Home is where the heart is, and the kitchen is the heart of every productive home. In permaculture, the home is “zone zero,” the nucleus from which the rest of the design emanates.
Permaculture will tell you how to design your building for maximum energy capture and recycling, but nevertheless does not pay adequate attention to what happens in the kitchen. No point growing lots of sustainable food if no one knows how to turn it into a meal. Someone has to be the farmer’s wife, even if it’s the selfsame farmer.
Care of the home, preparation of food, and everything else considered housewife work has been dragged through the mud in modern times, most vehemently by those with “alternative” leanings. A brave few of us are trying to reclaim respect (and skills!) for this essential work. Check out my blog Apron Stringz for a thorough discourse on the subject of what I call neo-feminist punk housewifery.
As for the house itself, ours is a very basic stick frame, built in the 60s. Being an Alaskan home, it is pretty well insulated and double-paned windows are a given. We heat primarily with wood, which My Man cuts and splits. Other than that, we are fully plugged in to town amenities. Though I dream of going off-grid right here in town, my skills are much more in the food, forage and farming department than alternative power or engineering. Until I get our food systems firmly in place, I’ll stick with what I know.