We recently moved into a gorgeous 112-year-old house in the historic district of our town. We are renting long-term with an option to buy. We have an awesome landlord who has let us really make this our home and he’s very easy to work with. He and his wife had contracted the local affiliate of a national pest control service. They have offered us the benefit for free, which is generous. However, I’ve owned several old houses and I’ve never used chemical pest control methods.
I’m not particularly good with insects, but I know they are a vital part of our eco-system. I have spent a lot of time and energy over the years working on making peace with the insect world and finding ways to co-exist. Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY don’t like ants in my kitchen, spiders in the bedroom or other various multi-legged critters terrorizing us inside the house. When I find a misguided critter in the house, I do my best NOT to freak out and put them back outside with a stern lecture on staying OUTSIDE.
I’m the one with the scrappy lawn because I refuse to use chemical fertilizers on it. I’m sensitive to chemicals and just know too much about the negative effects of many chemicals not only on our bodies, but in our environment as well. There are many studies showing how our bodies are being overburdened by toxins and how babies are now being born pre-polluted – yikes! Environmental Working Group has done a lot of homework for us and offers tons of resources for research on commonly used chemicals, toxins and their effects on our health and their environmental impact.
In 1974, fresh out of the army (as a Green Beret medic), Michael Garnier went to rural Oregon to try to make a living off the woods. He tried making furniture, fences, pole barns and selling organic, psychedelic picture propellers (to see Fantasy Flakes), but finally it was a treehouse that got him all the attention.
Modeled after the treehouse he had once built for his kids, his first treehouse B&B was completed in 1990 and people began paying to stay. But the county building instructors wouldn’t permit it and told Garnier to tear it down.
Instead, he set out to prove it was structurally sound by performing his own stress test. He invited 66 people, 2 dogs and a cat inside (for a total of 10,847 pounds) . The structure held, but the inspectors weren’t swayed.
Garnier continued to build 8 more treehouses, but without proper permission to use them as lodging, instead of renting them he asked guests to buy a $75 t-shirt first. Finally, nearly a decade later he had his permits, and by then he’d created an entire world in the sky.
Today he has 9 treehouses for rent, 20 staircases, 5 or 6 bridges, several platforms and zip lines for rapid descent and at least one fireman’s pole. Some of his treehouses even have toilets, running water and showers, though he warns guests to “stand when they flush”.
Garnier claims to have the tallest treehouse in the world. His Treezebo stands 37 feet, or 6 stories, above the ground (He also claims that his personal home is the largest treehouse in the world).
Over the years, Garnier has become legend in his industry and helped invent a better way to build a treehouse. Instead of bolting wood to wood (i.e. beams to the tree), Garnier and his colleagues at the World Treehouse Conference (an event he used to host) developed a way to attach steel bolts and cuffs to the tree. Dubbed the Garnier Limb (or G.L.), this open source design can support 8,000 pounds.
Garnier sells GLs of all different types as well as plans to build your own treehouse. His DIY treehouses are for 12 foot trees ($150) and he sells about 30 or 40 plans per year.
In this video, Garnier gives us a tour of his Out ‘n’ About Treesort, talks about the old “contreeversy” and its “publici-tree” and shows us his workshop and his 1800-square-foot personal treehouse home.
Television producer-turned-blogger-turned-ecogeek, Kirsten Dirksen is co-founder of faircompanies.com a news/blog/video site focused on environmental sustainability for people and the planet.