Kenai Peninsula eco-community's ambitions are rising

Photo by Joseph Robertia

The 25-year-old therapeutic eco-community of Ionia south of Kasilof aims to create a mutually supportive environment while avoiding processed foods and living sustainably. The ambitions of its 50 or so residents are currently focused on a three-story barn and workshop -- four years in the making so far -- that may be the largest straw-clay structure in the world, building partner Lassie Holmes tells The Redoubt Reporter.

The Ionia project is his largest undertaking so far, going well beyond just mixing the ingredients in a wheelbarrow, as is typically done.

“We begin with several dump-truck loads of locally obtained Kasilof clay, which is some of the highest-quality clay around,” said Ionia community member Cathy Creighton.

Still, the clay had to be further refined for the project. Holmes explained how a skid loader was used to dump clay into a soil shredder to break up clumps. The fine clay was then dispersed into water and mixed in three mortar mixers to create a slip, which was then screened twice to further remove large particles. ...


Creighton said that the construction process reinforced the Ionian members’ connection to nature, and each other.



“The whole community took part. Every day we would mix and tumble it together, and pack it into the walls by hand. From our viewpoint it wasn’t work, it was an activity. And one men, women and children could take part in.” he said.

The barn is funded in part by matching grants from the Rasmuson Foundation and other organizations. Read more at The Redoubt Reporter: Barn-raising, eco-style -- Extra labor equals extra insulation in large-scale construction project

Read more about Ionia in this 1999 Daily News article: Far from the maddening crowd -- Ionia community finds a place to live in health, peace