Sandra Burkholder and Chris Newton

Sandra Burkholder and Chris Newton

Family’s sustainability plan wins $5K

Darfield Earthship a work in progress

Area residents Sandra Burkholder, Chris Newton, and their children Katie, Stephen, and Helen, have won a prize of $5,000 which will be used to help execute their sustainable plan for the Darfield Earthship.

The money was awarded as the grand prize in the So Nice “A Better Organic World” contest.

In her winning contest entry, Sandra Burkholder stated that she would spend $5,000 toward a better organic world on teaching and demonstrating a sustainable lifestyle. She also stated that in July of 2009, her family began building an earthship – a sustainable house built of used tires and pop cans on their Darfield property in the North Thompson Valley.

Burkholder said they would invest the $5,000 in developing teaching tools to educate the many visitors that they have, and will continue to have, once their earthship is completed in early 2011.

“Since we found out we were the grand prize winners, we’ve had a hard time keeping it to ourselves while all the details were being finalized,” said Burkholder. “The first thing we are planning to do is to create signage to explain how an earthship integrates green building methods, water conservation, organic growing techniques and renewable energy into one home. Primarily this will be signage outside and inside the house explaining our systems, like the tires as mass heat storage walls, the greywater system, passive solar design, etc., and hopefully, some interactive displays for kids. We hope to educate the hundreds of visitors we receive each year, and perhaps to inspire them to live greener, better organic lives.”

Burkholder’s entry was one of approximately 500 initial submissions; it was then chosen out of 20 contest finalists by a 6-person independent judging panel.

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The judges have stated they are thrilled with the outcome of the contest. As noted by Kate Trgovac, “People are inspired to change by others who have taken the plunge before them. That’s why the Darfield Earthship project is important and was selected as the winner – they are already doing what the rest of us need to do to make the world a more organic place.”

The judges statements echo that sentiment, with Valerie Lugonja adding “Though there were many excellent entries, there were a couple of extra-ordinary ones. This family has not only built their entire home and world according to their fervent beliefs and commitment to live a sustainable life, they are also educating the public by inviting visitors into their home and their world to share with them this very personal experience. Personal implementation and a passionate sharing of that experience through education are critical to any change.”

“We are thrilled to have been chosen,” said Burkholder, “The judges are some of the most respected in B.C. when it comes to green living.  We’ve always known our project intrigues people, so it’s nice to be recognized in this way.  It was a Facebook contest and we are hugely grateful to our friends and earthship supporters all over the world who voted for us and put us in the final judging round.”

“We are hoping to be in the house later this spring or summer. The house is closed in now and we are working on the inside on electrical and plumbing; then we move on to interior walls and floors (earthen).  Lots left to do!”

If you would like to learn more about the Darfield Earthship go to

About So Nice:

So Nice, one of Canada’s leading organic soy beverage brands, enables consumers to make smart choices for a healthy lifestyle and a better world. Through the exclusive use of non-GMO, organic soybeans grown in North America in its range of good-tasting soy beverages, So Nice is able to ensure its products meet the highest ethical standards. Made by Earth’s Own Food Company Inc. (formerly Soyaworld Inc.), Canada’s industry-leading soy beverage company, So Nice products are produced at facilities in BC, Ontario and Quebec, thus minimizing the impact transportation of its goods has on the environment.