News Home & Design Tiny House Family Lives As 'Land Stewards' This couple and their young son are returning back to the land, by taking care of it. By Kimberley Mok Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who covered architecture and the arts for Treehugger starting in 2007. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Kimberley Mok Published April 9, 2021 04:44PM EDT Exploring Alternatives Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices In reading about the wide-ranging spectrum of tiny houses out there, one gets the sense that they represent many possible pieces to an interconnected puzzle. For some, tiny houses might be one possible answer to finding financial freedom, or as an extra source of rental income. For others, tiny houses mean simple living, or living in an alternative framework of intentional community within an urban setting. Tiny homes also might be one way to address homelessness. Overall, it seems that tiny houses stand as an emblematic alternative to the excess, socioeconomic inequality, and housing insecurity that's rife in the conventional system of homeownership, and of the building industry in general. For Canadian couple Bianca and Justin, their tiny house represents a return back to basics and a return back to living more closely with the land. Bianca, a consultant, and Justin, a teacher, sold their condo in the city and moved into a 30-foot long tiny house along with their young son. The couple has now settled their home on a piece of land that is owned by someone else. In return, the couple is taking care of the gardens, chickens, and bees on the property – basically living under what is called a land stewardship model. We get a chance to see their home and explain what the land stewardship model means to them in this great video from Exploring Alternatives: As the couple explains, their tiny house was purchased online as a pre-owned DIY shell for approximately $47,800. Most of the basic interior layout was already set down, but they also added a kitchen, couch, and a bathroom extension. One of the family's guiding aims was to create a home that is flexible and adaptable for future changes, such as their son growing up and potentially needing more space. Exploring Alternatives Upon entering the tiny house, one comes into the small kitchen, which features a large sink, open shelving, and an apartment-sized refrigerator. Exploring Alternatives There isn't a full stove here, only a portable induction burner as the couple prefers to cook using their barbeque; they can also use the stove at the property's main house for items that need longer cooking times. Exploring Alternatives The living room is a simple but flexible space: there's a couch here that has storage space underneath, and which can easily convert into a double-sized bed for guests. Exploring Alternatives The wooden gate-leg table here functions as the family's dining table, and as a workspace for Bianca, who runs a blog as a downsizing and a sustainable living coach over at The Giving Tree Family. When the table is folded down, it's a space where their toddler can play, though he spends most of his time outside. Exploring Alternatives The bathroom is situated beside the kitchen, and includes a composting toilet and shower. Exploring Alternatives The other end of the house features an enclosed bedroom on the ground floor which serves as the child's bedroom. There's space for a child's bed, rocking chair, storage ottoman, and closet space for Bianca and Justin's clothes, which they swap out seasonally. Exploring Alternatives To keep their toddler safe, the couple have installed a safety gate made out of reclaimed paddles and window screen framing. Exploring Alternatives The sleeping loft above is for the couple and has a large bed as well as a television for the whole family to watch movies on rainy days. The couple says that in the future, it's been set up so that their child may move up here instead. Exploring Alternatives As the couple reflects on the new paths where tiny living has taken them, they say that it has allowed them to live closer to their values, and to give unique opportunities to their young son. Bianca also adds that it's important for tiny house advocates to work to change the system, so that similar opportunities can become legalized and more available to more people, and potentially benefitting everyone: "I'm challenging [the municipal] council to change the bylaws, because bylaws and zoning don't support alternative living. They just don't. [..] With the land steward model of living, there will be so many more opportunities if municipalities get behind it. Folks who do own a lot of land, who are now aging, can stay in their homes and have young people live on their properties to take care of it. It's such a beautiful model." To see more, check out The Giving Tree Family and their Instagram.