For 24 years, environmentalist Lisa Craig Gautier and her husband Patrice Oliver Gautier, co-founders of the nonprofit organization Matter of Trust, have focused on leading sustainable lives. Nearly three years ago, the couple expanded their reach by opening the doors to their “Green Home,” where residents from across the city can explore their own environmentally conscious lifestyles.
Tucked away in the Cole Valley neighborhood, Matter of Trust’s Eco Home provides visitors with earth-friendly inspirations for their apartments and workspaces. The house also features a permaculture garden, an agriculture area that focuses on growing crops and other plants that can easily thrive in the Bay Area ecosystem. The demonstrations are carried out mainly through six seasonal open days, as well as guided tours and excursions to the facilities.
Gautier, president of the Matter of Trust, said the organization is founded on asking, “How can we turn waste into resources?”
While Matter of Trust’s eco-friendly home might not have all the answers, the facility offers a promising start.
During hours of operation, visitors are drawn to the Eco Home by a wishing well planter that is placed on the sidewalk in front of the house. Wide-open wooden doors offer a sneak peek at Matter of Trust’s array of exhibits.
The garage floor space is designed to showcase five areas of an apartment: a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a home office. As they walk through each area, visitors can meet and interact with ecological alternatives to their usual ways of life.
Solutions range from switching to energy efficient appliances in the kitchen and energy efficient lights in the bedroom to decorating the bedroom or office with reclaimed or recycled furniture.
After walking through the garage, visitors are taken to the backyard that features an edible garden, a small house adorned with solar panels, and a mist catcher, where large pieces of mesh induce droplets of mist that flow down into a trough. , also as a chicken coop.
The garden, which is designed to thrive with the San Francisco ecosystem, allows tenants of the apartment complex to grow their own food, such as pumpkins and leeks. A laundry-to-garden irrigation system uses gray water from the complex’s washing machine to irrigate the garden plants.
The cooperative serves eggs that tenants can use for breakfast and other meals. When they roam the garden, chickens act as herbivores in nature and take care of the grass.
Several permits were required for this project, such as changing the use of the accessory parking garage to a public facility for community education. Adaptations for solar panels, lighting, and ecological demonstration exhibits were also made. Since its inception, Matter of Trust’s Eco Home has had a working relationship with the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
“People will randomly walk by and say, ‘Oh, what is this?’ and they’d just go through it and end up taking a lot of it,” said Lonnie Allen, a Matter of Trust employee who first became involved in the program working on hair mats at the Eco-Industrial Hub, a separate trust matter. facility located in the South Market District.
The hair mats, which were first introduced by the Gautiers in 2000, are an extension of the Matter of Trust’s Clean Wave program, which collects hair, fur and fleece clippings to make oil spill cleanup booms.
The Eco-Hub also features an exhibit hall that houses a barber shop, temporary pet groomers, a rooftop garden, and more.
The organization also operates an online platform called “Hum Sum” where users can learn about sustainability by sharing solutions, exchanging services and ideas, and accessing a research library, among other resources.
Back at Eco Home, Gautier says tenants “can stop by and see all the different ideas” at play in the garage and backyard. He noted that all tenants also practice their own sustainability efforts, such as backyard composting.
Also, tenants welcome curious minds.
“We tell them up front before they move in that there could be field trips and all these kinds of things, so everyone who moves in is totally on board with that,” Gautier said.
Allen, who now coordinates tours and visits to the Eco Home, says the interactions of visiting the Eco Home spark conversations between tenants and others about alternatives like getting a tiny house, installing induction stoves, or just being mindful of personal waste.
“You get to see changes in the community or people just learning from what we’re doing,” Allen said. “I think just witnessing it is great.”