Tour Homes/Sites

Enjoy a self-guided tour…

Our 11 sites are described below. They will be easy to locate using the map which you will be given upon entry at the Arivaca Action Center. You might note in advance what you most want to see, and it is certainly possible to see them all. Keep in mind that we have five excellent speakers  – listen to one or all – and an interesting array of exhibits and vendors that you’ll want to weave into your day. See those particular web pages for details.

If you purchased in advance, bring/show your tickets or Paypal ticket receipts to the festival entry at the Action Center to get your wristbands and site maps. Please note: For previous Arivaca Home Tours, the brochure itself served as the ticket; that is not the case for the EcoFest. Confirmation of attendance will be a green wristband which each attendee will be given upon entry. Maps and brochures can be shared among a group of people.

We recommend that you either download or print your brochure via this link:  Brochure PDF.  We will have some brochures available at the door, but to minimize paper use, please bring your own. Print on letter-size paper, ideally 2-sided, color or black & white(Photos on this page are not included in the brochure PDF to save on ink, so savor them here!)

You can download the brochure PDF to your phone or tablet, and bring it with you. No printing needed. If you need assistance in doing this, your local library is a great resource, as are most people under 30 years old!


Tour Sites

Erda Kroft Farm • Kyle Young
Erda Kroft is the only 100% solar powered, regenerative farm in Arizona. There are about 60 rainwater harvesting catchments here, many of which incorporate urbanite, the use of which was birthed here. The passive solar house is made of cob, the farrowing house is made of quincha and the barn is made of urbanite and other recycled materials. Erda Kroft produces pork from heritage American Guinea hogs, eggs and meat from heirloom Turken chickens, meat and dairy products from Nubian goats and fleece from alpacas (there are alpacas for sale). All are pastured on the native ecosystems here.  The spring of 2017 will see several perennial super food crops and several perennial livestock fodder crops being planted.


Limited quantities of eggs, young broiler hens and goat meat will be available. To receive notifications about product availability and my blog about the links between nutrition and regenerative agriculture, send an email to:

Looking forward to seeing you here!
Kyle Young



Bart Santello
“…It was the shift from thinking about life in terms of “productivity; to thinking about life from a more creative standpoint – observing the unique aspects of people, places and things….”

When I purchased this barts-amazing-sunlit-cob-studioproperty, I wanted to create architecture that was unique and original. I realized early in these projects that the materials for constructing a comfortable and affordable building, were already on the property or locally sourced: sun, water, clay soil, straw and stone. All the buildings are built by hand.
barts-out-building The adobe out-building keeps the water infrastructure, solar electronics, batteries for power storage and basic tools out of the weather. A 12’x12’ adobe of approximately 900 hand-made blocks, it has a flat roof made of Ponderosa Pine, wood latillas and a straw-clay roof protected by a rubberized elastomeric coating.
The Cob Studio was inspired by native Anasazi architecture. It has evolved over time. The primary building material is cob. The footing is river rock on top of which sits a stone stem wall. Bamboo acts as reinforcement in the walls, while the vigas (beams) are locally harvested Mesquite and Oak. The circular room has a 12-foot diameter dome with 1-foot thick walls.
There are several separate solar photovoltaic systems on the property, each with its own purpose. The gabion on my property serves to stop ‘trenching’ across my driveway when flash-floods could make the driveway impassible. The gabion slows flash-flood water sufficiently to allow silt to build-up, and water to percolate into the ground to help recharge the aquifer. Over 1-ton of rock was collected to build this gabion. gabion-by-barts-drivewayCome visit.

For a more comprehensive overview of Bart’s projects on the property, santello_deserthomestead_rev10-15_rtf

Chilton House on Penny Lane
The Chilton House on Penny Lane showcases a four-bedroom energy-conserving home and guest quarters, atop nearly 9 acres overlooking vast expanses of hilly grasslands and scenic mountains. Built a few years ago by Earthuprising Adobe Block & Machine Co. of cement-infused insulating adobe blocks that exceed code standards. The 55 lb blocks were made on site with a special machine to stabilize the dirt with cement for durability in rain and resistance to insects while reducing environmental impact and creating an energy efficient house. The process uses local resources. See the Earthuprising demonstration at the Action Center.

Aaron and Betsy Clapp
Having worked in the home building trades for most of my life, I had thought for a long time that straw-bales seemed like an excellent material for a house. Straw-bales are definitely a ‘renewable’ resource, and leave a relatively minor environmental footprint.  And the opportunity to live “off the grid” with solar energy, plentiful in this area, seemed like a perfect fit. So when Betsy and I discovered Arivaca, it seemed like a great place to build that house. Then when we saw that the Harlequinn Garden at the end of Old Stage Rd. was up for sale, it was love at first sight! We made the purchase in 2004, and began several years of planning and preparation. We broke ground and poured our foundation in May of 2011. Having done most of the work ourselves, we completed the house 4 1/2 years later.  (Still not done but getting close!) Welcome …… and please take a few minutes to relax and enjoy the serenity of living off the grid!

Ann Witman
I have lived in Arivaca since 2003, mostly out on a portion of the refuge south of Arivaca Boys’ Ranch. Just before retiring from the refuge, I bought this small house on one acre which is just the perfect size for me and multiple pets – mostly indoor – except for the two tortoises, who are hibernating. My main interests are birds and gardening with mostly native or arid plants. I believe in water conservation and trying to make my corner of the earth compatible with the environment. Hence the three water tanks, each with 1,000 gallon capacity.

Noon-Kasulaitis Ranch
The Noon-Kasulaitis Ranch is part of the 1910 homestead of Arthur Noon, situated on a major wash in the watershed of Arivaca Creek. Designed and built by his son, Fred Noon, the 60-year-old family home is passive solar. The ranch has benefited this last year from an erosion control project, sponsored by the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, which features restoration work by Steve Carson of Rangeland Hands, Inc. This includes a Zuni Bowl and Media Luna, specific rock structures built to mediate eroding washes. Staff from AVCA will provide a tour. On your way to the conservation site, visit the newly renovated guesthouse where there will be photo displays of recently completed conservation projects.

Pete Kohlhepp
petes-gateI bought this property in 1976 with my Dad, Ed, with an interest in building. We started with his rammed earth house, finishing in 1982. I moved in while he was still living in Tucson and commuted to work. Wanting more earth buffering for my house, we started pouring concrete for walls deeper in the ground. After seven years of weekend building, it was time for landscaping, gabion building, water harvesting, recharge efforts and solar power projects. Of late, I’ve been working with steel for sculptures.


La Siesta Campgrounds & Vintage Travel Trailer Park
La Siesta offers a fun variety for EcoFest, just as they do throughout the year. In addition to their beautiful grounds, you can see their productive aquaponics system, expertly explained by Brendan of Ecogro. The essentials of an aquaponic system are freshwater fish, bacteria, and vegetation. There are also vegetated ponds built to capture and be sustained by rain water. BK’s Outlaw BBQ will be selling plates of delectables for $10 each, and Virginia’s La Rancherita will be located at La Siesta Campgrounds for the entire weekend. There will even be live music – stay tuned. It’s always a good time at La Siesta.

la-siesta-by-nightLa Siesta is the perfect setting for a unique camping vacation, including fine vintage trailers, tent camping, catch & release fishing, paddle boating and pond swimming. For the love of a bygone era, La Siesta’s has three vintage trailer rentals: a 1951 restored Spartan Manor with art deco flair; a 1970 Airstream, made the last year that Airstream used an aluminum skin; and Molly, a cute, pink 1964 Shasta – a favorite to many. (See La Siesta listing on Lodging page also)


The Pronghorn House
The Pronghorn House, former home of Dawn Amo, is a two-bedroom house with a small detached adobe building that is being used as an art studio by its new owners. The house sits on 1/2 acre near the edge of the wildlife refuge, overlooking a tree-filled wash that empties into Arivaca Creek. Its array of solar panels are tied into the grid and provide more electricity than monthly usage, with the help of its window-filled ‘Arizona room’ that collects passive solar heat. The two large free-standing water tanks that collect roof runoff will be used to help establish a major addition of native plants to the landscape for attracting resident and migratory birds and other wildlife. The tour will include the art studio and viewing the landscape design plans.


Arivaca Community Garden

Garlic Growing

The Arivaca Community Garden is a program of Project PPEP Inc. which began in 1998. We are a certified organic farm committed to issues of local food production working to improve food security in our community. The garden produces a wide variety of market crops which we sell at local farmers markets and donate to the local food banks. We accomplish our work with three full-time staff persons and local volunteers.


Young tomato plants in a greenhouse

fullsizerenderDuring winter we have two greenhouses in production growing winter season crops. Outside we have garlic, onions, and cover crop. Staff will be available to answer any questions about our program and organic farming practices.

Project PPEP Inc. is a multi-service non-profit corporation formed in 1972 and one of the largest non-profit corporations in Arizona. PPEP provides employment services, charter schools, youth programs, adult group homes, and farm worker training throughout the state of Arizona.



Lauri Barr
My home on Universal Ranch Road began with a rusty For Sale sign wired to a mesquite tree in 2002. I knew then that I’d have my home built right there. The gently rolling land unfolded into beautiful vistas to the south, with mountains visible in all directions. A longtime subscriber of Mother Earth News, I saw this as a perfect location to garden, raise chickens and live a rural lifestyle. I started drawing  floorplans, and found a wonderful home builder, John Besset. He started building my home on nothing more than a deposit and handshake. We shared a vision of a solid, energy efficient structure that would blend into the environment. Here is what we came up with…
• heat barrier material on underside of roof which blocks 70% of heat from entering the house.
• 18″ thick insulated walls. Insulated crawl space above ceiling.
• double-paned windows.
• several shady covered patios, and a sage-green metal roof which blends in perfectly with summertime mesquite leaves.
• solar tube skylights
• woodstove, in addition to traditional  forced air heat/ac.

Over the years to utilize and manage rain water, I added a cistern to catch roof water, channeling it to a large mesquite. I dug a series of small berms to slow rain runoff, and allow deep soaking of conifers. A French Drain channels water around the garage slab.

I also added a chicken coop and run, raised bed veggie garden, herb garden, perennial  flower beds, grapes, pomegranate, and apples. I built a simple fire pit to enjoy a night-time fire or mesquite barbecue, watching the stars under big clear skies.