Trout Gulch: A Homemade Sustainable Hobbit Village

10 Jan, 2012

by Maria Grusauskas, via Wastonville Patch,

On a secret hillside in Aptos, a small group of young people imagined their own version of a “21st-century Hobbit village.” Then, they built it.

A network of tree houses, huts, domes, a goat paddy, an orchard, and most recently, an organic farm, the small neighborhood named Trout Gulch is really only just beginning to sprout.

Built on the wilderness that surrounds animation filmmaker Isaiah Saxon’s mother’s house, Trout Gulch is the creative sanctuary of Encyclopedia Pictura, a three-man animation company made up of Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch, and Daren Rabinovitch.

Encyclopedia Pictura is working on countless ambitious projects, and they have been called the “directors of the future” by Esquire Magazine. Their successes—which include a very successful music video for Bjork—fuels a unique project as imaginative as their films.

Trout Gulch is becoming a mecca for DIY culture and sustainable living, with 18 friends now living cooperatively and productively amongst each other there. They also use composting toilets and make their own cheese from their flock of French Alpine goats. 

“Everything is happening magically, nothing is forced. The people who are brought in are brought in from meeting people at the right time,” said Ryan Hett, the resident farmer who has been living and working on the organic farm for the past several months.

Hett is one of those people who was in the right place at the right time. The inspired farmer came into contact with Trout Gulch at the same time Trout Gulch was looking for a visionary farmer to help start their organic farm.

A couple of weeks ago, Trout Gulch Farm invited members of the community to share food, conversation and knowledge on their organic farm, which culminates at the highest point of the property and is complete with a state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen.

It was something like a farm-to table-dinner without the pretention, followed by demonstrations in acorn tanning, wild mushroom scavenging and herbal tinctures. Two long tables overlooking the valley set the scene for a gourmet lunch, which included a shaved apple and fennel salad, whole sardines from the Monterey Bay, roasted root vegetables and bay nuts, the seeds of the Bay Laurel tree, which taste like a mixture of chocolate and coffee.

Click here to read the rest of this article at

About the author