“Are you crazy?!” This is the exact phrase that popped out of my mouth while I stared incredulously at my husband-to-be. He had just finished showing me a YouTube video of a tiny house. We already lived in a tiny apartment, and he wanted to live in something smaller? At the time I yearned for a traditional home with a huge kitchen perfect for family gatherings. A space with room to grow and to put down roots- literal and metaphorical. For as long as I could remember I loved being outdoors and playing in the family garden. Cornstalks and watermelons and cucumbers, oh my!
My husband is a stubborn man and over the years persisted in showing me every kind of tiny home imaginable. Shipping containers turned tiny homes, train cabooses transformed into small houses, and converted vans. He dragged me to the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado where we toured tiny homes and yurts. We traveled to Portland and stayed at Caravan-The Tiny House Hotel. It was while we were staying in this beautiful, handmade tiny house on a trailer that I finally fell in love. As we dozed to the rain pattering on the shingled roof, cuddled up in the loft with the awning window open, I felt at peace. I began to see the possibilities and wonder of tiny living.
Over time I started to adjust my thinking on other issues as well. Like our impact on the environment. I educated myself on sustainability, and the desire to grow my own food became more than a hobby. I had maintained a small container garden, but the extreme heat of the Arizona desert made it difficult to grow more than a handful of anything.
Everything started to come together, the desire for a smaller footprint, the need for fresh, organic food, and the idea of travel and adventure. We had been following the tiny house movement for years, but we hadn’t joined it yet. Finally, we saw a school bus converted into a tiny home. We loved the idea of repurposing an old school bus and making it into something beautiful and functional.
Now that we had our tiny house, I began to brainstorm ideas of how to have my beloved garden aboard. Some ideas: a rooftop deck with planter boxes, a gutter system along the side of the bus, maybe just my containers inside? But all of these ideas had issues! They wouldn’t travel well, wind and dirt and grime from the road leading to nixing all outdoor gardens. An indoor garden presented problems as well. Mostly just watering and draining the plants and the mess involved with soil and dirt.
A hydroponic system was the answer. I knew I needed a small, self-contained garden that could maintain its water intake. In my research, I stumbled upon the Click and Grow! The Click and Grow is a perfect system. And it’s ideal for Buslife! We plan on installing eight solar panels. That equates to 1800 watts of solar energy stored in 400 amp hour batteries. This will run to a 4,000-watt inverter for our household needs like our small refrigerator, lights, TV and most importantly our Click and Grow. Because the LED growing lights only draw about 5 watts, it will be a minimal draw on our system. In just three weeks all of my plants have grown in beautifully. I harvested some basil for my Caprese dish. A delicious mix of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic glaze and of course, FRESH basil.
I’m so excited to take my Click and Grow on the road. I plan to place it on our dashboard so all the natural sunlight will supplement the grow lights. We hope to live full-time in our bus while touring the United States and during our adventures find our permanent BusHouse parking spot.
We are Jenna and John Babcock. Find out more about our bus conversion and garden dreams on Instagram @adventure.us.bus!