Lori Parr’s Off-Grid Cabin and Lavender Farm

St Ignatius, MT
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About the Project

  • Solar-Powered Cabin
  • Solar-Powered Well
  • Composting Toliet

Nestled in the hills near St. Ignatius, Lori Parr and her dog pass their
time working hard every day and watching the Mission Mountains each evening.

When Lori’s mother passed away she used her inheritance to purchase the 20 acres of land where her 77 square foot solar-powered cabin now stands. Along with the cabin, she installed a solar-powered well. She also uses a uses a 5 gallon
bucket composting toilet system.

“It was always just sort of a fun place for me to come hang out,” she
said. “I thought I would grow lavender here one day.”

One morning in 2005, Lori was on her way to the Missoula People’s Market to
sell her lavender, when she saw a little cabin on a flatbed trailer parked
near the market. Her friend, Charles Finn, was standing beside it.

Lori asked what it was and her friend said, “It’s a little cabin, you
should come inside.”

It was one of many one-room cabins Charles Finn builds from recycled
lumbar scrap. Lori knew it was exactly what she needed, and that cabin has
been hers for nearly a decade, evolving into the off-the grid home where she
spends most of her days now.

To many, Lori is known as Lavender Lori, farming pioneer of the French lavender variety ‘Grosso’ in the Missoula Valley. Lori, who never had land of her own, was a sharecrop farmer at Ten Spoon for a decade.

Tough times came upon Lori and after a divorce and a rough winter that killed her 90% of her plants in 2009, Lori decided her land and her little getaway cabin would become her refuge. Here she would work on cloning lavender and farming it on a smaller scale. Lori also decided to launch her writing career.

For a while, Lori was using her car to charge her phone. Lori said propane and a candle were here power, but her boyfriend of the time, an HVAC guy, helped her get a better system up and running.

“We got those little solar panels from Harbor Freight for 189 bucks and he
showed me how to use it and what my wattage is,” she said.

Lori received a grant from the Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) program in
2010 which was established by the Montana State Legislature to help
strengthen and diversify the agricultural industry by giving
grants to those wanting to develop new agricultural products and
processes.

Given the hardships she had recently gone through, Lori was a perfect fit
for this grant; from here she was able to begin
to plant her dream, growing lavender on her own land.

Lori enjoys the adventure her new life has brought her, from learning to
compost her own stool, to tricks for keeping her olive oil from freezing in
the winter, to learning what you can do with solar power. During the winter she takes the battery from her tractor and adds it to the battery storage block to get more energy with less daylight.

“I even actually used my sewing machine this winter,” she said.

Lori admits the winters are not easy, though. Her lavender plants have had
some rough winters too, but they all persevere. Every morning she gets up
and steps out onto her land that overlooks the Mission Mountains. She is
alive, self sufficient, and off the grid.

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