Minnesota couple opens sanctuary for tiny homes near Mille Lacs

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A few years ago the tiny house movement started to take off--and now it's anything but small.

One of the hurdles, however, continues to be finding a 'home' for these homes. You can't put them just anywhere.

One Minnesota couple who downsized is hoping to solve that problem. Once a family retreat, Bill and Brenda Campbells recently turned their 80-acre property south of Mille Lacs into a private sanctuary of tiny homes.

It’s a neighborhood with a nod to a simpler, slower time.

“A lot of people, they can go all day without touching the ground. I mean, cement, car. I mean just to be able to ground yourself in real world, the earth. A lot of people they never touch it,” Bill Campbell said.

The Campbells were there themselves not too long ago, a busy suburban family with bills, careers and kids. It wasn't until they became empty nesters that they started thinking small.

“The first house was because [Brenda] was a writer and she wanted to stay on the property to be in nature and get inspiration in her writing,” Bill said.

Deanna Reiter was the Campbell's friend first, neighbor second.

"I kept coming up here regularly on weekends and they said if you want to build something on here you could,” Deanna said.

Deanna was single at the time, building a tiny house for one. A few months into the build she met and married Troy and life blossomed.

They’re now a family of five, and they use their tiny house as more of a cabin. But although they’re not living in the tiny community fulltime, Deanna and Troy consider this home and their neighbors, family.

“We didn't know at first how it would be having so many people up here and sharing the land with everybody, but that's been a beautiful piece of it,” Deanna said.

“Having other people and their experiences and their stories come along with them, that is awesome,” Troy said. “It just takes it all to the next level."

The Campbell's tiny town is slowly starting to fill in. They'd like to see six to eight homes in all. It is the modern day version of “if you build it they will come.”

“We figure the right people will show up at the right time,” Bill said.

Next to move in is Scott, who's ready to go off grid.

“Birds, wild animals, frogs croaking, it just seems more natural to live like this,” Scott said.

The peace and quiet is also what drew tiny homeowner Mary to the tiny house village. She was looking for solitude and wanted retire on her own terms.

"She really dreamed of having her own house again,” Bill said. “She didn't think it would happen where she felt she could be in her own space again.”

Because so much of this lifestyle is communal, the shared lodge on the property has become the heart of the sanctuary. It has the modern amenities the tiny homes lack, such as a washer, dryer and showers.

But more importantly, it is a place where a modern family can flock together and enjoy the little things in life.

"Those are the moments that you have here that you really don't have outside of here,” Troy said. “It's just beautiful here."

For more information about the Campbell’s tiny house village, visit their website.