I agree with John, I think this is something that needs to happen all over the world. As a young person with almost no capital, I've been wrestling with the very vexing problem of how to get into permaculture and ecosystem restoration. These camps can make this kind of education available to those who need it most. Seems like this is the sort of thing that has the most potential to get us to the tipping point of regenerative action. So help us get the word out! Young people interested in earth healing need to know that this is going to be an option.
Just watched this video about a ~280 sq. ft. earth-bermed house in WA. This off-grid abode is quite beautiful (inspired by hobbits) but there seems to be no mention of permaculture, Mike Oehler, thermal inertia, etc. How could this design have been improved?
We are looking to build a fence in the backyard to keep the chickens out of the human space. We'd also like to plant some vining herbiage to beautify this barrier. Can a fence be constructed that serves also as trellis for roses/grapes/etc? Or will the birds' appetite for green leafy matter be too much discouragement for young plants? Should t-posts and chicken wire be avoided? And if so which materials offer a preferable alternative?
We're in the process of building a bunch of hugels in our zones 1/2. Check it out!
Usually when someone harvests a tree for lumber/firewood, the slash (branches and stuff) is just left there on the forest floor. In large forestry operations it's often piled up and burned off. We'd rather put it to good use in our garden.
kadence blevins wrote:So this wofati needs person(s) to live in it this year? Any updates on whats in it/ how many people/ etc. about it for people who may be interested?
Jesse is currently occupying 0.7. The new couple, Mike and Violet, are moving in next week. They will be building/hanging partitions in the two wings for private space with kitchen/living room in the middle 200 sq. ft. Might be possible to squeeze a fourth in there, probably as Jesse's roommate.
Our lovely young volunteer Bella was quite the talented wood burner. Not as in combustion for heat, but inscribing flat sections with a magnifying glass. She burnt a handful of beautiful signs for us during her stay.
This is a picnic table I built for base camp. Not foldable but it does come with benches! As opposed to a standard picnic table design, the seats are unattached. They can be pulled off and used elsewhere if needed. A key element in the design is that you don't have to climb over the seat; thus allowing for a backrest. The table accomodates 2-3 people on each side which is more conducive to group conversation than a long rectangular table. It is still a bit wobbly though, I am trying to figure out how to brace the legs without cutting in on (human) leg room. The surface is unstained and unfinished, which means it's dirty from contact with food etc. A non-toxic staining method (i.e. coffee) could be pursued...
We spent a lot of money on food last month. And the month before that. And will have spent quite a bit this month too. We are restricting our diet to organic or better so that makes the bill a lot more intimidating. But we are also picking up lots of refined and value-added foods like salsa, granola, salad mixes, yogurt, etc. I think our greatest potential for savings will come from switching over to primarily bulk, dry foods, i.e. 50 lb sacks of rice, legumes, flour, to a simpler and more staples-oriented diet. This of course will require lots more time and effort into food preparation. Also we'll likely have to cut back quite a bit on our consumption of fruit, meat, eggs and dairy.
So I guess the two questions I'm wrestling with now are:
1. Where do we go to find large sacks of cheap organic bulk dry staples? And cheap organic fruit and veggies, for that matter?
2. By doing this, can we cut down our bill to a fifth of what it was, and still have a wholesome nutritious diet? And what would that diet look like?
I've been working on a design for a debris hut, which I really prefer to refer to as a 'debris cabin', comfortable enough to overwinter in here at base camp. The idea is to build a warm, livable shelter, using mostly the dead woody detritus from the surrounding land and no powertools other than a drill; a true eco-building on the scale of traditional native american structures. I am going to attempt to convey my ideas using nothing other than the english language - no images (yet) - and I fully expect that much of it will be lost in translation.
The design is an A-frame with an excavated floor. The roof is pitched at a 60 degree angle. The poles are 10 feet long, yielding a floor 10 feet wide. The poles are spaced at roughly 1 foot increments. Pairs of adjacent poles on one side of the A-frame are bonded at the top and in the middle by horizontal braces, notched and screwed in. The two poles opposite the pair of bonded ones are seated in the ground, and v-notched at the top, to rest against the upper brace. The A-frame is braced across the floor mid-level; this brace rests on the middle brace of the bonded poles. From ground level, this makes the ceiling 4' 4" in the middle 5 feet of the cabin. I need a height of more like 7 feet, so the ground will need to be dug down 2' 8". The cabin can be as long as you like - in my case, probably about 15 feet. I haven't quite figured out the door and the back wall but they will both need windows.
Once the frame is up and the floor is excavated, the walls can be built. The first layer is 2-3 logs thick, stacked horizontally. The 'logs' in this case are usually around 4 inches in diameter. Empty spaces in between logs are filled with pine cones and straw (for better insulation). The rest of the walls, a total of 4 feet thick, are stacked vertically, to aid rain runoff. A plastic layer will be added to half the roof, and the other half will be thatched, perhaps with tightly bundled green ponderosa needles, as an experiment. The inner walls may be thinly cobbed later in the future. Light and heat will be supplied by candle mass heaters. Ventilation may be supplied by an earth tube run through the floor or a water-proofed thermal mass, a-la Hait.
This old viking longhouse is a primary inspiration (will find pics to upload later)
It's huckleberry season! If you don't know what they are or have never tasted one then 1) you have probably not been in Montana for long and 2) you certainly are missing out on the most fucking delicious little piece of fruit this green earth has to offer. The window of opportunity is fairly brief - they're only here once a year, and by my estimation this weekend will be near the climax of ripeness (around here anyway). This is a truly therapeutic and soul-building experience, get out into your local woodlands, experience the plant life and wildlife and fresh air and the exquisite flavors your regional ecology has to offer.
Just to clarify: Yes, I am proposing a date! For this upcoming saturday and/or sunday, the 2nd/3rd of August. I already have an AMAZING spot picked out, a veritable sea of plump, juicy huckleberries, in the high elevations south of my homestead. Sadly I can't come to to pick you up. A bucket of huckleberries always comes at a price - you've got to get yourself out here (~45 miles outside of Missoula). If you come out on Saturday, and you're into the outdoors experience thing, I encourage you to stay and camp Saturday night, either here at base camp or out in the woods, whatever you're down for. Stick around for dinner and you will be treated to one of the finest meals to have ever been cooked for you. It's possible that my first ever batches of wildcrafted mead will even be ready for consumption by then...
Wow, the WWOOF website just came through a major upgrade. It looks really good, feels much smoother. I feel the new changes really boost the credibility for folks looking into it for the first time. What do you think?
The gappers and other volunteers at wheaton labs have put in HUNDREDS of man-hours peeling some 500 logs in preparation for wofati 0.8. I personally have peeled at least a hundred, I figure. That is a lot of time thinking about better ways to do the job. Lots of less work-intensive methods have been proposed. A popular one is that we girdle the trees at some critical point in the year and wait until the bark beetles eat the cambium away. Then when we fell the tree, the bark pretty much falls off as it hits the forest floor, and we get a much more aesthetic log with lots of cool bug trails.
I hypothesize that there is a variety of fungus with which we can inoculate the tree when we girdle, that will eat away the cambium layer of the douglas fir right quick. It is, after all, the most nutrient-rich part of the whole tree. Surely there is some organism that would love to dine upon it more than we enjoy peeling it with tools and sweat.
Well Claire, though we are far from warm and wet, you might consider moving out to Montana to live and work at Paul Wheaton's place. Wheaton labs is rife with opportunity for a young, talented, motivated person such as yourself. We are searching desperately for able bodies who are willing to sink their teeth into our long list of projects. We have something like 350 acres of sloping woodland and only a small handful of people to develop it, so the world really is your oyster here. There are even opportunities to earn some cash (in your spare time) prepping roundwood stuff for deep roots folks. We collectively have a library of permaculture books large enough to feed the mind for years on end. And there may be no perfect substitute for a PDC, but the tutelage of the one and only Paul Wheaton is worth even more in many respects. Stay as long as you'd like - the longer you remain here the better! Ten years from now, this place will be among the most epic permaculture demonstration sites the world over, and now is the time to get in on the ground floor.
Have you considered coming out to volunteer here at Paul Wheaton's place? Wheaton labs is in desperate need of artists and gardeners! If you don't mind the manual labor you can even earn some money (in your spare time) prepping wofati materials for deep roots folks. Much more information can be found on the gapper thread: https://permies.com/t/34633/labs/gappers
I realize Montana is nowhere near the gulf of mexico, but it may just be worth the trip.
Marcos Buenijo wrote:
I'll provide an estimate on fuel consumption for a good wood gas engine system, assuming it operates at an optimal rate for good efficiency. Expect roughly 15% efficiency in the engine system (fuel to shaft work). Battery efficiency is a conservative 80% (assuming bulk charging at a modest rate from a low state of charge). Alternator efficiency can be 80% with a good permanent magnet unit. Throw in a 0.8 factor as some systems would require a dc converter or small inverter, and there is some battery self discharge. This corresponds to roughly 7.7% conversion of wood fuel to end use electricity. This is a realistic estimate assuming a good system, and it's fairly conservative for a good system running at optimal output while battery charging. Green wood provides roughly 4400 btu per pound, so one needs to prep about 10 pounds of green wood for every KWh of electricity consumed. This is an estimate, of course, but it's based on data that I've gleaned from real world units.
Wow, that is a chilling reality check. Really puts the value of solar into perspective
William Bronson wrote: Charcoal power might be your best fit.
You want char anyway, a tlud could be set up to charge a rocket stove style adobe bench, or bell,the modifications to the IC engine are ludicrously simple compared to those needed for woodgas,and char has a plethora of other uses.
But for everyday? Solar makes sense to me.
This discussion has mainly been focused on my specific energy requirements and how best to meet them. I agree that one the scale of a single person, solar is probably the best option for electricity generation.
However I would like to steer this thread in a more general direction, attending to the question of 'What is the best way to generate electricity, at the home scale, from woody biomass?'
It seems that there are two primary candidates: a steam engine, powered by anila-type char/ rocket stove on the one hand, versus a wood gas internal combustion engine on the other hand. This is really what I am interested in exploring.
I'd much rather use the carbon skeleton to build soils than burn it for energy production.
Marcos Buenijo wrote:How much heat do you need (i.e. northern climate with harsh winters)? Is space cooling necessary during summer months? What about food storage - a freezer is probably the best thing for long term food storage, and that's a substantial electrical load. It seems you'll be using a laptop computer at the very least - well, what about internet connection?
The winters here in Montana are long and harsh. An efficient wood stove will be essential. Cooling will not be necessary. Food storage is taken care of in the buildings at base camp - so no refrigerator. I have calculated my energy requirements:
- netbook laptop: 30 W x 10 h = 300 Wh
- stereo: 50 W x 5 h = 250 Wh
- modem: 24 hrs x 7 W = 168 Wh
Total: ~720 Wh at maximum usage
Light at night will be provided by candles (which also produce heat). A 12V deep cycle lead-acid battery rated at 130 Ah, discharged to 50%, supplies 780 Wh. With the inverter running at 92% efficiency these power needs could be met with a single battery. I would probably add a second one to cover further inefficiency and reduce strain on the batteries.
Not looking good for the bicycle generator. At 100 Watts production, I'd have to pedal maybe four hours a day just to be able to use my laptop and the modem for six hours.
Please let me know if there are faults in my math.
For my purposes, heat and char production are of primary importance. My electricity needs are relatively small and can be met by a stationary bicycle generator, though I understand there's a lot of sweat involved for even small yields, so a cogeneration system is definitely more desirable.
Many of us live in forested environments. When I look around me, the resource in great abundance is... wood products! Live trees and brush of course, but also lots of detritus, old logs, branches, lots of pinecones. This woody biomass contains a great deal of stored solar energy. And I want to tap into that efficiently and effectively.
I want to know - NEED to know - if there is a home-scale system that will accomplish these basic parameters:
Input: woody biomass
- heat (in the vein of RMH)
- electricity (charge batteries via generator)
Being a forest resident, this is my ultimate energy challenge. I suspect that I will pursue the best solution for the rest of my life.
We are currently trying to wrap our heads around this problem at base camp. It seems we have had trouble with the ladies' seat, i.e. accidental defecation into the urine diverter. Our discussions have led us to the conclusion that even with the most well-designed diverter, occasional accidents should be expected. As a result we are considering two solutions:
- replace the stationary diverter with a removable one (possibly glass) so that it can be more easily cleaned in the event of an accident, OR
- convert the ladies' seat into a urine-only toilet (there are two seats in the pooper)
Personally I favor the second solution. Now, the existence of the diverter is a consequence of the fact that most women lack the awesome power to poop without peeing. What is unclear to me, and what I wish to ask the female readers of this post, is whether or not women can pee without pooping (supposing their primary purpose in there is to dispose of solid waste).
Please keep in mind, it is a bunch of dudes that are handling this problem. Which is definitely, uh, sub-optimal, so bear with us here.
The street side of the berm is planted with boring stuff so as not to attract attention. On the house side, there is a narrow path in the middle, and a path on top as well. So think of it like a double-decker hugel bed.
I arrived at Base Camp today and was surprised to learn that I am the first Gapper to actually make it here. So I won a seat at the dinner table tonight! It was the best meal I've had in a long, LONG time. Apparently they do this sort of thing like, every day. Three times a day, in fact. I love it here!
So tomorrow we set out on the first day of the natural building workshop. Hopefully we will have pictures to post soon.
Anyway I'd really like to encourage all you individuals considering the Gapper program to go for it. I couldn't ask for a better group of people, or a better opportunity to learn and live permaculture.
Has anyone written a permaculture-minded book devoted solely to domesticated animals and how they fit into full-farm ecosystems? It's touched on quite a few times in many of the core texts (designer's manual, Gaia's Garden etc.) but I have yet to discover a single comprehensive source on the subject.