hi everyone, im fred! (known as english fred to some, frederick to those who think im misbehaving and freddy to a select few who have tried to have their own input into what i should be called...) i spent last summer as part of the wheaton labsbootcamp and am finally now getting around to sharing some of the things ive been experimenting with since then. im going to start off by explaining what i set out to do and why to give the experiments that follow a nice bit of flavour; then ill be staggering posts every couple of days so to not dump 6 months worth of tinkering in one big deuce.
anywayyyyy living and working as part of the wheaton labs community had made me feel great. i felt connected to the people, the purpose and to the land. everything worked together to make everything better, so simple when everything is balanced but so far from the wasteful, seperated lifestyle of the city dweller. back in london i kept thinking on this feeling of speration. most of us are so seperate from everything that we interact with, only touching or holding a finished product, with little idea what it is really made from, how it ended up where it is, how much energy has gone into it and how much has been sacrificed in its production. if the life cycle of things we interact with was understood more deeply by the general populous then i think tonnes of 21st century issues would flutter and dissapear. awareness leads to a change in perception and then in turn, a change in action.
to summarise i'll paraphrase from my dissertation.
through designed experience, i aim to explore the city's disconnect from the natural so that i may discover ways to connect with our shared environment, in order that our enviornmnet may help improve living in it. i will experiment with my way of living and then experiment with adjusting others, hoping to change attitudes towards, community, nature and our surroundings.
thinking about food i wanted to make my apartment produce a yeild. i decided upon herbs as you dont need to harvest much for each dish, so one can grow a higher percentage of ones herb supply in an apartment, vs the percentage of any vegatation that one could grow in the same environment. after routing though peoples bins ("trash cans") to see what resources were available, i discovered an abundance of plastic bottles. there isnt much soil on my property, with no garden to speak of, so a hydroponic system seemed like the obvious thing to set up. i experimented with a drip system, using perlite as a growing medium, but moved away from this as i didnt want to use a motor to move the water around. instead i created some bottle pots that use capilary action to move water from a resevoir below, through some old sock and into the perlite where the plant can absorb it. despite collected my pee i didnt manage to give the sprouts all the nutrients they needed so the first batch died. any ideas on a simple way to collect nutrients would be great!!! i then got distracted by rocket cooker stuff and moved away from bottle growth. i will revisit! rocket stuff to come tomorrow
posted 6 months ago
food food food. i wanted to encourage my community to spend more time with one another. being in the same apartment building means that we see each other often, but rarely for more than a passing conversation on the stairs. when thinking about what unites people, sharing a meal came to mind as there is something special about eating from the same trough. i realised also that having a neutral, community space would allow people to interact as much as they wanted with one another without fear of intrusion or pressure to be involved. so i decided to start getting an outdoor kitchen space together. first i started experimenting with rocket cookers. rocket cookers are good in lots of ways, but their environmental goodness and their unusual fuel are two bonus' that im glad to be working with. they spark conversation and are a shining beacon of the environmental benefits of simple, wood fueled cooking. what better way to spread information than to have people come to the source for themsleves, hopefully as a united group too!
i made my first rocket cooker using a coffee can and two baked bean tins. i forgot to add something like a pot stand DOH but it was my first iteration so i didnt lose any sleep over it. i did end up extending its burn chamber horizontally with another can, as the fire was too far under the vertical heat riseer and i wanted to be sure of max rocketyness. i cut and slotted the cans together, filling the gaps with first small stones, and then packing the gap between the inner and outer cans with dirt. this added insulation, blocked holes, was free and free from toxic gick! myabe there is some in the cans still im not sure???
looking to make a larger stove for the community to use i gathered some cooking oil drums and larger, 6" diameter tin cans. after cutting pot vents in one can and a hole for the horizontal can to slot into in the other, i used my tiny flux core mig welder to join the two cans into a heat riser. unsuprisingly, the thin, TIN coated cans, didnt weld very pretty... i even melted a little hole where there shouldnt be one, but it doesnt matter as ill be insulating the cooker with sand and pebbles, which will massivley reduce any air leaks. one can see in the photo of where the can that forms the burn chamber, meets the heat riser and that this join is quite gappy! ta da sand and stone saves the day!
i gathered the sand from a localskip. sand also holds the inner tins in place inside the outer drum. i really like this method of cans and sand as it requires very few tools (pliers, drill, file, scissors or tin snips. my angle grinder did help but wouldnt be neccecary to a functioning outcome.), a very small amount of skill and is made entirely of "waste" materials.
posted 6 months ago
whilst id been collecting tins and such i'd also had an eye for materials to build a small work bench/ kitchen counter. after digging through a few skips id gathered enough bricks to stack up and form legs and with a simple pallet top i'd created an infinitely flexible, multi purpose, hard wearing, restackable, work bench/ kitchen counter. yes that right, i put a pallet on top of some bricks...
with the work bench erected i set about testing my second rocket cooker!
it appeared to burn very clean, rather quickly! it took a fair whilst for the outside of the stove to be heated through the layer of sand, once it was there it stayed hot for hours
a grate in the bottom of the burn chamber would allow air to flow under the wood fuel better.
if another oil drum was added on top of the exisiting one, with the heat riser being lengthened to match, i think it would burn cleaner (not that it seemed to be burning dirty) as the exhaust would have more time under heat, increasing the chance of a complete burn. it would also be a better height for cooking on when freestanding. however the area where im creating this kitchen is not covered, so the design needs to be moved and is heavy enough as it is!