Thought I would put some ideas here and generate ideas to revamp a kitchen into permaculture efficiencies....
I liked this pic from permacultureprinciples.com. This is a shared kitchen...
I want to streamline dish-washing. I do not like packing and unpacking a dishwasher... prefer to soak and process quickly .... usually under 10 minutes after soaking .... timed it.
So along this particular counter I have that has a window above I want to place first too deep laundry type tubs .... both with drainage..... one for greasy or muddy cleaning [think BBQ grill] ... and second in line for soaking dishes.... both of these will be covered by counter-top that is lifted up to access tubs below ... but useful workspace when closed and soaking dishes or not in use. Then next along I want to place 2 basins in traditional style but would like to use a retractable tap [faucet] system with a mixer hose shower-type head that can be pulled out to fill the laundry style basins as needed and placed back to look like a standard tap configuration. Also good for getting hot water where you really want it. Then next along this counter I want draining and when a bit drained to move into stacked storage shelving as seen in the pic... but mine is on the end not above sinks cos of window ...... dishes and cutlery to be used again from there.
I am also looking at cooking options that get me off grid. I have a gas stove but prices are going crazy now even to buy in gas .... so obviously use filtered methane ... but nowhere near ready to get pigs yet .... or rocket stove? Small rocket stove safe in kitchen? I have seen it but wondered. I have plenty of wood ... not that need much for rocket stove. Then looking at hay box or wonder box ...... http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/2008/07/26/wonder-box-cooker/ ..... inside for if raining.
Any other ideas? Basically looking for good design with permaculture principles in mind.
fire extinguishers easy to grab
air collection hood that covers all burners
quiet fan to remove air directly out of the building with no turns
task lighting shielded to people's eyes yet shines brightly on task from the front towards the work
light switches that when everything is off are in the downward position
a large round clock with large easy to read Arabic numerals and a clear large numbered digital one also.
wall decorations of useful charts
strong refrigerator magnets
multi colored spin off gama seal lids for 5 gallon buckets
large clear labels for where things go back possible pictures
slide in plastic sleeve sheets for wall or refrigerator for people or food replenish lists
Basic recipes for a crowd in hard plastic sealed such as how to make the large coffee pot for 25 or 50 people
a wall for various size canning jars with fence to hold them in
Large Message center / individual mailbox center. If the boxes are large enough then small items such as glasses or sweaters that are found around can be returned to people this way.
Have you thought of putting regular hot cold water handles to the left and right of the multi temperature hand held faucet?
For a kitchen for many people possibly check out commercial kitchens. They may have a separate sink dedicated to handwashing. Also if seven people are working in a kitchen then three sinks would not be too many. Also a work area where one can peal potatos sitting down or work if in wheel chair or to reach if young. Also a big fan of not having to carry the huge pot of boiling water across the kitchen to the sink to drain pasta. Along with this another thing grandma's do that make me faint is include a sturdy step stool or for sure 89 year old grandma will be getting the 10 pound glass punch bowl filled with 10 pounds of glass punch cups out of the top shelf while standing on a folding chair.
Not bad considering I do not cook or even ever make a cup of coffee.
I enjoyed your post especially the picture of the drying rack.
I am a big fan of all white, boring dishes so everything always matches, especially Corellware.
Regarding sinks - you also might consider venting the water outside to an infiltration chamber with a jandy valve under the sink to switch from greywater reclamation (outside) to sewer (greasy stuff). I like your idea of soaking things - it does make work easier. Just watch out for smells/mosquitos depending on how long you leave them. And easy venting of the used water is critical. Otherwise emptying those large tubs could get onorous.
The only problem with open shelving like that is if you don't use/recirculate those dishes often (if you have way more dishes than you use normally) - the seldom used dishes attract dirt/dust/grease. Also, if you put them away wet, they will drip on whatever's below.
Stove - people used to cook on wood burning stoves before gas and electric. I know some older homes in the boonies still have these. There are ways to make them safe by venting and placing them on tiles. Rocket type stoves have been used for cooking for a long time as well in Germany and China (kang systems) although I have zero experience with these.
Sounds like a GREAT project - keep us posted on your progress!
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
Very thoughtful response. Thanks Nancy. Got me thinking too...
Fire extinguishers.... yes must be easy grab
Air collection hood... we call extractor fan... can do ... important.
Quiet fan to move air out .... yes can get very hot .. a wall extractor fan?
Task lighting ... I have that but could actually increase it to an island area with breakfast nook so can peel the potatoes sitting down [one of your other good ideas!]
Light switches all down when off... oh boy!... yes ... but dont know if I can change it .... might think up small comic strips to show direction! Most of my plugs in the kitchen are double and switch is side-ways... you can just imagine!
Have the clock ... definitely will stay
Have a white board ... good idea to have a few ... find good place for them for planning ... garden to-do ... menu ideas .... notes to others ... etc
Useful charts .... like that. Thought of maybe putting 'recipe or handy hints tiles' on walls. Easy reference but might be a bit over-powering. Maybe on island counter instead with a sealant over? Still pondering if could work some way...
I usually put jokes and quotes on my refrigerator sealed in plastic
Not sure what gama seal lids are.. ?
Clear labels... do that already ... but good to work into new plan with maybe an easy to see pigeon hole type box shelving for individual boxes and plastic containers ... etc
Yes... I see you also had easy reference recipe idea!
Wall for cans... would look nice.... I would use for my sauerkraut jars etc. Been learning how good the stuff is for your gut and so making it... cabbage with carrot... yum ... easy to make too... want to try other pickles now ... fermentation foods... have a nice wall to display my efforts!
Like your message center idea .... and returnables .... not sure how to fit in ... but white board idea could double for this .... except for coats and books etc... hmmm... that is good idea.
Definitely want hot and cold function on the taps... can be a handle that swings from side to side ... cold on left and hot on right or preferred mix between ... or individual taps that mix in the middle ... with the shower hose option it is probably a bathroom mixer set - don't care - want functionality ... still looking though...
I want a separate small round sink for the reverse osmosis water filter. Clean veges and wash hands there as well as excellent drinking water.
Maybe a separate chopping block on wheels to also run that heavy pasta pot over to the sink? Designed perhaps with leg-room so can sit and peel potatoes etc? And drawer for knives and tools ... and place to slide it out of the way when not needed? Multi-functional.
Seat made to double as step ladder for high up? Would need to think that design through... but no folding chair needed! I plan to be around and agile enough to use that folding chair when I am 89 ... but might not stay agile if I did ... so these things are important!!
Thought to add I also have a big bin with a liner that I throw all my kitchen scraps in and then bury in Food Forest about once a week... I have to bury everything or the monkeys think this is monkey hotel .... I mix with manure to discourage them further ... [I call it monkey gravy .... can tell I have lost my 'Ooooh so cute! ... thieving little critters].... some soil and mulch too to hide smell and any sign of digging.... it has been building lovely soil ... so effort but worth it. Just have to do it when none watching from the trees.
I really like your idea of venting the water but unfortunatley I have already clad outside the kitchen with rock facing and garden beds for plants I want near at hand. I would really have liked to do that.
Soaking... I never leave past the next morning .... agree that smells awful if left too long ... once walked into a kitchen like that! Made me gag.
The tubs will drain out of the existing dishwasher drain pipe ... yes... important not to have to empty by hand!!!
Open shelving for stacked dishes has draining board underneath as well. Good point about dishes not used frequently!!! Will give that some thought...
Thanks for the tips on the wood stoves .... I really like the idea of one in my kitchen.
This is the plate rack my other half made for me. It holds just enough so that everything gets used regularly and there is a shelf on top for jugs and glasses and things. The plates are put up straight after rinsing and drip dry into the kitchen sink.
I have a pulleymaid style clothes airer too. I'll have to have a rummage and dig some photos out.
Nice additions David. Stylish and functional. I love the look of black iron-work anywhere ... never thought for kitchen! Thanks for adding. I only have one cast iron pot so far.... but definitely planning for more... and storage like that is pretty. Planning for drying dish-cloths ... wooden racks like that look good.
Really great plate rack your other half made you, Burra. Storage on top and side too. Mighty useful... the permie-style solution to reduced work-load that I want. Nice job.
Your point about lighting is particularly important to me, I get headaches, which often lead to migraines, from bright lights shining in my eyes. It doesn't seem to be something many designers consider.
Yes, fire extinguishers! Do you know, aside from my own dwellings, I can only think of one house I have ever visited where the kitchen fire extinguisher(assuming there even was one) was prominently accessible, so that any guest/babysitter etc would immediately be able to grab it at need? That house belonged to a former firefighter...
A couple other things are very important to me when it comes to kitchens:
1) Ergonomics. Most specifically, counter heights. All the difference in the world for prep work. If the kitchen is communal, it's probably big enough for multiple heights of counter in various sections.
When I live in rented space, I build a counter to do all my prep work on. Cost is very low; plywood top, lumber legs, waterproof paint for the surface. Very worthwhile.
2) Economy of maintenance. I'm very interested in my kitchen being cheap to build and cheap to keep everything running. I think the single best thing for affordability is to do all the work myself, and if I'm doing the work I want everything to be designed for ease of working on it. None of this cramming myself into the inaccessible corner cabinet to access the plumbing, or trying to change ballasts for lighting which require cabinetry disassembly to access.
I have seen more than one modern kitchen with fancy lighting that created hour+ battles to replace a single lightbulb or ballast. A triumph of form over function. Ick.
No appliances will be built-in to the cabinetry, so they will be readily removable for service or replacement with whatever I feel like replacing them with, no worries about it fitting..
No appliances will be sandwiched between built-in components/walls so that the replacement item must be of matching width.
Plumbing will be accessible from the other side of a wall; heated water will not need to travel a long and convoluted path to reach the sinks, as the water heating mechanisms will be sensible located.
There will be as few inside corners as possible. I hate digging things out of corner cabinets.
I'm sure there are more pet design peeves I'm missing...
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins
From what I understand of Permaculture, ideally there would be a lot less happening in terms of the convoluted design you described in a kitchen containing all the suggested available space.
The idea of having the proper places for soaking and clearing both dishes and grills isn't that bad, but I don't see why you would have two places for the two activities, even (and perhaps especially) in a shared kitchen. Permaculture cooking would be striving to attain the same efficiency and ease in dealing with either dishes or grills, water-based cooking or oil-based cooking. Design, in this case, would only be a constraint when it should be the practice of using the ingredients that are advancing your Permaculture cooking as well as your Permaculture kitchen (more so even than the practice of using multiple utensils; again, by Permaculture principles the ideal is to achieve optimal efficiency through basic simplicity - and do not confuse it with minimalism or productive maximization).
The picture shared, for example, feels extremely cluttered for all the space that is available to produce an incredible (and briefly worked on) buffet. The working area by the window seems to have those surface elevations surrounding it as an obstruction. A flat, open-ledge surface has much better dynamics (even to be the principal working area supported by the larger surface where the fruits are. I am assuming there is an open ledge counter that can't be seen in the picture, and that the elevations by the window are meant to facilitate some rinsing or sorting of harvested material. I would instead choose to do that work somewhere else other than in the kitchen; outdoors).
The plates and mugs shouldn't be, in my opinion, so close to the working stations (right at them). The shelves just next to them would be much more functional, and the whole rack could be made into a garden trellis instead.
I pump ALL my kitchen water out into a pasture next to one side of my house on the Texas prairie, the up-wind side no less. It does NOT smell. Why, you ask?
Because I let it feed to a deep tank by gravity and all the lipids (greasy stuff) floats to the top to form a crusty layer and the "water"
gets pumped via a float-controlled electric pump until the gravity receiver is nearly empty. The chunks of floating grease, etc. get burned
to nothing in my incinerator (remember those?). I should mention this: I live waaaaaaaay out in the country; we call it "fly-over" country.
I recycle aluminum, plastic and glass. Everything else is burned, either in the open air or used as fuel in any of my several rocket stoves.
My 'future plan' includes a kitchen outdoors (on the veranda, or 'porch' as you say in English). No cooling needed when hot (it's always hot there, where I am planning my future ). That rack for the dishes, where they can dry and stay until you need them again, that's my favourite. I once had a small one, but it did not fit it in the kitchen after we moved. Someone said here: dishes you do not use often will get dusty / dirty. No problem: I do not want to have things I do not often use. 'Make it do or do without' is part of a saying I like.
Permaculture design principle says: multiple functions. So before making or buying a kitchen-utensil, first think out all possible ways to use it, how to combine functions in one utensil (or piece of furniture). So you need less 'stuff'. Stool & safe steps in one, for example. One table for everything (made of metal, stone or hard wood). Utensils hanging from a rack high up the roof (can go up & down, like that clothes airing rack in the photo).
Kitchen at the side with most daylight at the time you are in the kitchen (less electric light needed). Herbs growing in pots in the kitchen.
If the kitchen is for community, first brainstorm with all people who will be in that kitchen ...
"Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them" (Luke 6:31)
In the USA building codes require cold water knobs be on the right, and hot on the left to prevent scalding. Everyone is used to cold on the right so they expect it subconsciously. Cold is on the right because when they first plumbed water into the homes they put the knob on the right since most people were right handed. Later, when they added a hot water heater, they put that knob on the left.
Outlets should be every 2 ft along the countertop backsplash in alternating circuits, tied to GFCI breakers so you don't get electrocuted if the mixer falls into your sink.
Also add a pull out faucet above the stove top to fill large pots right on the stove so you don't have to carry from the sink. They make faucets specifically for over stoves. Great for filling stock pots, soup pots, pasta and for canning.
If/when you install under cabinet lighting, you will be amazed at what a difference it makes. No comparison to overhead lighting.
All the lights in a room should be the same color. Light bulbs come in several different colors of white, from soft white, warm white, cool white, bright white and daylight (if memory serves). I prefer daylight for manual task lighting, but some find it too harsh and prefer bright white or cool white. Colors are expressed in degrees kelvin, so make sure all your bulbs are the same color (K) or it will drive you nuts. Soft white are the cheapest and most popular because they are actually yellow and make your complexion look best and yellow teeth appear white. I hate them because they distort true colors. 😀. Use them in the living room, bedroom, or dining room if you must. Personally I would use 60 watt equivalent daylight LED bulbs on dimmers everywhere.
Basic House design centered around the kitchen. Not yet built. Still in the brainstorming and how I'm going to get around the building inspector stage.
I have ideas for my sink area that also involves several sinks and permacultural food prep ideas.
A counter for food prep, and for the juicer, is right beside the first sink in the line up. Here there are various item specific tools and scrapers for cleaning eggs, veggies, plates, or pots. A steel bowl here takes egg shells over to a larger one that is by the wood stove area where they are dried, later to be crushed and added to potting soil, or for slug protection in the garden. A bucket under the sink takes coffee grounds, to be brought to the garden for slug control. In this initial prep counter counter is a hole (with a replaceable cover), where juicer/food prep scraps go in directly to a worm bin, which slides out from under the counter like a drawer, when needed to deal with. All dirt from cleaning veggies, food waste left on plates/bowls,pots... whatever, is scraped by spatula into the hole for the worms to deal with.
The first sink is for pre-rinsing dishes, not necessarily soaking. Soaking is only needed for rare items, which can also be done here. Most only need rinsing. The next sink is only for hot soapy water, which gains a lot of efficiency since most of the food is off the plates via spatula or rinsing done elsewhere, and so less hot water changes are needed and less soap is needed. After the soapy hot wash sink is a rinse sink. I do not like a sink full of rinse water, myself, and found through experiment that I use the same or less water rinsing dishes in a draining sink, on a single dish or a few dish cycle, then I do by filling a sink. My thinking is that if for some reason a person is less than perfect cleaning something, the rinse water in a sink full of water becomes tainted by that imperfection, and thus potentially taints the rest of what is rinsed in it whereas if you never have that water in the sink, the only dish that potentially is tainted is the one that was not perfectly cleaned. A forth sink is a possibility here, and in that case hot water with a few drops of grapefruit seed extract would naturally disinfect any residual problems. Dishes are simply dipped in this sink and then placed in racks to air dry. I'm thinking that this step is not necessary unless doing special food prep in a more commercial way, like for canning for market sale. This forth sink could have a cover when not in use, so that the area can be used for dish drying racks.
The whole system, including all the waste water from the sinks is dumped into a charcoal pit to take care of any smells, that is also adjacently growing herbs and flowers in front of the sink area, similar to the swamp monster in the living room that is in the original Earthship design. Up here in the Canadian Rockies more than 1/2 of the year the water can be easily diverted to something similar outside, but here the grey water system is best indoors during the winter. Here, the winter is dry, and wood heat is drying the air all the time, so I doubt that the extra moisture from the plants will be a bad thing. In the summer the system can also be switched occasionally to the inside bin to make sure it gets adequate water and a boost of nutrients.
A rocket stove mass heater, a cob bread oven, and an old style wood burning cook top are part of the system, heating the room while cooking/baking. The mass bench will go through a mass wall and be a couch in the living room space beyond.
A walk in pantry for dry goods and canning off the kitchen goes further through double insulated sealed doors to reveal walk in earth bermed root cellers of varying dryness for specific crops. The root cellars are accessed as well by a different double door system from the outside where a truck, cart or wheelbarrow can be brought right up to the door for easy unloading or loading to market. Having them indoors is so much more convenient then having to go outside, through snow, to access the cellar.
A solarium to the East through a sliding glass door off the kitchen gives a place to have more plants growing and a place to have a meal or read a book that is in full daylight. I was thinking of a desert type garden in here, with lots of aloe vera that require minimum water and will take excess water vapor from the air. The solarium acts like a trombe wall and has as it's north wall a stone wall with several windows open to the living room beyond.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."-Margaret Mead "The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision."-Helen Keller
Corelle is great, but so are old diner/kitchen ware dishes. Readily available at thrift shops, made to take a beating, and there's a lot of it out there in plain white and diner blue (our day to day). Heavier and takes more space than Corelle, but if you can't find that . . ? We also gave up glasses (except for small wine glasses?) long ago, use diner muigs.
I will say this though: if you're going to give yourself a work island, be sure to not make it too big. The idiot who built this place put in a 3' x 10' penninsula, too big to be anything other than a catch-all. My partner is 1'+ taller than I and we both cook. Part of our plans are to make a split work surface, so that we can both knead bread, comfortably. Right now, with the conventional HUGE counter, we manage, but it's not optimal for either of us. We had a home built a long time ago and tried to get the builders to give us a split counter, they said it wasn't "to code" which we were sure was BS.
We are starting to plan our "real" kitchen, what we have here is what was left by the builder (an idiot!), so I'm very interested in this thread!
I love the over sink drainers I have a friend in Finland and she has a cupboard there, but it has a grill on the bottom so the plates stand up and drip just as they do in that picture but they are protected from dust and grease at the same time and hidden so it doesn't look so cluttered. Heavy sinks for dirty items shouldn't be in the kitchen if you have space, much better in a separate room, since dirty veg normally also means dirty shoes.