Robert Fairchild

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since Jun 29, 2012
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Recent posts by Robert Fairchild

Yes, bean leaves, and many others are edible, see:
5 months ago

2020 Newsletter
Exciting opportunities to learn this year at Salamander Springs Farm!
Big thanks to Ziggy L. and Carrie B. for helping bring you this update.

Fall 2019 Permaculture in Practice Weekend Intensive!
An inspiring group of brothers and sisters came together at Salamander Springs last September--people doing the important work of transforming places and people's lives in Washington D.C., Queens, NY, the Maori community Northland, New Zealand, Nashville TN, and our own Kentucky cities and rural areas.  We left inspired and empowered to continue building community and skills formed during that memorable weekend.

Permaculture Skills Days 2020!
Intensive, hands-on day-long workshops. Return home with the confidence, knowledge and skills to put your dreams into practice!

MAY 9:  Staple Grains & Dry Beans without Tillage  Continuous relay cropping system inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka's Natural Way of Farming and 3-Sisters polyculture cornfields Susana learned in Latin America. Early season introduction to some of skills developed in the September Permaculture in Practice workshop.  Seed selection included.

JULY 4: Soil Health Principles & Practice  Spend your 4th of July learning how to help reverse our current climate crisis!  We will cover a lot of ground:  carbon farming with permanent beds and no-till methods, contour swales, water and nutrient capture, cover crops, mulches, composting, fertility management, humanure and other “waste” cycling.

AUGUST 8: Low Tech Harnessing the Sun’s Energy Open your mind to DIY possibilities for becoming less tied to the grid, including self-built solar shower, solar dehydrator, sun oven, passive solar heating and building methods, off-grid solar electric, composting toilet, working with gravity in water capture, pond heat storage and season extension.
Small group practicum on a hugelcultur bed during last fall's Permaculture in Practice weekend.

SEPTEMBER 18-20  Annual Permaculture in Practice Weekend

Salamander Springs Farm will join forces again this year with the The Year of Mud to host its popular annual Permaculture in Practice intensive!  An exciting opportunity to immerse in the myriad aspects of living on a self-built, off-grid farm dedicated to regenerative permaculture farming practices including permanent garden bed management and hugelkultur, contour swales, ponds, water, no-till staple crops, utilizing solar energy, natural building and more. A fun and memorable weekend of learning not to be missed!

Learn to:

   Use local & renewable resources for water, energy, building, nutrients.
   Grow diverse food crops, staples grains and dry beans without tillage.
   Experience building with clay & straw, local lumber, salvage, earthen floor, passive solar tiny house, solar shower, humanure compost toilet, solar food dehydrator.
   Enjoy farm-grown veggies, staple foods, fruits, herbs, wild forage, nuts.

Salamander Springs Farm is committed to making permaculture skills workshops accessible to people with less resources and advantages in our society.
Contact us if you would like to donate a workshop scholarship to someone disadvantaged by race, ethnicity, sex, or economic circumstances, or if you would need to access a work-trade scholarship.

For a schedule of other events, conferences and workshops where Susana will be teaching in 2020, see the website Upcoming Events page.
Gratitude circle at last year's permaculture workshop.
No-till Market Garden Podcast
Susana was in another podcast this winter hosted by Jesse Frost. His podcast is fostering the growth of the organic no-till movement across the world.  Check it out!  
Need support getting started on your dreams and goals?
Susana is available for consultations and can offer workshops in your community.  See website for more inforation and contact us to plan a skills workshop or schedule a consultation at your homestead, community, farm or backyard.
Winter Storm & Challenges at the Farm
Opportunities to Support Salamander Springs

It has been a challenging winter at Salamander Springs Farm.  After repairs to the old solar electric system and other unexpected expenses, a severe storm on January 11 did a lot of damage.  Susana has been salvaging, repairing and taking on extra work.  She is deeply grateful for a caring and nurturing community who have reached out in so many ways.  She wants to thank many of you who have emailed, and regrets that being off-grid without internet, she's not able to individually reply to each of you.

A few folks have asked how they can help.  For those close-by, Susana would be grateful for help with clean-up and repair parties at the farm once the weather warms.  You can also donate to a clean-up and repair fund using the Paypal link below.  Lastly, share this newsletter and workshops with your community. As you know, Susana doesn't have social media. Thank you! ♥

Copyright © 2020 Salamander Springs Farm, All rights reserved.

Salamander Springs Farm
Clear Creek  I  Berea, Kentucky
(859) 893-3360‬

1 year ago
The venturi is generally misunderstood. It is a constriction used to create low pressure for side suction (like gasoline into the venturi in the air intake throat of a carburetor). Any restriction adds friction to the system and takes out energy. Nozzles and venturis increase flow speed not pressure.

Flues can be lengthened (to a point, eventually the extra cooling reduces draft) or insulated to increase draft.

The best source of information on woodstove draft is Chapter 5 "Chimneys" in The Woodburners Encyclopedia, which is available used from various sources.
1 year ago
"Tropic Sun" is a variety grown in Hawaii. If you search: "tropic sun" crotalaria , you'll find info and apparently the only seed source, on Molokai.
I have taken seed to Haiti and distributed it there for cover crop and goat forage.
There's an article "Sunn Hemp, Sheep and Goats" at:

3 years ago
For more money you could buy a complete thermosiphoning wood burning hot tub heater:

To thermosiphon effectively, the hot feed line needs to slope/flow up. So if you want to use a rocket stove, geometric considerations require the hottub to be elevated and/or the stove lowered. You could plumb the lines through the wall of a (probably aluminum) cookpot (with stainless steel bulkhead fittings with gasket inside the pot) on a rocket stove. It helps if the cold return slopes/flows down, but it is less critical. Bigger pipes have less friction and therefore flow better.
3 years ago
What do you plan to plant next year? How will you manage the crop? Till or no-till? Where are you? Still a little early to plant winter wheat. Vetch and/or crimson clover would be good if you want some nitrogen fixation. You could weaken some of the existing vegetation with a few weeks under black plastic. Tillage would give better soil contact for the seed and weaken the existing cover. That's why tillage is used.
3 years ago
In a constantly cold climate I'd go with a masonry stove. The rocket mass heater bell is to get heat out quick. You don't want that, you want steady output. I built a "Russian" stove (here in Kentucky) with the help of a professional mason for under $1000. Got Basilio Lepuschenko's "Complete Plans and Instructions for Construction and Operation of a Masonry Stove" from Maine Wood Heat. (no longer available) Not quite complete even if it's in the title. Haven't moved into the house yet so can't comment first hand on performance.
3 years ago
"Without detracting from the possibilities described for utilization of Opuntias in the production food and natural additives and the benefits for integrated use of the plant, many other popular uses have been known for centuries. Some of these are only now being studied scientifically. For example, the use of cladodes: to clarify water
(López, 2000); as an adherent for paint when added to lime (Ramsey, 1999); or to increase water infiltration into the soil (Gardiner, Felker and Carr, 1999).

Agro-industrial utilization of cactus pear, FAO, 2013, p.19.

Gardiner, Felker and Carr (1999) reported the first experiments on the use of cactus pear extracts for improving water infiltration in soils. After comparing polyacryl amides (PAM) with an undiluted and a diluted extract of cactus pear cladode, the authors found that use of this extract matched the infiltration rates found using PAM. However, many questions remain concerning this research, including the durability of the effect and how the extracts work in the soil. Again, follow-up R&D is recommended."

Agro-industrial utilization of cactus pear, FAO, 2013, p.99.

Gardiner, D., Felker, P. & Carr, T. 1999. Cactus extract increases water infiltration rates in two soils. Comunn. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 30 (11–12): 1707–1712
3 years ago