Sarah Joubert

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since Feb 09, 2015
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hugelkultur forest garden solar
Farmed "oldschool" with chickens & beef on a smallholding. Have come to the conclusion there is no "if you cant beat em, join em"with the big boys. You need a David approach to the Goliaths out there.
Currently in UK saving to buy our own bit of dirt back in SA, plan to go off grid, self sufficient from the start and help uplift jobless communities by showing them what is possible with very little input using permaculture .
Eastern Cape,South Africa Zone Cfb, Annual rainfall 570mm,
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Recent posts by Sarah Joubert

Hat's off (you have space!) to everyone who posted here. Inspirational! Makes me feel like an uninspired clod but I shall save this thread and peruse it regularly to nick your ideas..........
3 years ago
I think the off gases (if that is true) would still infiltrate the food, which is why I was thinking of a "mass" style which has a separate fire box and vents out a chimney.
3 years ago
Welcome Knut!
I don't know about hugelkulture beyond what it is. I just wanted to comment on your lack of ability to bring in materials. I know that with hugelculture you add pockets of different materials but still require a decent "topping". My suggestion is aimed more at producing that topping than building hugelkultures. Of course, I have no idea how big your project is and if you visit the site often, but if you are building hugels in stages and you are there a lot, you could "manufacture" a cubic m of compost in around a month using the method demonstrated by Geoff Lawton and others. there are loads of youtube videos  
 and Geoff has a complete soil building video that is very interesting.

I have personally tried it and it does work! I had a site that was in a forest of blue gums far away from my house. I would accumulate a bucket of kitchen scraps (green matter) and take it whenever it was full. I'd alternate with sacks of horse manure (nitrogen and innoculants) I could carry up. I used the bluegum leaves and twigs (you could use pine needles) for carbon and build a 1 square meter pile, as the carbon needs to be around 80%, most of the material is onsite. Once I'd completed the pile-I built the first one over 2 weeks- I let it sit for 4 days before starting to turn. The first pile took about 5 weeks in total but I started building the next pile as soon as I had finished building the first. You very quickly end up with loads of piles! Now, I know (from experience) that turning loads of piles is a lot of work but I found that you could skip turnings -you get days when you just can't face it-which lengthened the process slightly. I am a not-so-young, slightly unfit woman and I regularly managed to turn a fluctuating total of up to 5 piles. Stacking functions really, as I improved my health and fitness levels! Adding pee or comfrey tea is also a great way of adding moisture and nitrogen and can be carried up in a 20L drum. I would advise adding the pee at the beginning to allow time and heat to sterilise.

Just an idea, each one's situation is different. maybe someone else has something else to offer?
3 years ago
It's only cooking in the oven that exposes food apparently. Food cooked in a pot over a flame (hob/stove top) is perfectly safe. I was hoping to avoid mass heating and cooking as it gets very hot here which is why I was interested in biogas for oven cooking.

I think I mentioned diversifying fuel/energy options above- thanks for the reminder about dry cow pats . I suppose I am working on 2 fronts, what I can do for my own homestead and what can be easily and cheaply utilised in poor communities.
The original issue was how far could one go with biogas as an energy source and a few people came up with some great info and useful applications and modifications. My last post referred specifically to OVEN cooking. If biogas is unsuitable for oven cooking, the I have to consider mass again and address the heat problems. I suppose a solution would be an outdoor kitchen for summer use. A communal kitchen shouldn't have too many issues as the space is not living space so discomfort would be limited to a few hours a day. I just thought that a gas fuelled mass oven would be more practical in a communal arrangement as it could end up being more efficient as it's "on" all the time so doesn't cool and need to reheat every time someone wants to use it. There is also no need to arrange a "feeding" schedule (wood, cow pats or charcoal) or the risk of the mass cooling because it wasn't maintained properly. Cast iron ranges are also quite freely available here-old aga s and other ranges.

My question was more a technical one. COULD a communal system feasibly produce enough biogas to run a gas mass oven? Batch fed?
3 years ago
I look forward to your build biography Candy! I still have not had the opportunity to experiment so I look forward to yours.

Thank you R Scott for the tip on greens, a good way to increase gas yield.

Since starting this thread I have struggled with the problem of running an oven from biogas-apparently you cant due to off-gasses infusing food with toxins. That's what I was told by a biogas appliance seller. However,I was wondering about converting a solid mass stove to run off gas as opposed to wood or coal-put a gas burner in the fuel box. I know it means the gas would be on the whole time and that gas supply may be an issue in a small system, but for those of us who are "timber poor", could it work? It may be a solution to hot water/heating too if you get a range with a water heating facility or just copper pipe wrapped around/behind the mass and thermo siphoning into a storage tank. Any thoughts?
3 years ago
Hi candy, I see the link above is not working. This:  
   has a practical how to and links to the biogas facebook page.
3 years ago
Hola Sergi!
Perdona por favor mi falta de español. Todavía estoy aprendiendo. I must confess, I used google translate.

I think your English is much better than my Spanish. So far I have learned the pronouns, male and female, eating and drinking. I think I have very far to go to be able to communicate with authorities in Spain!

Thank you for the advice and I am very impressed with your project and the stand you have made with the authorities. It shows huge commitment and passion on your part to risk fines and imprisonment. As much as I admire you, I cannot afford to go to jail for "crimes against the community" even though I believe you are correct in following age old customs that didn't require legislation until recently. I shall have to abide by the laws of the land-being a foreigner means I have to stay within the law or risk deportation. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

We plan to come to Spain in December for a month to look around and see the region in the winter. We are from South Africa originally and like warm weather . After working so long in UK, we feel the need for a little warmth so we are looking for a spot that has mild, short winters. I really hope we can stop by and see your place, I know it's further north than we are looking but it will be nice to see what you are up to. Do you offer overnight accommodation?

I hope I will be able to make use of your local knowledge. And if there is anything I can bring for you-I was thinking seeds-maybe Moringa or something else you struggle to get, please let me know.
3 years ago
Hi Sergi!
Thanks for sharing your site with us. I can't see all the photos but did see the ones of you erecting a building. We are thinking of moving to Catalonia-Gandesa and I am keen to know how difficult and expensive it was to get planning permission for renovation and new build. Are they open to alternative/natural buildings?
I was also interested in local climate. It seems that there are various climate zones in a very small area due to topography. I was quite surprised to see you mention -15C! How often (nights/month)does the temp sink to below zero? During which months?
How do you sustain the 3 families?
I look forward to further posts.
3 years ago
I confess, I very, very rarely listen to podcasts. I have some of them-part of candy offered along with stuff I'm really interested in. However, I have all off a sudden had a brainwave (i'm a bit slow). When I read the dailyish email, my thought was "I'm going to set up a monthly $1 payment to patreon because I appreciate all the other stuff that Paul- and everyone else who contributes to this community-does. So feeling very proud of myself for such a novel thought duly followed the thread in order to post my intention hoping to inspire other dim witted, slow people to do the same. I was extremely humbled to scroll through the posts only to find that others (and I'm not calling them dim witted!)were already doing so and encouraging others to participate. So I can only add my small voice to the others and say" Come on, lets show our appreciation for whatever we get out of permies and complete the permie circle-Paul does more than the lion's share and we can all contribute to "care of the people", and $1/month is hardly "surplus". It just takes a bit of effort to set up-you can do it while waiting for your pizza to arrive.....

Thanks Paul, you are amazing and responsible for the start of my permaculture journey. Your site was the first to pop up when I started querying this "permaculture" that kept interfering when I was trying to find farming stuff.
The best I can do for the diagram is a photo of my computer screen so unfortunately it's not great.
3 years ago