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Rich Points

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since Dec 29, 2017
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Recent posts by Rich Points

Hey Permies,
For the past couple of years I've been increasingly enthralled by permaculture, horticulture, homesteading, natural building and all the stuff we talk about here on these forums.   As I approach 50 years old I guess you could call me a lifelong environmentalist both personally and professionally.  But it wasn't until a few years ago that I rediscovered permaculture; I studied it briefly in grad school 20 years ago.  At the time I thought it was a bunch of hippy dippy mumbo jumbo, and here's the thing, I consider myself to be a full fledged hippy!  

Anyway permaculture has grown and matured quite a bit over the last 20 years and I'm glad to have rediscovered it.  Now it's all I can think about, all I want to pursue.  The framework that the permaculture principles provide have been incredibly empowering for me.  I feel like I now have a practical outlet to do something positive right here and now.  

Recently I've been diving deeper into Geoff Lawton's teachings and his videos online. I have to say I got chills when I saw his food forest presentation.  Geoff just oozes with enthusiasm and passion.  Geoff is one of the best advocates and educatiors in permaculture today.  IMHO. I think his voice should be heard by more people.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.

The Public Radio International show Living On Earth has been around for a good long time now.  If you haven't heard it before it's on a lot of NPR stations and can be downloaded as a podcast.  I've listened for years and have always found it to be a bit soft but overall I think it's a good quality show.

However I think it would be an excellent addition to have a regular guest segment with someone like Geoff Lawton to discuss the various permaculture principles, practices and techniques.  

What do you guys think?  Are you familiar with LOE?  Would you like to hear a regular permaculture segment on the show?  

Not sure how to do this though. I tried to email Geoff but his email doesn't seem to be public.  I guess an email to LOE and Steve Curwood, the host, is in order.  

Looking for ways to make permaculture a household word.

Thanks for reading

Hey everyone!
I just uploaded a video tour and review of my rocket mass heater build.

Thanks for watching
1 month ago
I recently found this new video from Geoff Lawton talking about Food Forests.  Geoff does an excellent job of describing how a food forest works and it's potential to solve many contemporary problems throughout the world  I got chills when I first watched it a few days ago, since then I've been sharing it whenever possible.

What I like about Geoff's presentation is his awe, wonderment and enthusiasm for the potential of the Food Forest.  I've been a permaculture enthusiast for several years now and I'm ready to engage at the level he's talking about.  But I wonder how it will be perceived by the masses.

My advice for your flier would be to distill it down even further.  Somehow encapsulate the potential in bite sized pieces.

here's the video

check out this awesome info graphic
food forest info graphic

Another thought that comes to mind is check out some of Paul Gauchie from Back to Eden gardening method.  He uses a lot of religious language in his permaculture.  I'm an atheist but this video tour of Paul's garden was very inspiring for me a few years back and was part of my introduction to permaculture.  But like Geoff, Paul has an infectious enthusiasm.

FYI I'm writing here because of a cross link from a similar thread I started this morning.
A Permaculture Resume?  What's Permaculture?
1 month ago
Hey All,
My name is Rich and I live in mid central lower Michigan, zone 5b, on 12 acres with my dad.  I moved here about 2 years ago and over that time I find myself obsessing over permaculture and it's potential.  I've long considered myself an environmentalist and have devoted much of my adult life to reducing my footprint and helping others do the same.  I studied permaculture briefly in grad school but it didn't resonate with me at the time.

Here at dads place we heat with wood, so when I first moved here I started researching how to burn wood more efficiently and of course I found the rocket mass heater.  I was immediately enticed by the RMH and quickly built a prototype.  Then another, and another.  I took workshops and was fortunate enough to study with Erica and Ernie Wisnar as I earned my PDC at Wheaton Labs.  I now have a fully functioning RMH in my space and it's fricken awesome!

My study of the RMH brought me back to the world of Permaculture, these days it's about all I can think about.

I'm trying to build a career as a consultant along with some kind(s) of cottage industry.  I've been a worm farmer for many years so I'm thinking about scaling up production.  

I could go on with more specifics about my skill set and situation but I'm hitting a wall that I suspect many of us are.  I live in a rural area with lots of poverty.  The local economy is driven by some light industrial factories, retail and big agriculture.  Lots of folks commute long distances for work.  I recently went to an earth day event at the high school and talked with folks from the master gardeners club, 4H and the county extension.  Not one person I talked to had heard of permaculture.

Over the past 2 years I've tried various things to try to connect with other permies in the area.  I've posted on the local gardening group on facebook, nobody know what permaculture is.  I hung fliers around town that say "Interested in Permaculture? Me too!! Let's chat".  No response.  I've posted on craigslist...nothing.  I have connected with a few folks here on there forums but they're all hours away.

I'm finding it hard to market myself as a permaculture consultant/practitioner when know one knows what it is.  

Somewhere along the way I picked up a piece of wisdom from a market farmer who says a big part of selling regenerative food is being an advocate and cheerleader for regenerative practices.  You have to educate your customers before you can sell to them...

I don't know, I'm at the end of my cash reserves so I started working on my resume which got me thinking about all of this.  

Anyway, if you have thoughts on how to proceed or air your own grievances I'd love to here them.

Frustrated yet impassioned.

1 month ago

So it turns out I bumped the wires on the unit which was set up using prototyping breadboards.  This prompted me to get my shit together and solder the thing up properly.  So I did that, for the most part anyway, and everything is working nicely.  

2 months ago
I first discovered Paul G and the "Back to Eden" method about a year and a half ago when Justin Rhodes stopped by his farm and made a video as part of his great American farm tour.  I was immediately inspired and soon began bringing woodchips onto the property.  The more wood chips I get the more I study the concept of sheet mulching and no till.  I've come to learn there is plenty of science behind the "method".  I've come to think of Paul as a great cheerleader for sheet mulching and permaculture in general who has inspired all kinds of people like me.  But he has a tendency to oversimplify and embellish where he sees fit; everything you could want in a good PR person ;)

As I continued to study I found real scientists like Dr Elaine Ingham, Jeff Lowenfels, Dr Red Hawk, Tad Hussey and plenty of others who are all studying the mechanics of the soil food web.  

If you're recently inspired by Paul and the BTE method I highly recommend looking up the folks above.  And you may want to start with Jeff Lowenfels book Teaming with Microbes which is the first of a three part series of books on the soil food web.
Teaming with Microbes

A couple of months ago I discovered Charles Dowding and his youtube channel.  Charles has his own methods which aren't all that different than Paul's but he promotes his method as no dig. Anyway I highly recommend checking out his high quality how-to videos.

Charles Dowding on Youtube

Happy Planting Ya'll
2 months ago
How big would you like the retort to be?

Perhaps something like the rocket stove pizza oven that has been discussed here on the forums.  These ovens have me asking the same question, how do you maintain a constant temperature.

I recently built a J Tube system with a high temperature sensor at the top of the heat riser.  I tend to see sharp spikes as new fuel is introduced.  My heater is only 5 weeks old so I've only had it for a short while but I've been able to play.  I tried to maintain a constant temp in the core but found it difficult.  I suspect a batch box would produce more of a consistent output.

Here's another thread of mine discussing the sensor and it's output.

Data logging RMH temps

3 months ago
So after running this heater for one month to the day it appears that the thermocouple temperature sensor has stopped working...  Not sure what happened as the device is rated for 1200C and I haven't seen anything close to that hot.  I'm gonna finish out the season before I take the barrel off for the annual cleaning at which point I'll inspect the sensor and see what's going on.  

So I'm in the market for a replacement.  Anyone have experience with high temp sensors like this?  Where can I get a high quality one?

BTW this is the unit I'm currently using
3 months ago
Here is a "typical" day.  This snapshot shows slightly more than 24 hours.  This is roughly 3 hours of burning in the morning and 4 hours in the evening.  

I'll be writing some code to record how many hours of fire there is each day; something like 350F and above.
3 months ago
I tend to burn twice a day, first thing in the morning for 3-5 hours and again in the evening for about the same 3-5 hours.  I'll burn for shorter lengths of time next year when the building has more insulation.
3 months ago