Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater

Taught by Bill Wilson and Members of the Midwest Permaculture Design Team

Bill Wilson

Built at Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm – Early 2016
Designed by Bill Wilson (MWP) and Kevin Kepplinger (HTP Farm)
Construction and Design Assistance from the Heal the Planet Farm Team (All are Midwest Permaculture PDC graduates)

We call it the Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater because of it’s sheer size and multiple modifications we designed into it. The whole stove is built around an 8″ flue system that exits outside of the greenhouse below floor level, under the greenhouse end-wall, and then turns towards the sky.

Rocket Stove Mix

The key modifications we made to this stove that are not usually found on more traditional rocket mass heaters are:

  1. ?The feed chamber is very large capable of holding full-sized firewood logs so it can be loaded to burn for up to 4 hours at a time and produce a lot of heat.
  2. The thermal battery or thermal mass is below grade and insulated so the heat will not wick into the soil surrounding it but instead radiate up to keep fish (aquaponics system) and bedding plants warm even in the dead of winter.
  3. We installed a multiple-speed flue fan and a flue damper near the end of the exhaust pipe to give ourselves greater control over the speed of the exhaust and even the burn. We can slow the exhaust down to hold the heat in the thermal mass longer when it’s hot or speed it up when we need a stronger pull to get it started. We know this is unorthodox and a bit like cheating, but it’s very helpful and the fan is variable speed using very little electricity.

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Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model

Permaculture Earthworks lay Model

Dripping water slowly on to the clay model clearly shows how rain water can be moved around a landscape and held to rehydrate the soil.

As permaculture teachers, we have landed on this simple clay-model demonstration as an excellent tool for explaining earthworks. We can cover how swales, ponds, key points and key lines all fit together. The appreciative response from our students continually confirms this.

We wanted to make this video available to more than just our own students so we videotaped this session at one of our summer PDC courses and are sharing it here.

Birth of Earthworks Model

We created this model out of necessity when hosting our first winter PDC course (2010) and realized that we couldn’t take students outside to carve into our earth-mound because it was frozen solid. A quick call to a potter friend produced this 15 lb. block of clay and the Midwest Permaculture Earthworks-Clay-Model was born.

The model also lends itself to an introduction or review of micro-climates, frost zones, house and garden placement, soil building, carbon sequestration, nutrient accumulation, variations in swale design, and more.

This video and demonstration is not an exhaustive study into earthworks, just a simple but clear model. We go into greater detail about keylining and pond building later in the PDC course but the model makes even those explanations more understandable too.

After viewing, you are invited to share your thoughts at the bottom of the page. Your ideas on how to improve the model are welcomed.

Note: We give our permission to other permaculture teachers to use this video or to share this model with their own students. We are openly sharing this educational idea under a Creative Commons License.  Sharing is a permaculture pattern exemplified by the very gift of ‘permaculture’ that David Holmgren and Bill Mollison gave to the world years ago. Many other permaculture teachers continue this pattern today. Let’s be the change. Cheers.

Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade

3 Miles of Swales Cut in 5-Hours

We are making early progress on our 320-acre Missouri permaculture-farm project (Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm).  Last fall, a local dozer operator was brought in to dig the first swales.  It was a small dozer but it did a respectable job and did the work in a relatively short period of time compared to an excavator. See the blog post with video here.

Before we brought the dozer back in this spring, Kevin, a long-time farmer in the area who is also Jordan’s lead farmer on this project, suggested that we simply try the 135hp farm tractor with it’s 9-foot tilting scraper blade (it’s just over 6′ wide when fully angled at 45 degrees) to see what kind of swales it would cut. It certainly seemed worth trying though I’d never seen it done before.

Adam and I headed out early one morning with the laser level and marked off about a mile of swales with white-wire flags.  When Kevin arrived later in the morning with the tractor all he had to do was adjust the angle of the blade, drop it down, and start running.  He ran three passes on every swale we had marked and did it all in about 60 minutes! Continue reading “Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade”

Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri

Midwest Permaculture Plant Guild Designs, Bryce Ruddock, Rubin Project - Compressed Version

Click on Image to View the Full Size (10MB)
Feel free to download, forward, print or share with others. It’s really interesting.

As part of the full design for Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm in Koshkonong, MO, we will be creating a demonstration food-forest walk consisting of 6-distinct plant guilds, all designed by Midwest Permaculture’s official plant guy and co-author of Integrated Forest Gardening, Bryce Ruddock.  We thought you might like to take a closer look at the final design sketch which was digitally crafted by our fellow teacher/designer, Milton Dixon. 

The earthworks and tree planting are scheduled to happen either this fall or in spring of 2016. We’ll keep you posted.

Below is the overview image of where the guild fit into the larger Zone 1 area.

Bill Wilson Continue reading “Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri”

Dry Brick Rocket Stove Maple Evaporator

Greetings…

At the last minute this winter we decided to tap our mature maple tree (just one tap) and boil off some sap to make a small amount of maple syrup.  I was equally interested in building an experimental rocket stove as an evaporator with the materials I had on hand.  It worked great!

With some landscaping bricks, a dutch oven and a bit of home-made cob we had our stove chugging along in about an hour… maple syrup in 5 hours.   3+ gallons of sap made 1 cup. of syrup. Here are some pictures:

 

Built by stacking the dry bricks into a chimney and burn chamber. Sap is boiling. All smoke is just the steam from the dutch oven evaporator.

I built the stove by dry stacking (no mortar) the bricks to form a chimney and burn chamber. We nestled the dutch oven in to serve as the top of the burn chamber so it would receive direct flames for a hot, rapid boil.

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EarthCamp Village

Why ‘EarthCamp’ Village is part of This Permaculture Design

In William McDonough’s book, Cradle-to-Cradle, he talks about the importance for us as humans to reexamine the way we build our homes and other structures/buildings.  The big question is, how much waste and pollution is generated while building, maintaining and finally demolishing our structures?  It is about 40% of the entire waste stream of “civilized” cultures.

Our objective in building EarthCamp Village is to see how close we can get to creating structures that last a very-long time but create and generate very-little waste or CO2.

 

Timber Framing Done -EarthCamp Village - Aug.2013

The timber framing for the cob cabin is up…!!!   The first structure for EarthCamp Village

Click Here for Picture Summary of the Building of Earth-Shelter #1

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Earth-Shelter #1 – CSC Permaculture Design

Ground breaking has begun for EarthCamp Village which is part of our 8.7 acre permaculture design for Center for Sustainable Community here in Stelle, IL. We started working on Earth-Shelter #1 on July 15, 2013.  All updates related to this one cabin will be posted here.  Feel free to leave messages, ideas or comments.  Let’s learn about this together.

Leveling the ground

Imagine waking up in the morning and stepping out of a cabin with a view like this?  EarthCamp Village overlooks Mint Creek Farm–an organic farm with pasture-raised animals.

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Plant Guilds

Free Plant Guilds eBooklet

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Bryce Ruddock

Integrated Forest Gardening
Released in 2015
From our Friends and Associates…
Bryce, Dan and Wayne.

Bryce is Midwest Permaculture’s Official ‘Plant Guy’. When we have questions about plants or need detailed design work for clients, he’s our go-to guy and wonderful to work with as well.

 Integrated Forest Gardening - Released July 2014

Learn More About This New Book Here

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A Cal-Earth Permaculture Course Picture Summary

Post Update (March 2016)
Our 6th Annual Combined
Super-Adobe and Permaculture-Design Certificate Courses

Oct. 3-15, 2016

You Will Receive the Best of what
Cal-Earth and Midwest Permaculture have to Offer

— Information about the Cal-Earth portion of this training and registration here.
— About the world renowned Permaculture Design Certificate Course here.
— How Midwest Permaculture delivers this comprehensive training (regardless of the location) here.
— Download a .PDF of the PDC course curriculum outline here.

Below is a picture summary from our 2012 joint training to give you an idea of how full and rich this combined training is. 
Please Note: Geoff and Nadia’s visit was a one-time event. They are not expected to join us this year (2016).

Cal-Earth Interior

Interior View of ‘Triple-Vault’– A Super-Adobe Structure at Cal-Earth   –   Students will learn the basics of how to build structures like this and how to design the total environment surrounding it at this combined training.

 

Blog Post Below from 2012
Pictures and Text by Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture

For a second year we co-delivered with the Cal-Earth teaching staff a combined Superadobe Earth Building and Permaculture Design Certificate Course.  At the close of our training we were pleased to host Geoff and Nadia Lawton of PRI-Australia who shared their work in desert environments with us while they were in the USA for a brief visit.  This workshop was also opened to the general public seen here at the end of a really great day of learning.

Our 2012 Cal-Earth PDC on Guest Day with Geoff and Nadia Lawton – Picture taken on one of the Cal-Earth buildings.

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Chinampas Gardens

Why Chinampas Gardens are part of This Permaculture Design

Chinampas Gardens are artificial islands or peninsulas created by scooping nutrient-rich lake, swamp or pond muck into a woven cage so that crops can be grown above the waterline in a wet environment. Within this simple design, several unique functions are accomplished at once: a micro-climate that prevents early frost damage; an extremely productive soil that is mostly self-sustaining; a self-watering system created by water wicking in from the sides as moisture evaporates from the surface of the beds; and the growing of plants and fish within the same area.

In Particular we want to: 

  • Test the efficacy of Chinampas in our northerly-temperate climate
  • Assess their productivity and labor requirements compared to regular garden beds
  • Try something very different and creative.

 

 

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