Midwest Permaculture PDC Course #78 A Picture Summary This was our First PDC at Bending Oak Permaculture Farm Youngstown, OH – In August 2018 A Project Site we are Co-designing with the Owner
“…this course (at Bending Oak) was solid, loaded, useful, fascinating and endlessly helpful in understanding permaculture design. Everyone came away feeling completely enriched by the training.” PDC Student Graduate
Here is some information about the progress we are making with our outdoor shower house projects. With campers coming to our Stelle (Il) and Bending Oak (Youngstown, OH) projects this summer we want to have a way that they can take a warm shower using current sunlight (scrap wood) to heat the water. (More on solar vs. wood burning hot shower water systems below.)
The goals for our shower houses are 5-fold; 1. Non-permanent and portable 2. Knock-down for winter storage 3. Inexpensive (easily available or recycled materials) 4. Easy to assemble/duplicate 5. Attractive (Has to have a welcoming factor)
The first concept we came up with that cost the least turned out to be more of a job to construct than first imagined, may not hold up in a hard wind, and frankly, looks a bit tacky (to me). But the price is right at $65.
This is an April 2016 Blog Post on how we built a Thermal Mass Rocket Stove at Jordan Rubin’s ‘Heal the Planet Farm’.
(We cover the foundations of rocket stove building at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.)Schedule of Upcoming Courses
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.
Designed by Bill Wilson (MWP) and Kevin Kepplinger (HTP Farm) Construction and Design Assistance from Heal the Planet Farm Team (All are Midwest Permaculture PDC graduates)
The key modifications we made to this stove that are not usually found on more traditional rocket mass heaters are:
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.
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.
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.
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:
I am very much looking forward to teaching this upcoming PDC with fellow permaculture designers/farmers, Josh and Brian Shultz. Both are Midwest Permaculture PDC Graduates but had been doing advanced permaculture work long before that.
While there, we will learn about the work they are doing on behalf of the environment and how they are teaching ‘care of earth’ to school students and the general public. The people at PCCI are walking the talk every day. We will be in great hands and at a great location for this training.
And when it is time to get out of the classroom and learn by doing and seeing I will be taking everyone over to Josh and Brian’s combined endeavors, Fair Lake Farm and Cedar Creek Permaculture Farm (see picture summary below). They have both done amazing work in various fields and I know that as students, you will be learning a great deal by examining what they have accomplished and are planning to do.
To be clear, since this will be a PDC course I will be teaching the full PDC Curriculum including urban, suburban and residential permaculture applications. We will be looking at how to design for various climates and for unusual circumstances.
Students will also be invited to bring their own design projects for we will set aside an entire evening to do nothing but explore the real-life design challenges of those who have a specific project. Not everyone will or is expected to bring a project but we will all learn by exploring those projects that are brought to the table. This is going to be a fabulous training and I am looking forward to meeting many new permaculture minds and hearts.
Why A Year-Round Greenhouse is part of This Permaculture Design
It doesn’t take much for those of us in temperate climate zones to imagine the allure for year-round greenhouses. Fresh tomatoes in January are compelling! A more controlled and protected environment in spring, summer and fall has real advantages as well. And from a small business perspective, what if we could produce enough fresh produce for ourselves and a handful of our neighbors 52 weeks of the year?
In a good permaculture design for an urban residence, a homestead or a farm, the first thing we seek to accomplish is the efficient storage of summer crops through root cellaring, drying, fermentation and other forms of preserving. But once we accomplish this… few things beat fresh produce in the middle of winter.
To get this done we need to design for the two major demands of plants that are in short supply during the winter months: heat and light.
Why Wood Gasification is part of This Permaculture Design
Wood Gasification is the process of converting wood (any kind of scraps or trimmings) into flammable gasses by burning it at very high temperatures in an oxygen starved environment. These gasses, once cooled and cleaned of tars, can be piped directly into an internal combustion engine as a fuel substitute for gasoline…!!!
We have designed in the use of wood gasification units for:
Running trucks, tractors and other vehicles and machinery
Generating heat and electricity in the winter for greenhouses and homes
Being able to harvest the energy from sunlight stored in woody plants, from our own land
Using the waste product, biochar, to increase the fertility of our gardens and food forests which will also be pulling excess Co2 out of the atmosphere and locking it up
And the wood gasification units burn much, much cleaner than wood stoves because of the high temperatures. They actually burn off almost all of the smoke and gasses, turning even these into additional energy.
You won’t! Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses. These include:
Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
Doing fruit tree grafting
Making cob from clay, sand and straw
and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.
The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.
The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.
Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food. This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights.
To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas.
If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities. It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.
Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012) Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)