As of right now, my plans are very fluid. When I was considering doing this on my own, I could come up with much more specific plans. Professionally, I work as a IT Project Manager, so I know first hand the difficulty of organizing people on a project. 200 people is very ambitious! I was not thinking anything so large (at least to start with...) My thoughts are at the present is to buy land with a group of 4-10 other people and for each partner to have a Salatin type fiefdom that we run. We can all help out with each others projects as needed, and like your article suggests, we can pool resources for tools and such since it makes little sense for all of us to buy our own. But until the group is formed, it is hard to say what the plan is until we know what everyone's wants, needs, and skills are.
I think your Farmland Fund Plan is great and hope that is is successful! If it turns out that the fund is ready the same time I get my group formed, maybe we can be your first applicant!
Like many around here, I've been dreaming of starting a farm for several years now. I've slowly been making progress towards being able to buy land and get started, but the realities keep sinking in and I am realizing that doing this on my own will take another decade at least, and even that might not be possible. I have come to the conclusion that if I could find partners with the same dreams, we could get going much faster (2 to 5 years). And there is no reason why a farm can only provide one income, so it makes sense to have more than one of us working the farm.
I currently live in south Seattle, and for various reasons, I need to stay in my current home. So, I am looking for farm land in the Greater Seattle area, not to move on to, but just to farm. I am open to leasing land to get things started. This also makes selling products to the Seattle market much easier. I would not be quitting my day job just yet, and I would not expect partners to do so either, but I am looking for people who can commit to working the farm in their off time just as I would be doing. Unfortunately, I can't bank roll the whole operation my self, so partners would need to provide equal initial funding. At some point, we might be able to take on "sweat equity" partners, but to get started, you will need to bring some money to the table.
If this sounds interesting to you, please let me know. I'd love to meet up in person with anyone interested in doing this with me.
Just spending time observing is important too. Where are the wet spots? The cold spots? What areas get the most sun in the dead of winter? What gets shaded all summer? The answers to all these questions will help you determine what to plant and where. When you go out to the property, take a journal and write down notes.
I would suggest looking into local architects. There are many who specialize in eco-friendly buildings and they know the ins and outs of the local and state codes. Paying for a good consult, or even plans, that you know have been vetted and inspected, will save you both time and money down the line.
Chris, when I said not worth it, I was specifically speaking about jumping through all the hoops to get a standard RMH working in a tiny trailer home. With the weight limitations, I just don't see it working out well without breaking your axles. I am not saying that eco friendly heating efforts are not worth it, just that RMH are not the answer. Now, if you want to build a tiny house on a foundation, then a RMH could work. But if you must build a home on a trailer, then I think considering a tiny conventional woodstove is still a good option. Yes, you are not getting as good of efficiency as a RMH, but you are making up for that by having a home that is 1/10th the size of a modest conventional home. I absolutely encourage you to experiment, but you asked why you haven't seen anyone else do a RHM in a tiny trailer home, and this is why.
The problem with having a RMH in a tiny trailer home is the mass. You are usually confined by the weight limit of the trailer and the house and you posessions usually are maxing that out. Trying to add in an additional 1000-2000 pounds for a RMH will push you over the limit. There was some talk at one point of making a portable system that used water as the mass. This system could be stored in the trailer while moving, placed out side when at your location and filled with water. After the water was heated with the rocket stove, you would then pump the water through radiator system in the home to get the radiant heat effect. This system has not been built, so it is all theoretical.
In reality, I am not sure it would be worth the effort. When you are only trying to heat <200 sqft, using a small Sardine Stove, while not as efficient, would be much more simple. It wouldn't take much to heat up the place, and if it was well insulated, it would stay warm for quite a while.
I like a lot of things about Grays Harbor county. Usually, they will approve building permits on existing tax lots even if they are less than the required lot size as long as you are able to build withing the required lot line set backs. But that is a scenario where you would definitely want to call the planning department because I've seen lots where they will not approve. Grays Harbor is one of the counties that doesn't have their critical areas (wetlands, flood zones, landslide areas, etc) availible as an online map, so you should ask about those sorts of things when you talk to them also.
My electric cooler is 12v so it doesn't run off of the inverter. But I do have a small microwave, toaster and and blender I use it for. The boat also was originally wired with 120v lighting, which I've now replaced with LED bulbs, so I can run that off of the inverter when not on shore power. Also, the occasional use of small power tools happens when I'm not on shore power and it has worked well for everything so far.
There are ways to create anchoring systems in retaining walls so you can build them without a back slope, but you would need something more rigid than snow fencing to do this. Here is an example. With typical soils, you can build a vertical wall up to three feet high without any sort of back slope or anchoring system. Anything above that, the pressure from the bermed walls will become great enough that you need to do something to stabilize the wall.
Matt Tebbit wrote:
One question, people mention putting an inch and a half lean on each level of the tire. What's the purpose of this? Is it to compensate for the weight of the earth built up on the other side?
Yes. They mostly do this to appease the building inspectors though. I don't think the earth piled behind the tires on a relatively flat surface will really push them in, unless you are on a pretty steep slope and the hill is pushing down on the back wall. But it doesn't hurt to lean the tires out a bit anyway just to be safe.
Whoa!!! No, this is not just to appease the building inspectors!!! This is a really important step. I spent several years working as a geotechnical engineer and I've seen more than a few failures due to poor retaining wall construction. You do not want this happening inside your house. This will happen even on a flat surface. This is one of those things that I would say, if you don't understand, you really should not be deigning your own earth bermed house.
Matt, I know you are trying to save money, but if you really want to build an earthship with no prior building experience, I think it is worth it to buy the plans from Earthship Biotecture. The amount of headaches you will avoid and costly mistakes that you will have to go back and correct, will be more than worth the cost of the plans. At the least, volunteer to go work on a build before you start your own. The amount you will learn there will be more save you in the long run.
The types of vegetables you can grow has more to do with your soil types than the Hugelkultur it self. The best thing to do it to plant a lot of different things and see what grows well and what doesn't. If you start to see plants showing specific issues related to nutrient deficienies, then you can amend your soil to improve those condidtions. The wood is really only there to hold the moisture so you don't have to water as much.
I've never heard of anyones experiences using eucalyptus logs in the Hugelkultur, but I do know that eucalyptus is fairly rot resistant, which will not be very good in this case. If you have wood that is partially rotted already that you could include with the eucalyptus, that might help. You really want wood that is going to start to rot soon. If you use eucalyptus, don't expect to see any significant moisture holding capacity for the first few years.
Hugelkultur isn't really going to be effected by the elevation. Sepp Holzer's farms have been around the 1500 meters above sea level, and it works great for him. If really has to do with how much rain you can capture and store in the beds. There isn't really a way to measure the efficiency there.
Resistivity testing is a tried and true method for helping to find groundwater, but this device will not reliably locate water more than a meter or two down unfortunately. And even if you had higher powered unit with enough sensitivity to get readings at more than 20+ feet, it actually takes quite a bit of training to interpret the results as the data can be effected by various factors which, if not accounted for, would give you a lot of false positives.
I wouldn't say any county is better than other, just that they have different zoning regulations. For instance, if you were to do a search for "grays harbor county zoning" you would end up at their zoneing document:
In that document, you can find all the "permitted uses", "conditional uses" and "Prohibited uses". These will detail out what zoning will allow things like Accessory Dwelling Units, RV parks, Multi-family dwellings, etc. You'll see things like in the RURAL RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT section, you are allowed to have Mobile and RV parks in some circumstances, as well as one dwelling unit per acre.
It isn't necessarily easier if there is an existing house other than it is one less building you need to get permitted. And if you can convert an already existing building into a multifamily dwelling, that can simplify some things. But sometimes an existing house will be situated in such a way that you would not be able to create additional building lots (which is based on Building site verbiage in the zoning doc). It can be a blessing or a curse.
In general though, the more rural a county, the better availability of lots that have not already been carved up to the maximum extent. Those rural county planning departments are generally open to you calling them up and saying something like "I'm looking for a property where I can build two or three homes for me, my parents, and possibly my adult children, and wanted to know which zoning I should be looking at?" As long as you don't make it sound like you are trying to create some sort of militant survival retreat, they will be helpful. Then if you can find a property where you can build two or three homes, and find a similar property near by, you can get your 4 to 6 houses in a relatively close proximity.
Here is the last thread where it was discussed. In it, Paul points us to a thread over on Code Ranch (paul's other site) where they discussed making the forum software work with Tapatalk. If you have any coding skills, and want to do the work, here is that thread. Basically, it isn't going to get done unless someone volunteers to make it work.
Tapatalk requires server side code to work. Since the software that runs this site is not one of the platforms that have a pre-built plugin, it would require the admins to custom code a solution using the Tapatalk API. In the past, no one has been willing to do that work, rather they have been focusing on the mobile version of the site: permies.com/t/ . The mobile version is far better then it used to be, but yes, it is still missing some features of the full site.
Matt, those 6 principles I posted in the first post were actually copied and pasted directly from the Earthship Biotecture site. They are not mine, but are actually what Michael Reynolds defines an earthship as. It is true that most earthsips have earthberms as a way to store solar energy, as per the first design principle, but there is no requirement for it. The point is to have a home that is as self sufficient as possible, and in my climate, there just is not enough days of sunshine to justify a earthberm wall. Instead I've opted to go with the superior insulation of strawbale.
In this design it is important that the greenhouse is attached because I will be circulating the warm air from the greenhouse into the main house. I could do this with insulated vents and such, but that significantly increases the complexity, and probably makes passive air circulation much less of a reality. This would be a problem if the air in the greenhouse was very moist and I pushed that air into the house. But, and maybe I just use greenhouses differently than other people, but in my current, stick-built detached passive solar greenhouse, I do not have moisture problems. I do plan on putting a vapor barrier up between where the greenhouse attaches to the strawbale wall which will prevent issues there.
For me though, the last 5 points are far more important than the Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling, and those self contained systems are what differentiates any other home from and earthship. And yes, I was thinking I would go with post and beam rather than load bearing strawbale. I've heard both your view that load bearing is much harder and the opposing view, but in the earthquake prone PNW, I think post and beam is a much more resilient structure. Plus, I want to get the roof up ASAP so I don't have to worry about a surprise rain storm that soaks my bales as I'm putting them up.
I'm another who is looking to ditch the cubicle and find a nice patch of land in Western Washington. I currently own a home in Seattle, but have been looking for a similar piece of property for a few years. The Wa State Growth Management Act really did a number on people wanting to start communities like this. Each county has their own rules on zoning, so you almost have to pick a few counties that you are interested in and learn their zoning rules. I spent a few years as a real estate agent, so I had a bit of a head start in learning the local regulations, but it still doesn't make it easy. Let me know if I can help in your search in anyway! Good Luck.
One of the big reasons I want to quit my desk job and start doing permaculture farming full time is because of my ADHD. All my activities outside of work are ones where I am constantly barraged with inputs and never get to focus on one thing for more than a short while. But at my work, I have to spend significant amounts of time on single tasks day after day. Once I realized what and who I am, I had a choice of either medicating my self to be like the office drones so that I could succeed at my job, or I could focus on making a new job where my ADHD would actually be an asset. Nothing seemed to fit until I found permaculture. Function stacking is exactly how my brain works. I am never just doing one thing at any given time.
I love the enthusiasm! A word of caution though. Many people set out with grand ideas of improving the rocket mass heater concept by adding in all sorts of functionality, or making it work in a situation where it never has been done before. Now, I am not saying that this is impossible, but if you've never built a RMH before, there is a steep learning curve to be had. The general advice is to build at least one standards RMH before you start out on trying to improve the design. There are a whole lot of very experienced people who are trying to do the same things you are thinking about, but they al started with the standard design first so that they could get a grasp on the subtleties of the system.
In fact, based on the description of your space, it sounds like a standard RMH would do great. No modifications needed! Is there a particular thing that you think is missing from the system that you need or something that you don't think a standard RMH will do for you?
Allen, is this the video you were talking about? The URL you provided was to the video uploads page for broaudio, not to a video it self.
In this video, he is seemingly cooling both sides of the TEG. These devices work on therm differences, one side cool and one side hot. I am not sure why he is putting a heat sink on both sides, unless the stove is just to hot and is damaging the device. In that case, it wouldn't be an improvement to find additional heat to be extracted from a stove as the device is already at its heat capacity. What you could do is build a smaller stove that has much more focused heat spot but still burns efficiently.
Thank Brian, the reason I posted here was becasue I wanted to get a variety of opinions. I may not always agree with them, but still I want to hear them!
Nope, no plans to berm up any of the walls. Here in the maritime PNW, our climate is mild enough that I am not convinced that any sort of buried walls/structures are really going to be an advantage. We don't get enough consecutive days of sunshine to really heat up any annualized solar thermal mass. This is the reason I'm not going with the traditional earthship rammed earth tires, and opting for strawbales instead and have a rocket mass heater for supplemental heating. Getting rid of the tires also gets rid of the labor issue. Strawbale houses are fast and easy to build in comparison!
Places where I have seen attached greenhouses have issues are places where you have high humidity/low dew point issues or where you have extremely hot summers and not enough ventilation. Neither of those factors are an issue for where I live. In fact, I have been to more than a few homes in the Puget Sound region with attached greenhouses that seem to do great and have heard nothing except praise for them from the owners. I've been reading this forum for a while and, while I've seen the occasional person object to them, I didn't really ever see why. I didn't find any particular in-depth discussion on this topic, but if you have a thread in mind (or specific keywords to guide my search) I'd love to read more. Even better, if there is a discussion of attached greenhouses in the PNW, that would be the best. I'll keep looking and see if I can find more.
But you were right on the roof shading. I thought I had been careful in calculating my overhangs to maximize exposure/shading at the right times of year, but looks like I was about 11 inches to long. That has now been fixed. Thanks.
And not related to my build since I am not using tires, with the idea off-gassing of tires in earthships that do use them, I think a lot of drama is made out of nothing. The research that gets pulled out to say there is an issue was done on shredded tires used in play areas. I have no doubt that freshly exposed rubber surfaces that are subjected to UV degradation, hot and cold extremes, as well as all the other weather elements, would start to offgas and leach. I think it is an entirely different issue when you take used whole tires and encase them in several inches of clay where they are not exposed to any degradating elements. The New Mexico Environmental department determined that there was no risk of off gassing or chemical leaching in such an environment, and I am inclined to accept that conclusion.
The general advice here is that the system needs something to radiate the heat out quickly to make the system function. When you cover the barrel in cob, the top of the riser becomes the same temperature as the bottom, and you loose the chimney effect, and you end up getting smoke coming back out of the burn chamber. You can put a screen up if you don't like the barrel, or you could make a custom barrel out of nicer metal, maybe with some designs etched in, but you need something that will dissipate the heat the the top of the riser quickly to maintain the rockety-ness of the stove so it will function.
I agree that the older earthship designs had issues that lead to longevity issues, but I think the newer designs have corrected a lot of those issues, and they should be much sturdier structures. I think in any event, they are probably as well build, if not better built than traditional stick built houses. I think a well ventilated strawbale houses with a metal roof, as I am planning on using, are going to be about as long lived as one could possibly get without building out of stone. If I am understanding what you are saying, it sounds like you think strawbale houses have more moisture degradation issues than other houses. That is not the impression I have got, and I don't see anyone making that out to be a major issue. Can you point to any particular issue with moisture being a problem in strawbale houses more than it is in stick built houses?
I am not sure why I would want to reduce the amount of glazing. Bill suggested reducing the glazing surfaces to just one, but not necessarily the amount of glazing. In tandem with your final suggestion, it sounds like you think having the attached greenhouse is problematic... Since the attached greenhouse is kind of fundamental to this design, separating it would seem to destroy most of its functionality. Is there a reason you think this should be done?
The podii foundation info looks interesting and I will look more into that.
I realized as soon as you said it I let my self get too constrained by some initial parameters I had started out with, that I didn't realize I was making so much more work for my self. I've simplified the design significantly. I got rid if the backside roof and the jettied second floor. In doing so, it actually fixed a few other issues I had been struggling with in both of the bathrooms. I got rid of the multi-slope roof in the front in favor of a single slope roof with a vertical front to the greenhouse. It still has two glazing surfaces, but I think this design will be much easier to construct (and prevent water infiltration). Also, I have added in the Rocket Mass Heater, and closets to both the bedrooms to be code compliant.
This page looks at a study that shows that asphalt roofing was actually a fine choice for rainwater harvesting.
As far as cooling the house, consider putting in a cold air pipe.
From the page: "The cool air pipe needs to be buried at least 1 meter, and should be 15-20 meters long. The pipe should be laid at an angle that slopes away from the dwelling to allow for the condensation that develops to drain away from the house. The Outlets of the pipe should be covered with screen to keep animals out."
I've seen these installed in earthships and do great job of supplying 55º-65ºF air even in the hottest of climates.
If this is still Coinbase we are talking about, when you click on a transaction, there should be a To and a From line that should give you the public address of the wallet that sent you money. You can send it back to that address. As far as cashing out, you need to link your bank account to your Coinbase account if you want to do that. The reason you don't see an option to cash out your bitcoin is due to the fact that you are in Germany. Coinbase is a US company and they don't interface with European banks. Try https://www.bitcoin.de instead.
Brent, my guess is your soil is probably mostly fine as is. Chalky soil, or limestone soil as it is more commonly called, might be a little more alkaline than you want. You can get a soil pH kit at most garden store and test yours to see if it is alkaline. If it is, you will want to apply some sulfur to bring it back towards neutral pH. Two feet of soil is more then enough for just about anything you are going to want to grow. But you can never have too much mulch in my opinion. 2-3 inches of composted manure followed by 4-6 inches of mulch will give you great results.
A quick search on Google or Amazon will turn up many results for this. Go with something that is rated well and in your price range. But, if you are just getting seedlings and cuttings started and plan to transfer them outdoors, you can use regular florescent lighting tubes to start them out. The reason you need expensive bulbs for hydroponics is because you need to make sure you have the right light wavelengths during flowering and fruiting. But for just starting plants out, regular off the shelf florescent lights work fine.
With that being said, I always avoid using treated wood when possible because I figure it is better to be save than sorry. Exterior grade paint will provide a non-permeable barrier that should reduce any potential exposure.
I like bitcoin because of the flexibility. I can send finds anywhere in the world instantly (yes, it takes a little while to confirm the transaction). I don't need to mail anyone a check. I don't need to give anyone my credit card number. I don't need any permission from a third party. It took me about 30 seconds to pull up the QR Code for Paul's public address, start my local bitcoin wallet, and send him some money. There is a chicken and egg problem right now in that it will be hard for Paul to find suppliers who will accept bitcoin as payment, so for the time being he can use an intermediary such as Coinbase to convert those funds to USD. But as more an more businesses start to accept bitcoin directly, that will be less of a problem. Right now you can buy gift cards to many places with bitcoin if you go to gyft.com. Or you can buy stuff directly from places like overstock.com.
Paul. you should have some more bits in your wallet to play with now!
I really like the merit badge idea. You get your first level after you complete a certain number of badges. You can make certain ones required for each level as core competency requirements but then just require a certain number of additional ones as electives so each person can customize their certification to their interests.
While this forum does have regional boards you can post to, it is unlikely that you are going to find a lot of local people to get stuff from like this. But if you do, I also highly suggest lettting people know your location since we have people from all over the world on this board. But I am going to guess from the email address you posted, you are in the Seattle area. Check out craigslist if you are looking for manure. There are lots of postings on there for people in the Puget Sound region who have excess manure.