Fuelling the fires…

 

The main greenhouse had a gas fired water heating system that had been condemned. So after much toing and froing and the application of a reciprocating saw it has been pulled out.

boiler boiler-3

Gas is something we just can’t afford to use at this time and we can’t generate enough of our own on site (more details to come) so we hit open the idea of using a rocket stove based water heater.

rocket-mass-heater1

For those that have never heard of them, rocket stoves are essentially hyper efficient and well insulated burn chambers that convert the fuel into useable heat leaving nothing but ash. The whole process is called pyrolysis and occurs in a j shaped tube that allows air to mix freely with the site of combustion. We will be building a kitchen version into the outdoor cooking space.

rocket_stove_details

Originally we were going to use the output to heat water but after reviewing the pluming arrangements we have decided to go with a rocket mass heater system. In this type of design the output heat is run through a large thermal mass which absorbs the heat and releases it back slowly.

rocket-stove-mass-heater

Should be an interesting little project.

 

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#DoncasterIsGreat for Growing in a Small Space…

GGB_May_meeting_poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PermaFuture co-founder John Briggs will be giving a presentation for Growing a Greater Bentley (GGB) on Growing in a Small Space at Bentley Baptist Church at 6:30pm on Tuesday, 7th May. We’ll be following this up with a practical session in the heart of Doncaster at the end of the month, so watch this space for further details.

Click here to download, print and share a PDF of the poster. 🙂

Dibbing about in Donny…

Well,  It’s a new year and a new you. So hello to you !!

After much ado this year that has kept us pretty busy we are officially launching the DUG network in the salutation inn on January the 24th at 7PM

I’m sure your asking what the hell all this is about, so sit down put on your slippers and get comfy because I’m about to tell you !

DUG was created to help folks like yourselves take that first tentative step into the wonderful and exhilarating world of home grown food. Maybe the ever rising costs, especially fresh local produce, brought you to our door. Maybe it’s a concern about industrial practice or just a desire for a simpler better way of life. Whatever the reasons we welcome you with open arms to our friendly fraternity…

DUG is here to fill that gap between allotments and their associations and farmers and their experience. Here you will find like minded people, all with a story, a hint or a tip to help you get started, fight of those bugs and get the best out of your plot no matter how big or small. You don’t need an acre of garden or an allotment to grow loads of fresh high quality ingredients. In fact we think you’ll be surprised just how much you can cram into even a terrace garden with a bit of know-how.

Our vision, our aim here at DUG HQ is to see Doncaster turned into a food lovers paradise, a garden of plenty with little urban farms dotted through out or great borough.

Join us to help make it happen…..

DUG growers’ poster January 2013

MAKER SPACE

 

or how I learned to stop worrying and just love stuff !!

In 2012 we exported a lot of stuff. One direction, rain water into the north sea, British pride and the royals ( the Americans get that last one free to make up for 1776 ).

But the export business started long before that… it started with ideas. And one of those ideas was the maker space. We sent it over to America where they have latched on to it with the same vigour they had with the Beatles. So once it became the done thing to hang around with old guys that knew more than you did, knew it and could give a toss they sent our baby back. Now we have sulky petulant teen of an idea ready to take on the world and the world be damned !! So what is this maker space I hear you cry ??

A maker space is simply a place where a group come together Co-operatively and in collaboration.

Errrr OK that’s not so simple is it…? I’ll try again….

A maker space is a building which house’s all the tools you need to build what ever you want. Fancy building a bookcase ? Maker space. Got a great idea for a product but can’t afford prototype or production cost’s? maker space.

You see not all of us are nicely well off middle class types with google chrome as our task bar. Most of us have an idea or two or just want to simply learn how to do stuff properly, that age old ache to create, to produce to express .. but the cost of the equipment is way out of our league and we may find it a bit hard to justify the cost of a pillar drill or bench lathe to our spouse’s if we just want to play. Especially as the benefits get cut and I wont get a pay rise this year. And forget about adult extension classes. Who has the time ??

Well your local space might have that equipment, if it doesn’t it might have the tools you need to build it. The people that you meet down there will come from a wide background, an untapped resource of unbelievable potential from welders and fabricators to draughtsmen and designer’s. The computer girl that will show you, that if you can use a photocopier you can use a 3D printer. The old time carpenter that can teach you all you need to know about making that presentation box.

You know, the one that wowed the sales team and convinced them that your doohicky is what has been missing all their lives….

A maker space is an eclectic mix of old world wooden hand tools to mega gig computers and star trek replicator’s …

So why am I banging the drum for the maker space. Well my nearest one is access space in Sheffield. It’s main focus is multi media but its also a bit too far to travel if I want to make a bike trailer !!

However a new year a new opportunity. Doncaster is getting it’s own maker space !! . the copley roadproject will soon open it’s doors to you fair and creative citizens so please show support for what could be the best thing since an ironed shirt….

Lets take a chance and become producers not consumers. Lets learn things we didn’t know we wanted to learn. We are willing to pay 20-30 quid for a gym membership why not the same for our local maker space ??

Here’s a few links to get you in the making mood…..

A podcast about maker space’s, it’s woth skipping the housekeeping !

Maker space in ann arbour

And another american based one

Hope to see you at the Copley road project !!

The Fiscal Cliff & the Permaculture Parachute

The world may not have ended on December 21st, 2012, but it looks highly likely that the economic dominance of the US will be very much in its death throws during 2013…

This puts the UK, with its intimate links to both the US and the Euro-zone, in a very precarious position. On hearing about the looming fiscal cliff and the risk of hyperinflation there are some people who will be tempted to build a bunker, dress like an action man and stock up on freeze-dried chicken noodles (the kind of people who give preppers a bad name courtesy of the Discovery Channel). But those of us who enjoy fresh air (and fresh fruit & veg for that matter) like to take a more logical (in actual fact ‘methodological’…) approach.

The word economy comes from the Greek oikonomos (manager of a household) and is closely related to the word ecology (oikos = house + logia = study), but modern attitudes which focus on ‘bottom lines’ and ‘perpetual growth’ can seem far from homely. This is because the economists define wealth and security in terms of access to the market. But despite being elevated to a central position for the last few centuries the market is not the most important factor in the economy… the real driving force of the economy is – and always has been… – the land. As The Land magazine say in their manifesto:

Anyone who has land has access to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave. Ivan Illich spoke of “a society of convivial tools that allows men to achieve purposes with energy fully under their control”. The ultimate convivial tool, the mother of all the others, is the earth.

Don’t get us wrong, markets can play a vital role in the peaceable exchange of skills & resources and in countering creative and cultural stagnation, but when the market is placed above every other aspect of human ecology the effects are devastating… hence the current crisis. The dominant economic and legal systems we are expected to live by have divorced the vast majority of us from both the land in general and the skills to cater for our own central needs – food, shelter, sanitation, etc. – in a convivial and ecologically sensitive way. And as the ongoing economic crisis makes it ever harder for an increasing number of people to secure access to the essentials, the ecological crisis – which is itself a product of a dysfunctional socioeconomic worldview – is making present human ecologies even less stable… a viscous circle spinning at the heart of a perfect storm.

sandy

Spencer Platt/GETTY IMAGES

If this sounds a bit gloomy, it is; there’s little point in denial when it comes to one of the most rapid and monumental changes in the earth’s climate. What’s more there’s not a whole lot of real, decisive action taking place… in fact, thanks to a political system ultimately based on lobbying clout (whoever can pay has the last say), the very opposite is true. On a global level we’re about to witness some of the most dramatic shifts in sovereign power for centuries, but there is little evidence to suggest that Gaia will replace the gun regardless of who’s in the big chair. On a local level even before the economic crisis there were very few local authorities which paid anything more than lip service to building genuinely resilient communities. But we have now reached a point where we are being forced to reconsider both our economic and ecological systems in the light of the overwhelming evidence that continuing along our current path is almost certainly suicidal.

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From Robert Graves and Dider Madoc Jones digital art series Postcards from the Future

Well that’s the doom & gloom done with, now for a glimmer of hope… THERE IS A BETTER WAY!..

Permaculture is a design system which uses naturally occurring ecological patterns and feedback-loops to create highly sustainable, convivial and resilient human habitats. Far from being a pie-in-the-sky utopian dream these are widespread everyday practices which often take advantage of techniques that have been known to humans for millennia (and to mother nature for billions of years). What’s more it is a process which doesn’t rely on any outside help from politicians, bankers or business gurus; so regular people (like you and me) can begin to make a very real difference – both locally and globally – regardless of the inactivity of government and the local authorities. Some might find that they have to bend the rules a little depending on exactly where they live and the socioeconomic circumstances they find themselves in, but absolutely anyone can – and should!.. – begin to practice essential permacuture principles today.

Permaculture is no magic bullet, as you’ll quickly discover it’s all about small steps and a lot of patience. But taken seriously each small step you take will lead you  to a healthier, more fulfilled and resilient (not to mention cheaper!..) way of living.

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Design for Eco-Village Wroclaw

There are plenty of freely available online resources (this is a good place to start), but if you have some spare cash one of the most accessible (not to mention most beautiful) introduction books has to be Graham Burnett‘s “Permaculture, A Beginner’s Guide.

permabeginners1

At the moment it’s on special offer and includes a copy of Graham’s “Top of the Crops“, but even if you miss the offer we recommend ordering Top of the Crops as well anyway… especially if you have kids!

PermaFuture will be hosting an Introduction to Permaculture workshop in Doncaster sometime in the Spring; drop us a line or follow the blog for further details… in the meantime, GET GROWING!

Lentils: An Investment Opportunity!

Only when the last tree has died

and the last river been poisoned

and the last fish been caught

will we realise we cannot eat money. 

~Cree Indian Proverb

After years of lobbying by powerful bankers and hedge fund managers, the strict (and rather sensible…) regulations surrounding speculation on food were relaxed allowing financial companies to make huge unearned profits (i.e. they didn’t actually do anything – such as till the soil or reap the harvest – to deserve a cut!) by gambling on food prices. This has drastically pushed up prices for essentials like wheat and corn, which has added greatly to everybody’s cost of living and is leading to worldwide increases in hunger, poverty and civil unrest.

Although speculation by it’s very nature does mean that prices do actually rise and fall, these fluctuations are rarely passed on to the end user (a situation we see regularly with regard to oil and gas), which means consumers have faced near constant price increases for food at the tills (not to mention a near constant reduction in the size of processed food products like chocolate). But there is a way to fight back – by fighting fire with fire and investing in food!

Don’t worry, we’re not about to suggest that you join the bankers in their addict-like quest for more, more, more! Not when you can invest in food and stick it to the banks at the same time…

The 5th of Jack Spirko‘s 12 Planks of Survival is:

Food stored is an exceptional investment. You simply can’t lose by storing additional food that you use on a regular basis.

In other words if you buy and store food you get a much higher rate of return than if you simply ‘store’ your wealth as money in the bank – and if things get really bad any Cree worth their salt will tell you that beans and lentils are a lot more digestible than cash. This is not to say that you should empty your bank account and build a cellar (not yet anyway 😉 ), but you should at least start thinking of ‘wealth’ in terms way beyond mere bank balance. At a time when traditional bank ‘savers’ are being hit hard it makes a lot of sense to diversify… things like land, food, building/manufacturing materials and gold are all sensible options (the SAS technique of carrying gold sovereigns hidden about your person to help buy food, shelter and safe conduct behind enemy lines is good prepper practice – as long as you know how to handle yourself in a mugging situation 😉 ).

Don’t worry if you’re not a saver, or even if you’re totally skint (I lost everything I had during the 2008 crash and have virtually no disposable income), you can still invest in food. If you grow your own (highly recommended) then you can experiment with different techniques for preserving the surplus, but even if you have no garden or allotment Jack Spirko shows that you can store more food than you think simply by using your regular food budget:

The key with storing food is you don’t run out and just buy 50 cases of military style rations and put them away for a decade in a basement.  Instead modern survival philosophy revolves around the mantra of “eat what you store and store what you eat”.  When you follow that concept you soon realize that storing food for the most part doesn’t cost a dime more then you will spend anyway.

A good approach is to join – or start – some form of buying group. Simply get a bunch of like-minded people together so you can collectively place bulk orders with wholesale suppliers. We’re currently involved with setting up a bulk-buying group in our area – so if you live in or near Doncaster, South Yorkshire then feel free to get in touch. We will place quarterly orders with the Yorkshire based workers’ cooperative, Suma, for foodstuffs which are easily stored (bulk buying is also a good way of buying other household goods like soaps and detergents). The order will be split up as requested between each member, but some items will be placed into our special rainy-day cache to be stored both as an investment and as good survival practice… more on that in a future post 😉

Calling all writers, preppers, artists, permaculturalists, survivalists and appropriate techies!

The PermaFuture crew are currently working on an exciting new project and we’d like YOU to get involved…

OTF (Own Two Feet) Magazine will be a completely DIY/grassroots publication created using solely upcycled ‘end-of-use’ (i.e. scrap) equipment and Free Open Source Software (FOSS) applications. As with all PermaFuture projects we want to show that both the resources and the skills needed to create something new and exciting already exist within each and every one of our communities; all that really needs to change is our attitudes towards creativity, technology and blind consumption.

OTF will be a magazine about resilience, self-reliance and self-sustainability. As with the larger PermaFuture project, it will draw on the principles of Permaculture, Bushcraft, Martial Arts and Appropriate Technology in order to encourage the development of healthier, happier, more creative and thriftier individuals, families and communities. The emphasis will be very much on the practical, with each issue offering tips and detailed plans which can help people meet everyday needs, get fit, save money and/or become less dependent. We also intend to include philosophical, inspirational and lifestyle stories along with artworks, photographs, cartoons and letters.

As we’ve already mentioned this is a grassroots project which currently has zero budget, so we can’t offer payment or prizes. But we do believe that this is an exiting opportunity for writers, artists, cartoonists, permaculturalists, survivalists, appropriate technologists, preppers and planners to get involved with a brand new magazine… and who knows, if things go well we might even be able to pay people one day 😉

If you’d like to submit something for the first issue of OTF – or if you’d like to subscribe or make a donation to help get us started (offers of finance and/or equipment will be warmly welcomed!)  – then email us via editorial[at]permafuture[dot]org or leave a comment below.

The deadline for the 1st issue is November 18th, 2011.

Advertising inquiries to advertising[at]permafuture[dot]org

Wikipedia Definition of Permaculture…..

Save’s us having to write it up, here you go…

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in naturalecologies.

Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another. Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.

For more info just follow the link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture