This forum thread is for use by the participants in the Rowe weekend seminar that took place on March 23-25, 2012. Please use it for:
Once the new site has launched, a new Group will be created replacing this thread.
It was an absolute pleasure to spend the weekend with all of you. Chris, Becca and I hope to see you here on the site often!
First I want to thank everyone for providing a place (at Rowe, as well as this forum) where we can speak candidly about our hopes and fears. The energy I've gleaned from this group has been incredible. I attended this seminar where I thought I was going to learn about how to live with less, and soon realized that this is making me wealthier then I ever imagined! I now have a rich community of people that I can share this journey with; I'm no longer alone with my ruminations. So, thank you!
Now, the good news.... Today I received my "Big Berkey" filter system (with Doulton ATC candles) from St. Paul Mercantile. Before I've even used it, I feel more in control of my life, it's incredible. Now, if something goes wrong with my water supply, I have a "Plan B", something real that I can use to help myself and my family.
So, I just wanted to take a minute to celebrate my first step and encourage others to do the same. I've just started the marathon, many more miles and steps to take, enjoying the journey as I go.
Welcome to CM.com and congrats on knocking off the hardest step in your effort - the first one. We weren't at Rowe, but were at the Lowesville seminar a few years back. Good luck on the journey....have fun.
It was great meeting everyone last weekend, I definitely feel a lot more confident about things now having got to meet with so many like-minded people.
One of the most immediate steps I was able to take, having just learned about it at the workshop, was participating in a community-shared agriculture (CSA) program. I pay a local farm about $400 at the beginning of the season, then every week from May-October I get a share of their harvest, roughly equal to a large grocery bag full of vegetables. Working out to about $20 a week, this saves me money over what I would pay at the grocery store, and I can be confident knowing that the farm is only 5 miles down the road.
I highly recommend checking out CSA's if you haven't already, as it's an easy first step to take in sourcing your food locally. www.localharvest.org/ is the site I used to find one.
Funny you should mention that site. I found it this weekend and located several nice farmer's markets close to home and one farmer that sells hard red wheat that I can put into bags and buckets.
I also saw a house down the road from me listed as a farm that raises llamas, ostriches and goats. I see the animals driving to work but did not realize that they sold breeding stock and fibers for spinning.
Sorry I was not able to attend the conference but I had too much to do splitting up four trees that were recently cut down and trying to get the gardens ready. I would have liked to meet some of the New England members.
Adam, Becca and I are always gratified to hear that people find the weekend seminar to be of great help, and that it exceeds expectations. We do our best to create, and then learn from, and then re-create the weekend so that it evolves over time.
Music to my ears is that people feel more confident and are taking actions. Those are two great outcomes for the weekend.
For anybody that is interested, there is just one more weekend seminar this year on the books and that is at Kripalu over the June 29-July 1 weekend. If you can make it, our feedback provides excellent assurance that you will find it to be money and time very well spent.
Perhaps anecdotally, but the just retired director of Rowe, Doug Wilson, who has seen more than his share of seminars over the past three decades, has made it a point to attend ours not just once in full, not twice, but 5 times (missing only this sixth one due to a wake that he had to attend). He's told us it is one of the very best he's seen.
A particular strength of the weekend is aligning partners who may be singing from different sheets of music in their relationship when it comes to preparation.
At any rate, I had an especially good time at this last weekend and the crowd was really engaged. We were too, and I am very glad for the experience and memories.
For those just learning about CSAs, also realize there are CSAs that specialize in local, humanely and sustainably-raised (non-GMO, antibiotic-free, grass-fed, free-range, etc) meats.
I just recently became a customer. As with garden-oriented CSAs, you subscribe and receive a box with choice cuts of freshly-butchered meats from a variety of animals (beef, pork, lamb, chicken). Much more convenient than store-shopping, much tastier, and you enjoy the peace of mind knowing you're eating as healthily as a carnivore can (no pink slime!)
And Ed & Brian: congrats on your progress - you're both off to a great start!!
I have been busy since returning.
Been Cutting wood and splitting it and making wood holders and stacking it.
Contracted with Master Mason to design a Masonary Heater (much more efficient than wood stoves or fireplaces for heating a home).
Started on my aquaponics system today (Sunday April 22 2012) by building a modified potting bench that is shorter ( to house the 55 gallon fish tank in shade under the deck boards that will support the grow beds which is heavy with gravel, expanded clay and the water from the fish tank)
The 6 foot tall back verticals will either support a lattice for the produce of the grow beds or additional vertical Aquaponics systems.
The details are as follows:
https://www.kregtool.com/images/icons/potting_bench.pdf (You can email me and I will scan the plans or send you the pdf if you have problems)
A Front Legs 24" x 2 (reduced from 34")
B Back Legs 6' x 2 (Lengthened from 47 3/4")
C Leg Rails 24" x 2 (Lengthened from 17")
D Long Rails 47 3/4" x 4 (Lengthed from 33")
E Supports 28" x 3 (Lengthened from 24")
G Bench Boards (Deck Boards cut in half)
2 2x4's cut into 6' plus 2' (24")
2 2x4's cut into 4 24" pieces
2 2x4's cut in half
1 2x4 cut into 3 28" pieces with a little waste at the end
3 Deck Boards cut in half.
One idea I have is to make a WindowFarm.org vertical garden that uses 2 Litre Soda bottles for growing vegatables in your window or in my case outdoors.
Here is one variation from a Window Farm Community member in Germany.
The Urban Survival Blogger (http://urbangreensurvival.blogspot.com/) has a similar Aquaponic approach.
I am also intrigued by the
Been also working on other resiliency stuff but that is for another post.
PS Dogs, I wish I knew who you were when we were at Rowe to put a face on the man behind the many comments here and on other sites, especially when it came to the discussions on Fukishima. I really appreciate your insights and sharing your thoughts.
Several of my friends have cautioned me about completely covering my wood piles with tarps. They said the it would trap moisture. I now only put plastic on the top like a little roof and leave the sides open. I saw your picture and figured I would mention it. Just a thought.
My friend has a web site dedicated to hydroponics. You may want to look at it. The link is http://www.hydroponics-at-home.com/index.html.
If I knew you were coming all the way up to New England for the Rowe seminar it might have tipped me over the edge into going. I was probably still to booked up to make it, but I would have liked the opportunity to meet you in person.
Hello Simon -
Thanks for the kind words.....we were at the Lowesville seminar, but not Rowe (unfortunately). The great thing about this site is there are a lot of people who are well informed in a lot of topics - sharing that knowledge and helping clear things up is a strength here that most sites like CM.com don't have.
Your SFG looks great - ours is booming, we started picking artichokes two weeks ago and they are coming in hand over fist. If you listen carefully, you can hear the rest growing.
Is that your aquaponics set up with the recycled bottles? Looking forward to your updated resiliency posts.
Aquaponics setup and Square Foot 20' x 3' Raised Bed Vegatable Garden
Unfortunately, it has been cold in Westchester County, NY and we only see a little growth in the SFG. The celery that survived outside all winter is growing slowly. The pea plants are growing and I will put up the trellis mesh for them or move them to the back row where they can attach to the deer mesh. The tomato plants that I bought from Home Depot are doing ok, but most of the seeds started indoors have not thrived and some have not survived the transplant. I think it is due to the cold. I thought the black weed-inhibiting gardeners cloth would help to warm the soil underneath, but only time will tell.
Last weekend I set up the Aquaponics area with a rubber base, placed the "fish tank" below it with a battery/invertor setup secured to the bench. I installed the 100 watt solar panel to the bench to see if I can become off-grid (as the electrician has not yet come to run a power line from the house to this area in my backyard.
Today, I hooked up the solar panel with the solar-battery-charger unit to the battery backup and invertor unit which will hopefully run the water pump and air pump. I have started the system cycling. Will be testing it and the duration of power from solar charged battery over the weekend. Still looking for 12 volt submersible water pump and a 12 volt air pump so I don't have to lose too much inverting 12 volts up to 110 volts to run current aquarium pumps. I will also be experimenting with using the air generated by the air pump and bubbler stone in the fish tank to do double duty and create a water-air-lift system for the vertical grow tubes. (See WindowFarm.org for info on the air lift system designs.)
I have to add Hydroton to make the grow beds deeper and adjust the siphons to work properly at the new height. I am also setting up an additional grow bed (Thinking of trying the floating raft design which yeilded lettuce every four weeks last year). I have also bought 4" PVC pipe to make at least two vertical columns. I am not sure if I will use hydroton in them, which will require cutting horizontal slots and heating the PVC (which must be done outdoors with caution due to the toxic Poly Vinyl Chloride that is released on heating) to make openings for the plants. I am still trying to find media similar to the ZipGrow towers and just cut a 1/2" slot up the center and put the seedlings in every 6" or so as you pull the two halves of the media up the column.
A third growing component that I am setting up will be mini-grow beds that use inverted 2-litre soda bottles (some with hydroton media and some with just the edd and drain with mini-pots and dangling roots)
I am trying to see which variations of aquaponics works best in my hands.
I also made contact with a grower of Tilapia fish and am trying to decide on whether to start with a breeding setup (one male and 4 females) or just some fingerlings. I don't know what I will do with the fish when the fall comes as my town has restrictions on greenhouses and it will be expensive to maintain outdoor fish tank at 80 - 82 degrees. I think my wife would shoot me if I bring it indoors, even if it is in the basement. Also tilapia are prolific breeders, which is great for resiliency and a source of food, if needed, but they will need bigger tanks if I am successful in raising them.
Also thanks for the heads up on not tightly covering the wood pile. My tarp is actually set with the tie-down away from the base of the pile to allow plenty of air to circulate and dry the wood.
Have gotten first plans for solar PV with generator back up.
Also have appointment this weekend for the Masonary Heater designer to take measurements and start those designs to we can reduce the need for 1300 gallons of heating oil to a reasonable number.
I am hoping more of the Rowe 2012 attendees will contribute to the forum. It was great sharing in person and making plans, but I am hoping I am not the only one implementing resiliency. Let's hear from the rest of you that were there in 2012 (or in 2011 which I also attended.)
Simon - did you know that there is s Square Foot Gardening thread, an Agriculture/permaculture thread, an Aquaponics thread, and even one on Heating with Wood?
Welcome and I hope you enjoy and add to all the forums.
Many of those forums have had no new posts in 2012. The purpose of this forum is to support the attendees at Chris and Becca's Rowe Retreat. I attended it the last two years. My purpose is to share what I am doing, in the hope that others who were there will take ACTION on their resilience plans.
Here is how she looked on May 14th
Took off the Black Gardeners ground cloth as the plants were getting too hot and the water was not penetrating as it should.
Two days later on May 17th
And the Aquaponics is cycling well.
I have since switched over to direct faucet valves through the back wall to control the relative volume of nutrient water from the tank below. Had some problems with leaks and lost of water so made some revisions. Also made a vertical grow tower using 5 foot long 4" PVC with a half inch slot down the middle and gutter protection sponge material converted to grow media by doubling it over and insert the seedlings as the media is dragged into the pipe. I will have photos next time (when I can get home before dark) but a quick look this morning and the strawberry plants have fruit and the lettuce has grown and the other trial seedlings seem to have made it.
We have had two weeks of daily rain with tempatures ranging both 10 degrees below average and some 10 degrees above with several days of sun in the AM and early PM with thunderstorms in the evening.. Some of the things started from seed have taken and some have not. Supplemented with purchasing seedlings from several nurseries in the area to see what is thriving in their hands.
Above are two varieties of Tomatoes. with string beans on the back Deer Mesh as well as the right side. The large two plants are egg[lants with red and green peppers, lettuce and onions doing well. The marigolds are an old farmers trick to attract bees and repell many insect pests.
Another variety of Tomato, with cukes, cabbage, peppers and raddishes started from seed right in the garden soil.
More Tomatoes, Peppers, Romaine Lettuce and marigolds for color and insect control.
Tomatoes, cuks with cabbage doing very well alternating in that row with broccoli that shot up and immediately went to flower after the head was only a inch or so wide., The basil and dill are beginning to grow, after losing a bunch of basil to near frost temps two weeks ago.
More tomatoes and cukes with flat and curly parsley.
The latest addition are two vertical grow towers. made by slotting 4" PVC and using the spun PET fiber from gutter leaf guards (from Home Depot that one may put in your gutters to allow water in and deflect the leaves.) I used them folded in half and pulled 6" at a time using a right angle corner bracket and inserting the seedling at each 6" interval. The longer one on the right is all strawberries from ten roots and stems packaged in a 16 ounce drink cup that my daughter mail ordered. On the left are basel, tomato seedlings we started from seed, strawberry and cukes. Will have to see how they do. Started the small one on Weds and the big one yesterday. Water is pumped up from the fish tank to the top and collected at the bottom with 2" PVC draining back to the fish tank.
Below are the three grow beds with hydroton on the top.
I added a bunch of left over seedlings after the photos and hope to give a progress report as the weeks go on.
I would love to hear from the other Rowe 2012 participants.
A resource for planning for & reacting to the unexpected (storms, natural disasters and other shocks)
Members to support one another in investing endeavors
Preparing those people on Ise Lodge (Kettering) Northants, interested in the future post fossil fuel.
A meeting place for all who are interested in building or sharing a resilient lifestyle up here in the North.
A group to form alliances for survival