Add this to your Google Calendar:
A Google Calendar of all of the Farmers Markets in and around San Francisco- Pretty neat!
Right now I’m adding all the ones I actually go to to my own calendar… Menlo Park. Palo Alto. Los Altos. East Palo Alto. …and counting 😉
It all starts with changing where and how you get your food. Go someplace else or just bring a different approach!
- Grow Your Own.
- Buy In Bulk.
- Get it for free.
Full details after the jump.
I started thinking about founding an eco-village about a year ago, and since then I’ve been researching various sustainable technologies and looking for land and partners. In the meantime I’ve found/built a network of interested people, and may have just found some potential land in New Mexico!
The goal is to create a place from the ground up, building shelter with straw bales, growing almost all of our own food. No septic tanks, no sewer systems, no paved roads. The ideal situation looks something like the garden of eden, lush edible foliage and abundant fruit trees. By fully embracing natural methods we can decrease the cost of living significantly by greatly reducing the cost of housing and food. To foster entrepreneurship and build a new community based on these fundamental principles of sustainability. And to show off and share our efforts and methods with the world through YouTube, media coverage, partnerships, and social networks.
Recently I left my job to focus my time on this project…
What does it look like?
When you first get to our eco-village, you find a large mud-covered building called the Better Earth Institute. This is a community center where we research sustainable technologies and hold community meetings and events. Next to the Institute there is a dormitory for interns and visitors. We’ve started building a neighborhood of houses across the courtyard.. All around there are young fruit trees growing vigorously. Patches of edible greens are everywhere around your feet. Berry bushes can be seen lining the pathways. Beyond the houses you can see a soccer field, and a series of greenhouses constructed out of wood and metal and plastic sheeting. You will also find an outdoor event center for summer music concerts, and film screenings. Not to mention, lots of lovely, happy, healthy people everywhere!
Here are some of the sustainable technologies I’m excited about:
This is term (coming from “Permanent” + “Agriculture”), is a general farming/lifestyle principle that embraces natural systems, paying attention to combinations of plants to design a system that minimizes the need for manual labor like weeding, and at it’s best, creates an environment that is self-maintaining and provides perpetual abundance (for example, a combination corn field that replants itself every year). I’ve been studying this for a few years now, and I’m very excited to start putting it into practice.
- Composting toilets
Check out the book: Humanure. Our human waste makes a fantastic fertilizer, and composting toilets are a sanitary and highly efficient way of making the most of what would otherwise be polluting waste.
- Rainwater harvesting
Rooftops make excellent rainwater harvesting. Permaculture gardening techniques can also be used to absorb as much of the rain into our soil as possible, instead of running away into a stream.
- Solar water heating
For showers, hand washing, etc!
- Graywater treatment / recycling
Drainage from showers, kitchen/bathroom sinks will be collected into a series of living water treatment tanks that house fish, beneficial bacteria and other micro-organisms that process and filter the water.
- Organic Hydroponics
Hydroponics can be used to simplify food production.
- Year-round greenhouses
By growing certain foods indoors, we can provide for ourselves year round. Greenhouses will be heated in the winter with active indoor compost piles and large water tanks that retain heat with thermal mass.
How are we going to pay for it all? Well, we have an initial committed group of about 12 people and together have some amount of savings to get started. We’re looking for a grant to help us build the initial Better Earth Institute center, and will be also accepting donations for that cause. Beyond that, membership in the eco-village will require some combination of labor and capital, following the model of Habitat for Humanity that requires home recipients to invest 300-500 hours of labor in the construction of their home, providing a foundation for strong community relationships in the process.
I’m now putting together a 501c3 non-profit educational organization called Better Earth Institute to provide the legal framework for this enterprise, with the stated mission of:
Researching and sharing methods to reduce the environmental and monetary cost of living by fully embracing and augmenting natural systems and embodying the spirit of entrepreneurship.
If you’re interested in getting involved, please donate and/or come join us!
Questions? contact me, or leave a comment below.
I’ve been reading this really exciting book called Alcohol Can Be A Gas, and it argues that the technology for a sustainable fuel economy is already here, and we can start driving on carbon-sequestering biofuels with our same cars, already today! What’s better news? Because the nautral economics of alcohol fuel produxtion, rhe market will davor small to medium size farms, supporting family farms and young organic entrepreneurs. Not only is it going to instantly turn driving into an environment-healing activity, it’s also already cheaper! (At the pump, if you can find it where you live).
Now, alcohol fuel, or Ethanol, is a historically controversial issue- the current popular methods of production are literally insane from a sustainability standpoint, only making sense because of the skewed economics of grain subsidies causing resource-intensive and destructive farming methods to dominate our fields. I am in full agreement that we should not be harvesting corn with diesel-powered tractors and petrochemically fertilized soil. It’s stunningly inefficient environmentally. However, taking advantage of the best permaculture techniques, we can build fuel farms capable of sequestering up to 13 times the amount of carbon than the amount that is released in the production and consumption of the fuel. Literally reversing global warming with your choice at the pump. This fuel can be produced locally and organically. We just need to demand it, and it will come…
Farmers can make a lot of money from growing and/or producing alcohol fuel. The integrated production methods described in the book include many different integrated farm business models ranging from raising livestock to fish to selling earthworms or animal feed or premium vegetables or compost.
Update: I noticed my engine kind of hesitating when idling. This was when gasoline/alcohol ratio was approximately 55/45 ratio. I’m still looking for a garage that can help me install the kit, also replace the fuel filter on my 2001 Acura CL-S. I could possibly do it myself, but the fuel filter on this car is located in the gas tank, so I need to drop the tank to replace it =… That sounds pretty messy, and it would probably be a lot easier on hydraulic jacks haha. I’m still looking for a garage that can help me with the installation. Please contact/email me if you know someone who could help with this flex fuel conversion!
Just wanted to announce here that I’ve recently left Google, and planning to do some more blogging. Here, and elsewhere. From now on, I get to choose which problems to work on. Global warming. Social disconnectedness. Collaborative consumption. Collective intelligence… Excited? Me too! 😉
Okay I need to start blogging this somewhere. So it’s a sunny Saturday morning here in Menlo Park. It’s wonderful but I’m feeling lazy because I’m still recovering from the work week: I biked to work two days, played two soccer games, sustained some minor injuries, then didn’t eat enough, or didn’t drink enough water, and did not get enough sleep. Today I’ve had about 5 bananas for breakfast, and I’m about to go for a short (~3 mile) run in a bit, and then have a ton of orange juice (30 oranges) for lunch. And then go for a longer run before it gets dark. And then I’ll eat like 15 bananas. And then maybe a simple low-fat raw vegan salad of some sort after that.
So there’s a chef in one of the cafes at Google who makes some relatively fancy raw dishes each night. Check out tonight’s menu:
More after the jump.
Just got back from Phoenix area, Arizona… where my nephew just graduated from High School. Behind their house, I ran up this hill, and took some pictures: