Apr 21, 2012

SISA 2012 - John Ikerd Keynote Address - The Future of Farming - YouTube

Published on Apr 15, 2012 by daltopol

John Ikerd's keynote address at the 2012 Student Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference entitled "The Future of Farming". The actual address begins at minute 7.

A wise open minded 73 year old. He places his faith in the future in the young.  A great presentation... Monte

Domestic Uses for Wood Ash Permaculture Research Institute

by Gabriela Vazquez April 21, 2012

Wood ash can be obtained by sieving the remains of burnt, non-treated wood. The composition and amount of the ash will depend on the type of combustion (higher temperatures will lead to fewer ash residues). Normally, remaining ash will represent 0.43 — 1.82% of the initial wood weight.

Although poor in nitrogen, wood ash is a source of calcium carbonate (30-40%) and potash (10%), so they have long been used in agricultural soil and composting as a liming and deacidifying agent.

But wood ash has a number of other possible uses at home. Some of them are:

Wood insect repellent: Mix ash with water in a jar, and let it sit for a week. After that, apply it to raw wood to act as an insect repellent. You could also combine it with an oil-based mix of insecticide plants such as spicy paprika, chili or thyme.

Polish, abrasive cleaner: Dry ash can be used to remove embedded dirt, for instance the glass inside a stove’s door, or a frying pan. After preparing wood ash lye water (see below) the solid humid residues make a perfect polishing agent. If careful sieving was done before preparing the lye water, you won’t need to fear damaging or scratching metal surfaces. As you start to clean you will think you’re only making everything dirtier, but you’ll get surprising results after rinsing the ash off.

Maybe not that much…

Wood ash lye water: Although this is softer than normal lye water, protective gloves and goggles could be useful. Pour the ashes through a sieve to remove charcoal. Alternatively, we could let the ash sink in water and remove the charcoal with a strainer. The whiter the ashes, the better detergent we will get. The harder the initial wood, the stronger the final lye water. Mix ashes with 4 or 5 parts of hot water (or in sunny weather, simply let them sit in a metal bucket outside for a few days. This is what my Grandma did.) Stir it for a few minutes and cover the bucket with a cloth or a lid for one or two days. Make sure you stir again at least once during this time. After that the ashes will be at the bottom of the bucket, and the lye water will remain on top. Pour this soapy solution into a different container (be careful enough to label it properly!). The ashes can be used to polish metals, as indicated above.

If you want to do this more than a few times, you might want to see what these guys did:

Ash can be used with new water for another cycle, until they yield no more “soapy water”. Then they can be safely composted (although they will still raise the pH). Lye water should not be applied to plants, since it will burn them.

Lye water or potash water can be used to wash vegetables, cooking utensils, glass…. Some people use it as a body and hair cleaner, and even as an ingredient in toothpaste. It is also used for washing clothes and removing chemicals from commercial natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo and hemp (notice that tinctures responsible for the colour are chemicals too).

To be used as a liquid detergent, lye water can be diluted in a proportion of one cup of potash lye to four litres of hot water. High concentrations will make a stronger, more aggressive detergent. Dilutions will have washing power as long as the solution keeps feeling “soapy”.

To wash natural fibres, they can be placed in a cooking pot and covered with potash water. Then water is heated to boiling temperature and maintained for 2-3 minutes, while continuously stirring. After that time we remove the material and rinse it with cold water.

For natural, less aggressive ways to wash our fibres, other methods can come handy, for instance the boiled roots of the wild (invasive!) plant Saponaria officinalis (soapwort) are still used by museum conservators to wash delicate cloths.

http://www.nutribiota.net/blog/index.php/recursos/lejia_ceniza (Spanish)
http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html#preparing-cotton (English)
http://www.sindinero.org/blog/archives/775 (Spanish)

Apr 20, 2012

U.S. Renewable Energy on Google Maps - maps.nrel.gov

The Solar Power Prospector

The Prospector is a mapping tool developed for the Solar Power industry. This tool is designed to help developers site large-scale solar plants by providing easy access to solar resource datasets and other data relevant to utility-scale solar power projects.

Find alternative fueling stations, discover where alternative fuel vehicles are concentrated, and explore alternative fuel production facilities on an interactive map.

The In My Backyard (IMBY) tool estimates the electricity you can produce with a solar photovoltaic (PV) array or wind turbine at your home or business.

RE Atlas

The Renewable Energy Atlas is an interactive mapping tool to allow users to explore base level renewable energy resource datasets. The intention is to provide a broad overview of available data and provide appropriate links to allow users to explore the data in greater detail.

The Geothermal Prospector (beta)

The Geothermal Prospector is a mapping tool developed for the Geothermal Power industry. This tool is designed to help developers site large-scale geothermal plants by providing easy access to geothermal resource datasets and other data relevant to utility-scale geothermal power projects.


PVDAQ is a comprehensive mapping tool to help industry and government planners study solar array efficiency.

PVWatts Viewer
The PVWatts Viewer application is an interactive map-based interface that provides easy and efficient access to the PVWatts™ Calculator. The PVWatts™ Calculator allows users to determine the energy production and cost savings of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems both in the United States and at select international sites.

HyDRA (Hydrogen Demand and Resource Analysis) allows users to view, download, and analyze hydrogen data spatially and dynamically. HyDRA contains hydrogen demand, resource, infrastructure, cost, production, and distribution data.

FleetAtlas is an interactive tool developed for Fleet managers to Locate, Analyze, and Manage fleet information geographically.

Currently, IE users will not be able to access the data. We apologize for the inconvenience, but ask that visitors use Firefox 3, Chrome or Safari to access the advanced features. Thank you.

BioFuels Atlas
BioFuels Atlas is an interactive map for comparing biomass feedstocks and biofuels by location. This tool helps users select from and apply biomass data layers to a map as well as query and download biofuels and feedstock data. The state zoom function summarizes state energy use and infrastructure for traditional and bioenergy power, fuels, and resources. The tool also calculates the biofuels potential for a given area.

BioPower Atlas

BioPower is an interactive map for comparing biomass feedstocks and biopower by location. This tool helps users select from and apply biomass data layers to a map as well as query and download biopower and feedstock data. The analysis function offers common conversion factors that allow users to determine the potential biopower production for a selected feedstock in a specific area.

MapSearch (beta)
Search for the latest up-to-date maps created by the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team. Please use the search box and the filters on the left and right of the screen to limit results.

Apr 19, 2012

The barter economy — coming soon to a backyard near you | Grist

By Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Photo by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan.

My garden is overflowing with heirloom tomatoes! I can’t keep up with the egg drops from my Leghorns! I don’t have enough room in my fridge for all this kefir starter! First world problems, yes, but problems faced by many a home-grower or -maker nonetheless.

If only there were an elegant solution, one that didn’t involve choking down yet another eight-egg omelet or aggressively foisting that 20-pound bag of jalapenos on your coworkers … One that got you a little something in return, even …

My friends, there is—at least here in Seattle. And last Sunday, it had me vigorously considering the trade-in value of a bag of homemade beef jerky while a banjo player plucked away in the background.

I was at my first backyard bartering session, an idea so brilliant in its simplicity that I’m pissed I didn’t think of it. A group of local gardeners here organized Backyard Barter last year, an online clearinghouse for swapping homemade and homegrown goods. Even better, they hold an in-person bartering meet each month. Bring us your kale, your jam, your homebrewed beer, they say, and trade for equally tantalizing offerings from your fellow producers. “The only rule is no cash,” program coordinator Kellie Stickney told me before last week’s meet.

Obviously, I had to get a piece of this. Only problem: I’m not what you’d call rich in excess produce. I don’t have a real garden, and my windowsill plants would yield just a pinch or two of fresh herbs at a time. I’d gobbled all of last year’s jam long ago, and hand-harvested razor clams don’t exactly keep.

Backyard Barter. (Photo by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan.)

But I’m not without my talents. After a little scrounging, I headed off to the Backyard Barter loaded with enough goodies to at least earn me a spot at the trading table — and oh, what a table it was.

We had apple cider and beef broth, kombucha and kettle corn. Preserved lemons, salsa, sourdough starter, Greek yogurt, and cream puffs. I eyed the bottles of homebrew hungrily and sniffed bars of DIY soap. A neighbor on one side offered mini fruit pies from a cooler, while the other set up samples of his dried zucchini chips and steam-extracted grape juice. Somebody had even brought a live chicken, clucking provocatively in her portable chicken wagon. After we’d all had a chance to get good and worked up, Kellie Stickney declared the barter officially on. Time to see what magic I could spin.

Trade No. 1: One bag of homemade beef jerky = One jar of amaretto-soaked pears

I made a beeline for the woman displaying various fruit-plus-liquor concoctions. “You can just eat it right from the jar,” she told me when I picked up the pears. “But it’s also great on ice cream.” Sold! I had to give up my most prized item for it: a bag of my boyfriend’s signature spicy beef jerky. Worth it.

Trade No. 2: Six empty bottles of Deschutes Black Butte Porter = One bottle of mead

This was my ace in the hole, as Kellie had tipped me off that a regular attendee would swap his homemade booze for empties six times over. I sidled up to homebrewer Sean Murphy at his buzzing table and offered the bottles. Turns out I was only half right—the going rate for mead (made from farmers market honey, natch) was actually 12 bottles. Still, Murphy made the trade “just this once.” Ka-ching!

Trade No. 3: One loaf garlic rosemary beer bread = Two bars of soap

Next, I chatted up a friendly woman with a basketful of lip balm, soap, and kefir starter. How about a few bars in exchange for my lovingly baked beer bread (rosemary grown by yours truly)? “Sure, we can do one,” she said. Just one? For my deliciously dense loaf? “Okay, two,” she said. Clearly, this flinty-eyed woman was not to be trifled with.

Trade No. 4: One bottle of worm tea fertilizer = Oregano and parsley seedlings

This one doesn’t really count, as the plant table run by a local nonprofit was simply giving away their sprouts. Generous, yes, but so unsporting! I insisted on trading a bottle of worm tea, which, for the uninitiated, is made of the nutrient-rich drippings from my worm bin. “Worm tea” doesn’t really do the stuff justice, which is why I like to call it Thunder Sauce.

Trade No. 5: FAIL

Emboldened by my trades thus far, I approached a young dad offering eggs from his backyard chickens. I was down to a lone bottle of worm—ahem, Thunder Sauce—but I made a strong case for its worth. Even though “we have a ton of eggs” and “I’m trying to get rid of them,” he was unconvinced. “I’ll think about it,” he said, which is of course the universal code for “Get lost.”

Trade No. 6: One bottle of worm tea = 12 oz. of dried pears

Greenie Pig's final winnings. (Photo by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan.)

Luckily, my last trade was a big one. I’d been eyeing the wares of my trading neighbor, Hal Meng, all afternoon: We’re talking rhubarb, salsa, beet powder, dried plums, and grape juice made from his own grapes. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in this fertilizer?” I asked him. “Yeah, sure—what would you like?” he replied affably. Scarcely believing my luck, I picked up a big, vacuum-packed bag of pears. He nodded. Yes! I am the barter queen!

I came away from the session satisfied with my winnings and raring to go for next time. Now that I’ve seen what gets snapped up (kimchi, homebrew, jerky, and yogurt were big-ticket items) and what makes for a harder sell (uh, livestock), I can better position myself for maximum yield. And with my newfound knowledge of strategy, I’m ready to crush. I’m already practicing my best “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” shrug to use after particularly shrewd deals.

If you don’t have a bartering session in your hometown, start one immediately. And remember these helpful insider tips: Offer something that’s cheap and easy for you to make, but valuable to others (extra points if what you’re packing is one-of-a-kind). Don’t be afraid to exploit the three-way trade. And never—never—forget the value of a good loaf of garlic rosemary beer bread.

Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan is Grist’s “Greenie Pig” — weathering all manner of inconvenience and insult in the name of forging a more eco-friendly life. She is a freelance writer and former editor at Backpacker magazine. Her writing has also appeared in 5280 (Denver’s city magazine), Women’s Adventure, and Spry.

Apr 18, 2012

The Woodrow String Instrument Company Presented by Woodcraft - YouTube

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by woodcraftmarketing

During the Wood Expo in Boston we met Julia Rooks representing The Woodrow String Instrument Company out of North Carolina. These Appalachian instruments are created by Dan & Aaron Williams with different types of woods that produce different sounds. Find the full story on http://blog.woodcraft.com/2012/04/the-woodrow-handcrafted-appalachian-instruments/ by Woodcraft!

by frank | on April 18th, 2012

In our recent travels to Boston’s New England Home Show, we came across the Woodrow Instrument Company which is located in Southern Appalachian in western North Carolina at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. The Woodrow Company was named after master woodworker, Woodrow Branscombe from Jacksonville Florida. Dan studied under Woodrow for a few years, developing the Appalachian instruments in Woodrow’s shop. Before passing, Woodrow worked in his woodshop into his early 90′s. Woodrow grew up during the depression and being from the old school, he would use every scrap of wood including making projects from pallet wood. Dan said, “The major lesson I learned from Woodrow was his patience working with wood and products, learning how elements react with each other and how to manipulate those elements to make them work together.” Dan remarked, “You can’t buy that lesson in any school!”
“It takes 10 years to learn how to build a string instrument, but it takes a lifetime to learn how to finish it!”…Dan Williams

For about 20 years, Dan Williams has been making these handcrafted string instruments. Dan’s creation’s combine the musical flavors of a dulcimer and a banjo expressing the sounds of blues, bluegrass, celtic, and whatever else you would care to play on these Appalachian style instruments. Each personally attended piece produces different depths of tones depending on the wood, finishes and size created. Currently, Dan tends to the business and sales side of things, as well as designing and coming up with new finishing technologies for his instruments, while his son Aaron runs the woodshop.

Julia Rooks of The Woodrow String Instrument Company

Dan stated, “Finish is the key to a fine sounding instrument. For example, the grain of red oak,sycamore and curly ash is twisted, but when it’s quartersawn, it creates strength in a piece of wood, carries vibration, and is beautiful to look at. Hard maple refelcts vibration creating a higher pitch. Soft hard woods like cherry and black walnut absorb vibration creating a more mellow tone.”

Left to right are, The Rambler, The Old Time, The Crysta-Cello, The Artist and The Elite

From left to right above, 5 products are offered.

First is “The Rambler” with a mandolin type tone. It is the smallest, lightest and simplest of all the models. It has seven frets, four strings, two of which are double drone strings, three are tuned to the same note (high and low). This one has a black walnut body and a maple top.

Second is “The Old Time” with a banjo sounding, 7 note fretboard and a maple body with a quartersawn red oak top.

Third is “The Crysta-Cell” is named after Dan’s wife Crystal. It is made with a solid cherry body and a curly ash top. With a dragonfly design in the front, this 7 fret beauty has a deeper cello type tone.

If you are looking for more playability, “The Artist” has an extended fretboard, increasing the range and dynamic sound levels. Made from a solid black walnut body, an exotic hardwood fretboard and a quilted maple top, you will also have abalone headstock options when ordering from The Artist Series.

Finally, “The Elite” is the deeper toned guitar sounding acoustic-electric version with a standard amplifier plug-in. Made with a black walnut body, maple inlay, maple top, and a bacote fretboard, it also has an extra abalone inlay, and 12 frets for expanded higher range play.

Listen to the demo provided by Julia Rooks from The Woodrow String Instrument Company as she takes us through each of the instruments offered one string at a time!

In addition to the high quality woods in each of these instrument series, Dan finishes them with avinyl sealer, followed by nitrocellulose based laquer and a hand polish for years of protection. Dan follows the Stradivarius method of finishing in that the violin was cross-cut to determine what finish is correct for each instrument created. In Dan’s word’s, “It takes 10 years to learn how to build a string instrument, but it takes a lifetime to learn how to finish it!”

The Woodrow String Instrument Company is not only committed to making and supplying the best quality instruments. As a previous music teacher Dan would provide home instruction in all string instruments. Carrying that forward in his own company now, the dedication to music education continues on The Woodrow website where he provides a “Tuning & Playing” page. In addition, you will find Dan & company performing and marketing their talents at craft shows, festivals, a few wood shows across the country. You may check out their 2012 schedule HERE.

Dan is currently working on 3 studio performance instrument models for the recording artist Zee Avi for their European recording tour.

For additional information on The Woodrow String Instrument Company, click on the link. You will also find them on Facebook.

More to come from the Wood Expo and surrounding area, woodworking with Mike Dunbar’s Windsor chairs and carver Father Menas.

Now head to your shop and make some music!
auf Wiedersehen…Frank

Vulcan Gasifier E-1 Ready for Production - YouTube

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by VulcanGasifier

This is the E-1 Syngas Generator Unit. This unit starts out at $1200.00 Plus tax and shipping. Additional items are offerd at additional cost. Come visit us at vulcangaisfier.com for more details and paymant options.

David Blume: Nature Is Smarter Than Pesticide - YouTube

Published on Apr 17, 2012 by videonation

Agriculture in the United States has relied on the same unreliable methods and resources for decades, says David Blume, ecologist and expert on permaculture. In this clip from VideoNation and On The Earth Productions, Blume explains not only why these methods, such as the constant spraying of pesticides, are destructive but also what successful and sustainable alternatives exist.

Visit OnTheEarthProductions.com for the full interview, and visit The Nation.com for more videos.

Apr 17, 2012

David Holmgren: Permaculture - The Reverse of Globalization

Published on Apr 17, 2012 by videonation

In this video from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, ecologist David Holmgren traces the path of permaculture from its roots in the 1970s to its potential, in the future, to reshape how humans interact with the planet. He explains how its premise—working with nature rather than against it—will help us adapt to and survive in a resource-scarce world.

For more videos visit TheNation.com.

Apr 16, 2012

Report on a Potentially Dangerous New Weedkiller: Organic Gardening

An upcoming GMO could be adding millions of pounds of toxic pesticides to the food chain and environment.

A global pesticide company announced in early 2012 that it plans to start selling a new GMO, AKA genetically engineered, product to farmers as early as the 2014 growing season, a move weed scientists have been predicting for years since weeds have been growing increasingly resistant to the chemical glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

Monsanto said its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are genetically engineered to withstand sprayings of not just the Roundup weedkiller, but also dicamba, a chemical weedkiller that disrupts a plants' hormonal system and causes them to grow in abnormal ways that usually lead to death. (Dicamba is a developmental toxin.)

Ironically, the introduction of GMOs in the 1990s was supposed to lower pesticide use in the United States, but it's done anything but that. In 2009 alone, farmers dumped more than 57 million pounds of glyphosate on food crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Just like overusing antibiotics in farm animals causes antibiotics resistant, pesticide abuse causes weed resistance, resulting in massive, hard-to-kill superweeds. Because of this, non-organic farmers are forced to use more pesticides, sometimes even reverting back to older, even more dangerous types.

While Monsanto is stacking dicamba with Roundup, which, by the way, is already detected inside of the non-organic food we eat—it's legal, other companies are rushing to bring new GMOs to the market. Dow Agrosciences is hoping to introduce its 2,4-D–tolerant corn and soy. (2,4-D has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the European Union classifies it as an endocrine disruptor.)

Last year, veteran weed scientist David Mortensen, PhD, weed ecologist at Penn State University, crunched the numbers and found that commercial introduction of crops genetically engineered to withstand dicamba and 2,4-D will likely lead to a 60- to 100-percent increase in the amount of herbicides used, adding millions of pounds of toxic pesticides into the food chain and environment.

Organic sounds pretty tasty about now, doesn't it?

Apr 15, 2012

Android Phone - iPhone Tripod Mount using Binder Clips - Imgur

Get two large binder clips

And one tripod

Attach a clip

like so

Lift up

Add the second clip

Pivot tripod to make level

Add iPhone

Fits power cord & headphone

Old models: use piece of folded paper to fill gap