I have been considering my options for a greenhouse on my site for quite a while now and have come to the conclusion that to make it worthwhile I really need to incorporate a heating element. I was considering solar panels, but my home has been on the waiting list for solar since August 2019 and I still don’t have a firm commitment date. The passive solar system in the bioshelter presentation that we looked at a couple of weeks ago was also of interest.
However, I am concerned that without a backup system, solar may prove not to be dependable enough for a greenhouse that I would hope to rely on for fresh produce through the winters here in the Catskill Mountains.
Although for my purposes it needs further investigation, I really liked the idea of compost heating and think that I may have found a solution which, in addition to being dependable, is something that I can manage on my own.
I also have been planning to build a solar dehydrator, although not on the scale of those in the video. Three or four shelves would likely be all that I need. My chief concern is whether it attracts wildlife, specifically bears and rodents, both of which are rather common - and can be very destructive - in my neighborhood.
I have particular concerns about the rocket stove. While permaculture is about a systemic, holistic approach, I’ve run into a few instances in our readings and presentations thus far where I feel that the focus has been too narrow, the definition of the “system” and “whole” from a perspective on permaculture that too might suffer from tunnel vision. The rocket stove is an example of this. Although it speaks to a degree of self-reliance and incorporate many of the qualities on our “desirables list,” wood smoke is a major contributor to air pollution both indoors and out, and contains dozens of chemical compounds, some of which are believed to be highly carcinogenic.
Today, there are commercially manufactured low-emission, EPA-certified wood stoves that, if operated properly using only seasoned wood, mitigate some, although not all, of the environmental and public health risks. Home grown technologies such as the rocket stove, while ingenious, are likely doing more harm than good to both the environment and the population.
As we work this journey together toward some degree of proficiency in designing permaculture sites, I believe we have an obligation to think beyond our own sites and permaculture community. If we don't conscientiously apply the very same ethical values to the broader community, and test our ideas and technologies against broader concerns of society, I'm not certain that we will have achieved much beyond our own bubbles.