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Episode 58 – Veg Glean

This one was a year in the works. Way back when, while shooting Episode 23 at Riverbend Gardens, I was enlightened to the situation that is common at vegetable farms in the fall: harvests fill up storage capacity, labour is relieved for the season, and anything left in the ground becomes compost-in-place. Sensible, really. Wouldn’t make sense to try to anticipate the storage capacity and shoot for it, as the first lean growing season would teach you that’s a really bad business plan. So surplus is normal.

At the time, I’d just been introduced to veg gleaning, as a farmer had called the Food Bank asking if they wanted a 1/4 acre of vegetables he had in the ground. The Food Bank, unresourced to go get it, put him onto Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton – who have people swinging on the front lines all fall rescuing fruit of all types. So OFRE put a crew together to harvest it. And win-win-win happened.

So having made arrangements for this one last year, I was awaiting the call from Riverbend Gardens, who had a year earlier generously offered their surplus to charity if OFRE could come get it. The text msg arrived on my phone. I lined up a Salvation Army truck to pick up the charity’s share. And win-win-win happened.

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Large DIY Solar Space and Water Heating System in Maine

Steve has designed and built a very nice solar space and water heating system in Maine.   The system has a number of interesting and unique features including,

  • A large “hizer” collector with full width “risers” running horizontally.
  •  Integration of the solar heating with the existing boiler.
  • A Steve made controller for the system.
  • A new technique for making the PEX heat exchangers.
  • Drain back of the collector to a tank 70 ft from the collector.
The 28 ft wide Hizer style collector
The collector is 28 ft wide and is built as a single “hizer” style collector rather than 7 or so side by side vertically oriented collectors that would normally be used.

Picture with glazing off showing the Hizer style “risers”.
Building a wide collector like this as a single unit and with the horizontal “riser” layout simplifies the plumbing, reduces labor, reduces material needed, and reduces the cost of the collector.

In this system, the solar heat source and boiler heat source are integrated into a single heating system.   And, the system also provides domestic water heating.


System diagram showing integration with existing boiler system.
Steve worked out a way to recoil the PEX heat exchangers to improve heat transfer and make them more efficient.

The tool for recoiling the PEX to make more efficient heat exchangers.
The system uses a Steve designed and built controller.
Circuit diagram for the system controller.


Gary

Posted on

Large DIY Solar Space and Water Heating System in Maine

Steve has designed and built a very nice solar space and water heating system in Maine.   The system has a number of interesting and unique features including,

  • A large “hizer” collector with full width “risers” running horizontally.
  •  Integration of the solar heating with the existing boiler.
  • A Steve made controller for the system.
  • A new technique for making the PEX heat exchangers.
  • Drain back of the collector to a tank 70 ft from the collector.
The 28 ft wide Hizer style collector
The collector is 28 ft wide and is built as a single “hizer” style collector rather than 7 or so side by side vertically oriented collectors that would normally be used.

Picture with glazing off showing the Hizer style “risers”.
Building a wide collector like this as a single unit and with the horizontal “riser” layout simplifies the plumbing, reduces labor, reduces material needed, and reduces the cost of the collector.

In this system, the solar heat source and boiler heat source are integrated into a single heating system.   And, the system also provides domestic water heating.


System diagram showing integration with existing boiler system.
Steve worked out a way to recoil the PEX heat exchangers to improve heat transfer and make them more efficient.

The tool for recoiling the PEX to make more efficient heat exchangers.
The system uses a Steve designed and built controller.
Circuit diagram for the system controller.


Gary

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Episode 57 – Sunrise Farm

A couple decades ago, some forward thinking individual(s) decided to put on a holistic management course within the agriculture community, and whoever you are/were, I thank you. The output of that re-think of industrialized ag can be seen in the successes and influence of Ron Hamilton (Ep. 4), Peter Lundgard (Ep. 47), and featured in this one [and long overdue at that], Don Ruzicka of Sunrise Farm.

I find myself lacking the adequate supply of positive adjectives to adequately describe Don and his approach to sharing his experience in the world of food production – but I’ll try a few: he’s passionate, gentle, kind, generous, and vastly underrated in terms of his profile in the broader food community. The foods folks like this produce should be the brands that matter in the food industry – in this case not just because of animal handling practices, but because of philosophy and approach to land stewardship in general. We’re partly on the way down that road of producer becoming rock star in Alberta, but I think there’s some consumer flushing out to do of what’s good marketing, and where best practices are being reinvented – a motivator for me personally to keep visiting farms and asking questions with a camera rolling. Don’s the real deal.

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A Unique DIY Solar Pool Heating Collector Using PVC Pipe

This pool collector is a different slant on pool collector design, and may have some unique benefits for some people.

In a nutshell, the collector consists of large diameter supply and return manifolds that are connected by closely space half inch PVC pipe risers.  The manifolds supply water to the risers, which pick up the solar heat and deliver it to the pool.
The half inch PVC risers are attached to the PVC manifolds by drilling and taping a half inch NPT pipe thread in the manifold for each PVC riser pipe.  Then male threaded to PVC adapter fittings are used to attach the half inch PVC to the manifolds.  This is a nice, simple, reliable and inexpensive way to make the collector.  Since the collector is custom made, it can be built to fit the roof space available.  The riser runs can be made quite long, allowing one large collector to be used instead of several smaller one.
The standard mat style pool heating collectors may be a better choice if they are readily available where you are and can be fit into the space you have.  Matt came up with this design because he was in a country where the mat style collectors were not available at a reasonable price, and this design proved to be a good alternative.  The cost may end up being more or less than the mat collectors depending on where you are and how big the collectors are.
The pdf that Matt provides has a great deal of good detail on the design and build for the collector and provides plenty of detailed instruction for people who have not worked with PVC before.
Gary
Posted on

A Unique DIY Solar Pool Heating Collector Using PVC Pipe

This pool collector is a different slant on pool collector design, and may have some unique benefits for some people.

In a nutshell, the collector consists of large diameter supply and return manifolds that are connected by closely space half inch PVC pipe risers.  The manifolds supply water to the risers, which pick up the solar heat and deliver it to the pool.
The half inch PVC risers are attached to the PVC manifolds by drilling and taping a half inch NPT pipe thread in the manifold for each PVC riser pipe.  Then male threaded to PVC adapter fittings are used to attach the half inch PVC to the manifolds.  This is a nice, simple, reliable and inexpensive way to make the collector.  Since the collector is custom made, it can be built to fit the roof space available.  The riser runs can be made quite long, allowing one large collector to be used instead of several smaller one.
The standard mat style pool heating collectors may be a better choice if they are readily available where you are and can be fit into the space you have.  Matt came up with this design because he was in a country where the mat style collectors were not available at a reasonable price, and this design proved to be a good alternative.  The cost may end up being more or less than the mat collectors depending on where you are and how big the collectors are.
The pdf that Matt provides has a great deal of good detail on the design and build for the collector and provides plenty of detailed instruction for people who have not worked with PVC before.
Gary
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Episode 56 – Pig Day

Pig Day. This was my 5th annual pig day – the one day a year we spend putting up all the pork we’ll eat for the entire year. If we run out, one waits until the next pig arrives. This site is long enough in the tooth to have documented the 1st annual Pig Day. I’m sure it will document many more.

This one was particularly memorable. Twitter made me aware of rock-star-in-hiding Elyse Chatterton, a Master Butcher from the UK with some serious meat cutting skills. A half bottle of wine made me brave enough to invite her. After that, a number of invitations went out to friends, and we all of a sudden had a crew of 12 and 10 sides of Tamworth for 2012′s Pig Day – including the farmers that raised the pigs. A full day of sharing, cutting beautiful pork, hard work, eating, drinking, with the air wafting with wood smoke and conversation. Not sure there’s more one can ask for.

The video features Elyse talking through how she’s accustomed to breaking down a pork, UK-style, and Shannon Ruzicka speaking to how the pigs are raised. And yes there was some roast tying race action. And yes, she won with ease.

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Wild Rice Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Wild Rice Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Wild rice is intensely aromatic so it’s a great match for the bold flavors of saffron and Madeira in this wild rice pilaf recipe. Roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts studded on top give it a festive look and help make it filling enough for a vegetarian main dish.