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Green Trust is a Sustainability Research Organization dedicated to teaching folks how to live in a renewable, sustainable manner. We travel internationally, teaching workshops, and have lived off-grid, developing alternatives like:

  • biofuels (methane, ethanol and biodiesel)
  • home built wind turbines (see us on the Science Channel)
  • solar pv (electric) and thermal (hot water)
  • greywater and rain water recovery and biological filtration

Over the years, we have experimented, failed (learned), experimented some more, and had successes. Our goal is to help you through the hurdles, avoiding our mistakes, so you make new ones all your own. A wise person once said, “Experience is directly proportional to the equipment ruined”. It’s a true concept, and we hope to help you avoid the expensive and life threatening experiences. Along the way, you may on occasion let out “the magic smoke”, but if you follow our advice, you can avoid much of it. We are constantly trying to become more self sufficient, more independent, and want to help you on your journey as well!

Steve Spence

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Emergency Preparedness and Survival Basics Guide

DIY Solar Hot Water

DIY Rainwater Collection

Barrel-ponics (Aquaculture)

Canning Foods

Electric Outboard Drive for Small Boats

We are currently traveling, teaching workshops and visiting others doing similar things. We are available for projects and workshops.

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The Green-Trust Homestead is gone, but the kids are safe!

Our son Steven, Mallory, and our granddaughter Jaymi lost the house in a fire this morning. Steven (22) wasn’t home, Mallory (19) & Jaymi (1) went out the second story kitchen window. Thank God they are safe!

The house is a total loss, nothing was saved (and no insurance), but the only thing that matters is they made it out ok. Belongings can be replaced. Steven is in the National Guard. He has drill this weekend, and lost his uniforms. They need everything (clothes, hygiene, baby products at first) to start over.

If you want to help, please visit

News –


Creating Healthier Environments with Plants

By Chris Karl

Recently I met with an architect who designs healthcare facilities. He relayed how he absolutely detests the use of live plants in the properties he designs. “I don’t like that I can’t control the life cycle of the plant and how it continually changes its look,” he said with obvious disdain. I believe this obviously sedentary and obese architect has become, like so many people in this country, so far removed from nature and healthy living that he has forgotten the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and being in the company of greenery. Here is a man who designs for a population that is predominately sick and unable to control their own lifestyle that have been forced to rely on an out-of-touch designer who does not know understand the healing power of nature. I wonder when we lost our ability to appreciate the primal connection we all share with the natural world?

More and more companies today are reducing or eliminating plants in the workplace to save money. They fail to realize, however, that this cost-cutting measure is short-term thinking that will compromise their employees’ well-being. Just as plants oxygenate the environment and soothe the soul, obesity cannot be altered with empty calories but requires thoughtful nutrition to turn around a life that is heavily compromised and destined not to function optimally without those changes.

A growing body of research demonstrates that access to a natural environment indoors, where we all spend the majority of our waking hours, may improve health and well-being. As a design professional, I have seen first-hand the healing and calming benefits of plants in the workplace. Human beings are hard-wired to appreciate nature. Despite our “plugged in” and sedentary lifestyle since the 1950’s, humans were hunter gathers for over 10,000 years and living as part of nature. Today we have become so far removed from nature that some of us are unable to appreciate the beauty of a living, breathing plant within our workplace. Being around plants reduces stress and engenders a feeling of well-being and improved energy in most people; a benefit that is even more acute if correct lighting is in place. Because plants have a large surface area and exchange water and gases with their surroundings, they have a unique ability to tackle and improve many environmental problems.

“A pleasing and positive workplace that is presented as a spiritually satisfying sanctuary with natural light and greenery is enormously beneficial for a person’s well-being,” says Dr. Gilda Carle, psychotherapist, author and professor. “Being able to access and enjoy surroundings that reduce stress and engage the senses is highly therapeutic for people.”

Here are my selections for the top five plants, which not only heighten and satisfy our senses with their funky and trendy style, but also help to keep our workplace environments happier and healthier:

1) Ficus Pandurata – The Ficus Pandurata or Fiddleleaf Fig grows best in a high to medium high light environment and is an interesting variation on the standard well known Ficus elastica rubber plant. The large leaves can add a striking accent to the home or office.

2) Polyscias Fabian – A native of Brazil, Polyscias or Geranium-leaf Aralia or Arilia Favian is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a compact habit. While it is widely used as for hedges in the tropics, in the United States, we use it as a beautiful, eco-friendly border as well as a captivating stand-alone “look at me” tree.

3) Dracaena Janet Craig Compacta – Dracaena is a genus of forty species of subtropical, evergreen, woody plants grown for their statuesque form and ornamental foliage. They are sometimes mistakenly identified as palms but are actually more closely related to lilies. The name Dracaena is derived from the Greek word “drakaina”, a female dragon. The link between plant and beast is the resinous red gum produced when the stem is cut which, when thickened, is supposed to resemble dragon’s blood. It is used as a varnish and in photo engraving.

4) Dracaena Marginata Character – Originally from Madagascar, Dracaena are known for their visually arresting ornamental foliage. An increasingly popular indoor plant in the modern workplace, the plant, which can grow up to 15 feet in height, is supported by an aged and knobby trunk which gives it a unique character.

5) Philodendron Red Congo –The Philodendron Red Congo is a new and distinct cultivar of Philodendron. It is a product of the cross or breeding between Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’ as the female parent and an unidentified cultivar of the Philodendron tatei. This plant grows vigorously in an upright but spreading or open manner. New Red Congo leaves are brownish maroon to almost red in color while the large mature ones are dark green in color with a touch of red. The plant’s leaf petioles remain reddish purple to bright right with long-lasting petiole sheaths.

“There is now general agreement within the scientific community that plants improve the indoor environment, and are useful weapons in the fight against the modern phenomenon known as sick building syndrome (SBS),” says Kenneth Freeman, International Technical Director at Ambius who has led many research initiatives on the benefits of plants in the workplace. “No specific cause of SBS has been identified, but poor air quality, excessive background noise and inadequate temperature and light control are thought to be important factors. Because plants have a large surface area and exchange water and gases with their surroundings, they have a unique ability to tackle many environmental problems.” In particular, plants can reduce levels of carbon dioxide, which can accumulate in buildings from the breathing of its occupants and the by-products of heating systems and electrical equipment. Plants also increase the relative humidity, which should be between 40% and 60% RH for maximum human comfort. Plants reduce levels of certain pollutant gases, such as formaldehyde, benzene and nitrogen dioxide as well as airborne dust levels. Plants also reduce air temperatures and background noise levels.

In many office towers and hospitals, there is a need to channel pedestrian traffic towards significant landmarks, such as exits, check-in desks, escalators and common passageways. Plants offer an attractive and practical solution, providing a living barrier that gently guides people to where you want them to go. Choosing the right plants and containers for this purpose is very important. Spiky plants or those with sharp-edged leaves would clearly be inappropriate in an area designed for heavy pedestrian traffic flow. Containers need to be robust, take up the minimum of floor space and in some situations be linkable to form an impenetrable wall.

About the author:

Based in Orange County, California, Chris Karl is a Design Specialist for Ambius, a division of Rentokil Initial which offers a full spectrum of services to enhance the interior space for the hospitality, healthcare, retail, and commercial industries. Chris’ design savvy was recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Plantscape Industry Alliance (PIA) for his horticultural work in the Beckman Coulter lobby in Orange County, California. With a B.A. and Masters Degree in Fine Arts from California State University in Long Beach, Chris designs and implements interior projects for commercial clients. He can be reached at


Science Channel Visits Green-Trust / Woodhenge

This was a very busy weekend for the Green-Trust and Woodhenge teams, as The Science / Discovery Channel film team arrived to do a photo shoot on Wind Turbine construction as well as our other many renewable energy projects. We spent the day Saturday preparing for their arrival, cleaning up, setting up parts and supplies, and preparing blades and other sub assemblies. Saturday night, 5 of the crew showed up and went out to dinner with Jim and Krista Juczak, Sunday morning the rest of the crew showed up with the veggie powered bus and the cameras. The three hosts, Micah Donovan, Christopher Martin and Nobu Adilman, were a blast to work with. Some of their work can be seen at Peacepoint TV. More pictures will be uploaded shortly.

Steve and Jim showing the show hosts how to construct the wind turbine.

Veggie Bus with mini greenhouse and 120 watt solar panel on roof.

Film crew setting up the shot.


Water Shortages

It’s been a mighty dry month or so. The well has been intermittent at best, and the water quality is substandard. We have been drinking bottled water ($0.25 / gallon in 5 gallon jugs), and limiting our water usage, but it’s time to put in the cistern we have been delaying. I dug up a couple of Amazon gift certificates, and ordered the best books I could find on rain water harvesting and storage. We will be drilling a DIY well on Oct. 25th, so take a look at A local concrete company will deliver into our hole, a 1000 gallon precast concrete cistern for $600. The last item we will need is a Aermotor Wind Pump to top the new well, and fill the cistern, which will also be fed from the roof gutters. Next years Green House will take the outflow of our greywater and use subsurface irrigation for our vegetables. This will require biofriendly cleaners, no chemicals, and careful analysis of what goes down our drains.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape – Update: One of the best I’ve ever read. Highly Recommended. Very readable, understandable, and applicable.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 2): Water-harvesting Earthworks – Update: Won’t be available until January 2008. Volume 3 on cisterns and tanks is even further out. If they are as good as Volume 1, they will be awesome. See

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks – Update: Fantastic reference, also a good read, and yet easily implemented.

Rainwater Catchment Systems for Domestic Supply: Design, Construction and Implementation – Update: Another required reference. Lots of background material.

New Addition:

The New Create an Oasis With Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systms – Includes Branched Drains – Art has a way of relating of relaying knowledge to the reader/implementer that is never “Dry”, and easily understandable.

We will be discussing the details of this project as we progress at, and keeping folks up to date here at as well.

Also see Dew harvesting and Rain Barrels.


Auto Transfer Switch installed, Geodesic Quonset lumber arriving.

The first load of lumber for the Geodesic Quonset was delivered. Construction starts immediately.

The Automatic Transfer Switch for the VeggieGen was installed today. It worked flawlessly. With the generator off, the battery bank powers the house through the Cobra HighGear 2kw MSW Inverter. Since this Transfer Switch is set up for 220vac, the two hot positions for the inverter (shorepower) are jumpered to supply 120vac to both sides of the AC Panel. Do not do this if you have a 220vac breaker feeding a 220vac appliance. The VeggieGen (3 phases of 120 vac per phase) has two 120vac legs feeding the generator positions on the transfer switch. The output of the switch feeds the main breaker of the AC Panel. The wire is 10/3 with ground which handles the 30 amps per leg we can pull from the gen. 30 seconds after the Generator is started, power flow to AC panel is smoothly switched from Inverter to Generator. The Computer and Satellite Receiver don’t even see the change. You can also get more info on our PV/Wind System at our Wiki Site.

Automatic Transfer Switch – Two 50 amp hots and one 70 amp neutral switched.

2kw Inverter, 30amp charge controller, and other PV System Components

12 volt, 675 ah Battery Bank – Six 6 volt Trojan T-105

50 amp generator powered Battery Charger


Solar hot water, and rain water harvesting collections

We have been producing and collecting ebooks and documentation on heating water with the sun, as well as harvesting rain water. We have made these collections available as downloads, and will be adding to them as we develop them, or get permission to reproduce them. All we ask is a donation to help us continue our research. The download links are at:

and the donation link is:

More downloads are available at


[Green-Trust CHP] Green-Trust and Lister CSOG JoinForces

The Lister CS Owners Group and the Green-Trust Lister group have joined forces. The combined group can be found at Lister_CSOG at Yahoo groups. We discuss Lister powered generators, cogen (CHP) applications, general engine maintenance issues, as well as biodiesel and used fryer oil fuel. The group description is as follows:

An Owners Group for Lister CS slow speed diesel engines, Startomatic generator sets and Indian built Listeroid engines.

This group is for all Lister CS and Listeroid enthusiasts in the UK and elsewhere.

It is aimed squarely at the enthusiast who wants to put these engines to work making power and useful heat.

Topics for Discussion.

  • Obtaining new and second hand engines
  • Restoring original engines to working condition
  • Using a Lister CS in a home heat and power system
  • Lister Startomatic generator sets
  • Running a Lister engine on vegetable oil and other fuels
  • Obtaining spare parts, alternators and accessories
  • Imported engines
  • Instruction manuals
  • Useful contacts in UK and elsewhere
  • Transporting Lister CS engines safely

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust CHP at 7/25/2006 06:42:00 AM


The Green Trust Water Purifier in Anguilla

We just heard from one of our customers in Anguilla (eastern Caribbean) and she included a picture of her Green Trust Berkey Water Purifier. She bought one of our kits and built the unit from the ebook and video we include. You can learn more about our water purifier at


Why Composting, and How to do it!

We have posted quite a bit about composting lately, and we have done that because we believe it’s so important. Valuable nutrients are being wasted by the ton in this country when folks consider everything as garbage that needs to be landfilled. This causes landfill space issues in addition to losing the nutrients being thrown away.

The breakdown of biological matter is called digestion. There are two types, aerobic (with air, better known as composting), and anaerobic (without air, used in producing biogas (methane)).

We cover methane gas production and usage (water and space heating, electrical generation and more) in other material at and

In this article, we are going to concentrate on aerobic digestion, more commonly known as composting.

There are several methods for composting. Some are outdoor methods, where materials are piled, sometimes in a bin, or in a row, and nature is left to take it’s course. Some are more intentional, where the material is turned or rotated, speeding up the process.

There are indoor methods as well, including worm composting and mushroom composting.

Worm composting produces a high quality soil amendment (worm castings), a liquid fertilizer (worm tea), and of course, worms, which can be used as chicken or fish food, or sold to fishermen. The most common composting worm is Eisenia Fetida, or red worm.

Mushroom composting is another option, especially with woody yard waste, which does not normally compost well. The byproducts are mushroom compost, and of course, mushrooms, which are a healthy food crop that can be used for personal consumption or commercial resale.

The goal here is to produce high nutrient value soil amendments and fertilizer, improving the soil quality, and growing better plants without chemical additives.

Another method is grub composting. The grubs consume all the biological matter (including “uncompostables” like meat and human/pet poo), so instead of giving you compost, they give you high protein grubs, to be used as chicken or fish food. As fish and vegetable gardens (or aquaponics) do not use dirt as a growing medium (it’s a form of hydroponics), compost is not needed, but high quality fish food is.

For all the above methods, there are a variety of DIY options as well as commercial products available. We have built worm and grub bins using plastic storage tubs, barrels and buckets, compost bins using old pallets, and mushroom beds using woodchips and logs. The following links will lead you to DIY plans, as well as the packaged commercial solutions.

These topics are discussed at

Further reading: is a comprehensive online destination for all things composting, encouraging people to reduce their ecological footprint and reconnect with their local ecosystem through composting, organic gardening, and promoting the Earth’s natural lifecycle.