Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Anguilla Solar Upgrade Finished

I arrived back in the States late last night, after a full day of travel, wait, travel, and wait some more. One boat and two planes, but it’s good to be home, safe and sound. The solar upgrade was successful, and fun, and I met a bunch of folks who are also interested in sustainability and renewable energy, on an Island that has lots of potential, but none of it is being utilized.

Electricity for the Island is produced with diesel generators, and fresh water is made with fuel as well. Electricity is often off, and costs $0.44 / kWh when it’s on. Wells are almost non-existent, and although cisterns are popular, it’s not filtered for drinking, water makers are used and “potable” water is delivered by tanker trucks, and distributed in bottles. Don’t even get me started on waste disposal, as the rocky ground doesn’t perc, and there is no recycling on the Island. We have much work to do.

Below is a simplified diagram of the power system. The 12v cistern pump is the only low voltage dc load, everything else runs through the inverter. Some of the loads include chargeable power tools, compact fluorescent lighting, cell phone, fans, laptop and washing machine.


Something fun for the kids!

Collaborating with unique talents from the independent art scene, Modern-twist brings art to even the littlest table. Made from silky food-grade, hand silk-screened silicone, the mats won’t crease or rip. The mats are ideal for travel and mealtime activities. The kid’s placemats feature creative, playful designs that will amuse and inspire little tikes. For parents who live a design-inspired lifestyle, the simple, clean design provides optimal functionality with a minimalist aesthetic. Nurturing the inner artist in every child, the mats are doodle-friendly with the use of washable or dry erase markers—save paper/save trees, just clean off with a damp cloth or rinse. Color again and again.

Easy to clean, these mats offer unlimited fun for the kids, just don’t give them the markers until after they eat!


Happy 30’th Birthday, Pacman!

We are working on a podcast on worm composting that will be uploaded this weekend, along with instructions for building and operating your own worm composter. We missed last week because we were out of town.

In the meantime, since this is the 30’th anniversary of Pacman, we wanted to share a memory. 25 years ago I worked for Billotta Music, a vending company near Rochester NY, repairing arcade games, and Pacman was one of our games we serviced. It was a cool job, as playing the games was an important part of troubleshooting and repairing. Have fun bringing back the memories with this playable tribute!


Introducing Easy DIY Chicken Coop Plans

“Who Else Wants the Easy Plans to Build an Attractive & Affordable Long Lasting ‘Predator-Safe’ Chicken Coop from Home That Your Backyard Chickens Love To Lay Eggs In…”

Buying your chicken coop new from the store will usually cost $500.00 upwards! and all you’ll often get is a flat-pack coop that you have to build yourself anyway, you just end up paying for overpriced materials, no fun!

Building your own chicken coop from home is by far the most cost effective solution, not to mention the most rewarding and fun, however…

you need to research and account for the right materials and measurements, nesting boxes, perches and entertainment, lighting, positioning, ventilation, waste collection and of course protection from the elements and deadly predators…

…but planning and doing it all yourself can seem just too overwhelming

Fortunately there’s an easy, cost-effective solution to build your own attractive, affordable & secure outdoor chicken coop from home in mere hours…

If you’re serious about keeping free range backyard chickens, be it out in the countryside, in the suburbs or in the city, you’re about to discover a goldmine…

Check out the Chicken Kit today!


Want more info on how to garden successfully?

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. – Mark May 2 and 3, 2010 on your calendar—these are red-letter days, dedicated to fun and enjoyment in a family-oriented atmosphere. Come out and join in the all-new and improved Spring Planting Festival at Bakersville.

Want more info on how to garden successfully? You will thoroughly enjoy our broad range of speakers, with talks on such diverse subjects as: The Healing Power of Gardens (and garlic); Gardening for the Fun of it—Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff; Compost; Organic Gardening; and much more. These are free seminars and you may attend at your own leisure.

Our festivals have become a premier event for historic culture and music, last year drawing 60+ musicians from many different states, including the Legendary Sourdough Slim. You’re going to love tons of music ranging from Western, Country, Gospel, Folk, Blue Grass, Americana, and Irish—playing continuously both days on 3 stages. Enjoy some of Branson, Missouri’s finest talent and have your tapping toe ready!

The National Folk Music Contest is open to any contestant who is not a Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. employee or a professional musician hired by Baker Creek. Free for any and all old-fashioned musicians, solo acts or groups. Bring your instrument or voice and go for the Grand Prize of $600 cash. There’s a second place cash prize of $200. Judging will be done by the audience. This is always a crowd-pleaser.

Over a hundred vendors selling old-fashioned fresh honey, fresh-baked bread, homemade jams and preserves, vegetable starts including tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, and much, much more will tempt your palate and your inner gardening muse.

If you get hungry, there’s our new Earth Restaurant, with delicious meals made from scratch using local ingredients.

Spring Planting Festivals are held at our village and farm. Come to Mansfield, MO and follow the signs. We offer free tent and RV camping; no need to register—first come, first served. Admission: $5.00 per person each day. Pay at the event. Children 16 and under are free. All pets over 20 pounds must be pre-approved. No weapons, please.

Don’t forget to do a complete tour of Bakersville while you’re here. We’ve added a lot in the past year.
For more details, go to our web site or call us at 417.924.8917.

Y’all come!


Preparedness is fun at the Bitterroot SOS Co-Op

Our friend Jim Farley sent us a newsletter put out by their preparedness co-op. We though you might find it interesting to see what other groups are doing. I have included an excerpt, and contact information for the group:

I was glad to see Dancing Bear express his fun in doing these things which is our whole intent of the Bitterroot SOS Co-op as I’ve said from the git-go.  In expressing this to the group last night, I said people pretty much do all they do in life, either out of fear or fun.  People are seeing we are all having these meetings out of fun, not fear.  It is fun to create all the many self-reliance tools, systems and products, not because of fear of the boogy man, but the sheer enjoyment of doing things for ourselves.  It is a true warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing you can do so much to free yourself of total life sustainment from outside sources.  I’ve never seen anybody that was not happier with themselves when they learned and built something that helped them to become a more self-reliant person. 
Prepared people have more fun in life.  Even if no catastrophic event ever happens, we will all still get to enjoy the fruits of our labors in this effort, become far more independent and save a lot of money in the normal costs of living in producing/generating much of our own food, energy, shelter and all of those activities of the 7 task forces.


Wind Sailing on Ice

Sustainable fun with winter ice sailing:


All work and no play ….

Matt, Harvey, & Steve

So, the trip to Anguilla wasn’t all work. We had a week of swimming, hiking, exploring the rocky coast and beaches, meeting new people, music festivals and sailing races. The pics show what a wonderful place Anguilla is.


A Slice of Organic Life

Interview with Sheherazade Goldsmith, Editor of “A Slice of Organic Life”

Steve: What was the thought process behind the “A Slice of Organic Life”?

Sheherazade: I think there is a huge misconception that living an eco friendly life usually means being self sufficient therefore living in the countryside. I wanted to prove that this is not the case. That you can live anywhere and still make a contribution to the environment without actually making any sacrifices. The books projects are divided into sections that reflect the type of homes people have and what things they might be able to do.

Steve: I guess we are part of that misconception, since we do live in a very rural area, are off-grid, and pretty self sufficient. But I found very good ideas on becoming even more so. one person can’t begin to know everything.
This book was a group project, wasn’t it. articles submitted by a variety of writers, collated and managed by you?

Sheherazade: Yes. I was very fortunate that through my husband’s magazine ‘The Ecologist‘ I had access to some amazing writers such as Pat Thomas and Matilda Lee. The book is a reflection of the changes I have made to my own lifestyle. The projects are all things I have tried out myself and have found not only enjoyable but also very easy. As you said previously this is a journey in sense and how nice to discover something new everyday

Steve: two of my extended family members have read the book, my dad is reading it now, and some of our community members are buying their own copy. My Dad is the one who raised me with a yearning for a closer tie to the earth, and a simpler lifestyle. I’m 42 now, he’s retired and now lives in town, and has started to implement some of your ideas.

Sheherazade: It’s so wonderful to hear things like that. Very flattering. I hoped that the book would inspire people to make as little as 2 or 3 changes to their lives. As we know collectively these small changes such as using energy efficient light bulbs or buying local can make an enormous difference. I also found that once you start considering what effect you have on the environment you can’t stop. It’s like a domino effect.

Steve: this was our first year that we switched from row gardening to the square foot method. Much less labor intensive, and makes gardening more fun. I find that if things are broken down into small, easy steps, folks will tend to try it sooner, and stick with it.

Sheherazade: Again, there is a huge misconception that being green is more labour intensive, more expensive and means giving up all your creature comforts. As you have discovered through your gardening this is not actually true. More often than not you are improving your lifestyle be it through eating food that has a better taste because it is seasonal and grown without all the usual highly toxic chemicals or using chemical free cleaning products in the house. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking with home grown produce.

Steve: has living simply and healthy been a lifetime goal of yours, or something more recent?

Sheherazade: No certainly not a lifetime goal. In my twenties I couldn’t have cared less. But when I became pregnant I started to consider what sort of future I wanted for my children and the value of good nutrition.

Steve: I totally agree. I sometimes give away a cheap compost bin kit that I get from a company called Harbor Freight to folks. Get people used to composting organics instead of tossing them away as waste. This then leads them to want to do something with that compost, typically a garden. Baby steps….

I was raised on my Dad’s knee, reading Mother Earth News, and other sustainability and renewable related materials. It’s been a life time thing for me.

Sheherazade: Having been a city girl I am know raising my children in a rural environment and they absolutely love it. In a sense I am learning about these issues with them and together we have great fun tending to our animals, growing strawberries and making jams.

Steve: my youngest is 16, and he and his brother (18) are heavy into cars and trucks. so I have taught them about running veggie oil, biodiesel, and ethanol, instead of preaching “automobiles are bad”. This works with their innate love of mechanical things. The gardening they are not interested in, but the homemade wind turbines that we build, and the lister veggie generator does grab their attention.

Steve: I want to thank you for your time today, and for producing such a wonderful reference. I’m sure it will kick start a lot of people into positive action. If you have any thought you’d like to share with our readers in the future, please send them to me, and I’ll make sure they get published. Thank you again for being patient through the technical issues.
For those who would like to experience this reference, full of useful, and easy to implement steps in efficiency and healthy living, you can find it at


Clean, Green, Water Fun

A new twist on the old pedal bikes from old, Check out the itBike!

A fast, nimble, and very stable platform, “it” weighs less than 75 lbs, and disassembles easily for storage or transport. Pricey, at $2500, but not out of line for this application.