Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

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!


999 kW Grid Tied PV System in NC

This weekend we were in North Western NC consulting on a 999 kW Grid Tied Photovoltaic system. It calls for a web based remote monitoring and control system, something we are very familiar with, but much time was also spent enjoying the mountain views and sailing on the lake with new and old friends. Pictures and details will come later, as allowed.


Weekend Urban Permaculture Design Course

Common Circle Education is thrilled to present our Weekend
Urban Permaculture Design Course taking place on twelve
consecutive *Sundays* starting June 27th in California and
as a two-week intensive in Oregon.

With the news of peak oil, environmental destruction and economic
challenges in the air, permaculture offers tremendous solutions
that are simple to implement through re-localization and looking
back to how humans have lived sustainably for centuries.

Read more information:

Starting by learning the lessons from the garden with some of the
world’s most renowned organic farming experts, we will then look
at how to apply what we learned from the soil and the water to
building sustainable, lasting institutions.

During the workshop, we will talk about:

* Principles of Permaculture and Sustainable Design
* Smart Design through Careful Site Analysis
* Recognizing Patterns of Natural and Human Systems
* Reading the Land & Understanding Natural Cycles
* Soil regeneration and Land Restoration
* Food Forests, Trees & Garden Design
* Water Harvesting, Conservation, and Grey Water System Design
* Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology
* Natural Building Design
* Waste Recycling and Treatment
* Aquaculture and Animals
* Agroforestry and Forest Gardening
* Useful Plants and Planting Strategies
* Patterns of Settlement
* Cooperative Economics, Money & Financial Systems
* Designing Sustainable Cities through Sustainable Economies

“My experience in the course was invaluable. Â I find myself with a
new permaculture lens that I can put on at will, and see the world
around me in a way that I feel leads to making more conscious
decisions and living better in harmony with Mother Gaia.”
– Deborah F., Course Graduate

Read more information:

This workshop is an incredible opportunity to have fun and learn
practical skills you can apply in the real world in your own home
and backyard, or in your wider community.

You’ll learn how to create sustainable, thriving human systems,
from green houses and organic gardens, to local micro-economies
and communities, using sustainable design principles that are
applicable to every human system, from businesses, communities,
and cities to personal relationships.

Common Circle Education is the leading ecological design and holistic
living school with courses in Oregon, Hawaii and California; our
instructors are some of the most well-known leaders of the
sustainability, organic food and permaculture movements.

Upon successful completion of this course and meeting the
requirements, you’ll leave with an internationally recognized
Permaculture Design Certificate as the course will build upon
the standard 72-hour permaculture curriculum.

This course being offered at our two campuses — in
Eugene, OR as an intensive two-week course from July 10-25th;
and on Sundays in Berkeley, CA from June 27th through
September 12th (twelve Sunday series).

details at Please visit our
website, for more information about this
course as well as our Sustainability in Motion Bicycle
Tours and Regenerative Leadership for Sustainability program!

We hope you will be able to join us for this incredible,
life-changing experiential course!


Weekly Podcast, Baking Bread, & Composting Toilets

We just uploaded our weekly podcast at, and I wanted to go into some details on it. Our hosts this weekend at the Florence SC Renewable Energy & Self Sufficiency workshop, Rick & Eboni, had Hard Red Winter Wheat from the LDS cannery, so we brought our Lehman’s Best Grain Mill. We were grinding flour and baking bread together (along with their friend Rusty, a NRA Pistol instructor, and his girlfriend Jill) late Saturday night, and finally were able to taste the fruits of our labors around midnight. It was worth staying up for, even though we lost an hour on the clock.

We are uploading two video’s today that have to do with composting toilets. The first is a Joe Jenkins style collection bucket toilet. We took a five gallon pail, a snap on lid and seat from Reliance Products, and a bag of peat moss from Walmart ($9). We put 3″ of peat moss in the bottom of the bucket, and add enough to cover each deposit as you use it. When the bucket is full, empty it into a compost bin (or a stack of tires) to fully compost.

The second is a commercial composting toilet from Nature’s Head. This unit does the composting inside the toilet.


Florence SC Sustainability Workshop this weekend

Our sustainability workshop is this weekend near Florence, SC. Topics will include conservation, renewable energy, and rain water harvesting / grey-water recycling. Contact us at There are 72 hours left in our sustainable energy blitz, so get in before the Saturday deadline.


Weekend at Woodhenge

We spent the weekend working at Woodhenge. There was a new building site that needed preparation. We cut down a few trees, brush hogged the area, did some leveling, danced a jig when we mowed over a ground based yellow jacket nest, and other manual labor with a shovel and wheelbarrow. The well was extended an additional 100 feet, as it’s been dry, and so was the well. There was a clay/rock mixture that needed to be cleaned up after that procedure. We went to Pulaski and picked up a virtually new solar power system to be set up next weekend. The system consisted of 550 watts of solar panels, a outback charge controller and inverter, and a 24v, 800 amp hour L16 battery pack. We also obtained a 5500 watt Hatz diesel powered Winco generator (12 hours on the hour meter), and picked a bushel or two of veggies from the organic garden. It’s canning time at Woodhenge.


Chateuagay Wind Park

This weekend, we helped our daughter move back to Champlain College, in Burlington VT. It’s her Senior year. We passed the Chateaugay Wind Park that is under construction. Smaller than the Tug Hill project, but much needed and appreciated here in the North Country. They are very cool looking turbines, and I can’t wait to see them in operation.


Weekend with Woodhenge

Jim Juczak of Woodhenge and I spent the weekend discussing upcoming projects and events, like our pedal generators and the Canton Energy Fair, plus we demonstrated our home built wind turbines at Paul Smith’s College. Then it was back to Green Trust to install the new Conergy Solar Force water pump that Back Woods Solar sent us. We finished putting together the Al Rutan Methane Digestion series on DVD. This contains his 3 video series on The How and Why of Methane Digestion, as well as a cd with all of his ESSN articles on methane. This dvd/cd combo is available for $35 by clicking below, or dropping us an email at


Steven Spence, Bobsledding with Randy LaJoie & Geoff Bodine

My son Steven, who is in the National Guard, won second place in the Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge Race with Randy LaJoie in Lake Placid this weekend. Randy was on steering, Steven was on brakes. More pics are coming. See for more info.


[Green-Trust Off Grid] Work Weekend at Woodhenge

About 8 people are showing up at various times from Thursday through Sunday to work on a variety of projects around here. Harvesting the garden, burying wires, building cabin, finishing outhouses, drinking 15 gallons of homemade beer, the last half gallon of hard cider, developing a permaculture plan for the property, you know, things like that.

We’re also planning on picking up Al McMahon’s yurt in Fulton, NY, picking blackberries, and listening to a folk guitar player.

For more info, email Jim Juczak .

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust Off Grid at 8/24/2006 10:43:00 AM