Domestic house food production system

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This article is about making a food production system for domestic houses. It has been taken from my website.

Why needed ?[edit]

At the moment, environmental pollution trough agriculture (eg by pesticides, nutrient wash-outs, GHG-emissions) is of a major concern to everyone on earth. As such, the governments of many countries around the world are looking into new ways on how this matter can be addressed. In addition, a lot of organizations and companies are trying to create and/or figure out systems on how the matter can be solved.

Vertical farming, which is being concretely worked out by Prof. Despommier might prove one of the answers to phase out agricultural pollution, as well as food security, and in cooperation with other technology (for staple crop production) may be rigid enough to completely alter the way how we produce food.

However, it is obvious that the Vertical Farm alone will not be enough to make a viable alternative for traditional agriculture. This as it is obvious that more and different crops will need to be grown, including financially unattractive staple crops (hereby eliminating the possibility of growing it in the Vertical Farm).

Overview[edit]

As such, I myself have been working on a system to produce the staple crops in domestic homes, hereby allowing financially unattractive crops to be grown by the consumer himself, retaining most environmental advantages also present in the Vertical Farm aswell as giving the consumer some other benefits. As such, my system could be used in conjunction to mr. Despommier's Vertical Farms. In addition to domestic homes, the system might also be integrated into campers and (large) vessels that make long travels (eg container vessels, bulkstorage vessels, roro-ships, aircraft carriers (eg USS Nimitz/Truman, Kitty Hawk and other CV-class ships), large hospital ships as the 'Oswaldo Cruz', ...). Practical examples have already been given by eg the "geWOONboot-team" (see link below). The latter would however not be the primary target group.

Advantages[edit]

The main advantages of my system are:

  • despite being less cost-effective than the Vertical Farm in terms of financial profits, it might be still cheaper to grow these crops than simply buying it from the supermarket (in the long run)
  • it would give the consumer more self sufficiency, being helpful in certain situations
  • it would make some rooms in the house more appealing
  • the plants may be used to allow natural ventilation and cooling, ... (see log id's-model home)
  • it would filter out several toxic gases, which are always present within the house because of its presence in construction materials and from the outside (road transport, energy generation)

Any downsides to normally present in regular agriculture (physical work, ...) is completely eliminated trough good plant setup (e.g. by permaculture/agro-ecosystem approaches), a more industrial approach (e.g. using abiotic substrates; as too present in the approach followed by Koppert Cress), automation of systems, low-cost systems and increased efficiency systems (eg as seen in the solar gardening/intensive farming methods of Leander and Gretchen Poisson), ...

My system is similar to the one used by BioTecture in their 'Earth Ships' yet should be more easily to implement (being set-up as a assembly kit). In set-up, it would be much similar to the Integral Urban House-approach by the Farralones Institute.

The set-up[edit]

Firstly, focus will go on whether regular greenhouses may be used (eg in penthouse-flats, ...). If so, soy may be grown which allows a variety of foods (tofu/seitan/natto/tempeh/...).[1][2][3][4][5] It should then be researched whether

  • enough light is present in the area/flat itself
  • what the surface area needs to be for the soy to feed the people
  • how much energy is to be used

Depending on the outcome, other cultivation means/crops may be used (see below) or a partial system may be worked out (eg with a small greenhouse on top of the house in which only certain, non-staple crops can be grown (supplementary crops for additional nutrition, ...). Perhaps that some techniques for directing light (eg Parans-system) may be used for lower food-production rooms. Examples are available from Log Id, Biotecture, Raymond Ip's vertical farm design, ... If not possible, mushroom growing (and perhaps algae) can be used in conjunction with extra crops to attain a full meal (mineral requirements per day, ...). The algae and mushrooms to be used are to be probably the same as used in meat replacements (valess and quorn); if not enough in minerals/calories, ... , several type of (less known) mushrooms may be required. Shii-take mushrooms have been described in the anti-aging plan as supercharger-foods, yet may still lack in nutrients (other mushrooms will need to be found).

Another possibility is the set-up of a aquatic system. This may allow fish-growing (source of selenium), aswell as nori/kombu (source of vitamin B6 and calcium) and other supercharger-foods. Saline crops are well combinable in a aquatic system, where it may be combined with fish-growing (in aquaculture). A practical example to this is the project undertaken by the Belgian "Provinicaal Proefcentrum voor de Groenteteelt" which is mixing a system of tilapia-fish cultivation with tomato growing (conducted at the Improvement Centre in Bleiswijk). Another practical example is available from the Integral Urban House. Here fish and crustaceans are grown in houses. The system is designed by Sterling Bunnell and includes raising native water organisms such as Sacramento blackfish, rainbow trout, and Pacifasticus (a genus of crayfish that can grow to lobster size). The pond is also stuffed with daphnia and algae and Bunnell's "livestock" feeds on worms and bees raised by Integral Urban House staffers. The worms are grown in sawdust-covered trays mounted below IUH chicken cages to catch the birds' droppings. (The worms thus serve as both fish food and "workers" that speed the production of compost from the chicken manure. At present, Bunnell is also installing a biological filtration system designed to remove growth-inhibiting wastes (produced by the fish) from the pond's water. The system is stunningly simple: It's nothing more than a bed of oyster shells—coated with bacteria that feed upon (and filter out) impurities in the water—through which the body of water's effluent is passed. If it works, the filtering system should significantly increase the yield (by weight) of fish from the small pond.

Finally, the cultivation of single cellular organisms (eg in bioreactors, ...) may also be a possibility. Brewers yeast (a supercharger-food), which is rich in thiamin, folacin, ... can be set-up here. Perhaps that certain yeast-strains may offer even higher nutrition-values.

The extra nutrients may be derived from extra crops that improve nutrient absorption, fix Anemia and/or supply nutrients themselves; besides being easy to grow (low light requirements, abundant growth, ...). These include foremost Spirulina platensis (a small aquarium is required herefore), and Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea). In addition, Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Armoracia rusticana and Urtica dioica may be used. Finally, citrus aurantium may be used occasionally to allow people to implement trainingschedules to grow more muscle/become fitter (when combined with a proteine-rich/carbohydrate-poor diet). It can also be used to allow people to change their activity level/metabolism gradually. PS: aldough ephedra might also be used for this latter, citrus aurantium is a far better/safer alternative, allowing increased lypolyse, thermogenese, increased muscle-formation/performance and decreased anxiety/heart problems

Other crops[edit]

Further crops that may be used and which need to looked into are:

Angelica sinensis, Equisetum arvense, Medicago sativa, Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Maca (Lepidum meyenii), Petroselinum crispum, Rubus idaeus, Rosa canina, Taraxacum officinalis, Trigonella foenum graecum.

Guarana and Kombucha may finally also be made into drinks and can be used as additif (dough not on its own).

Finally, the biggest addition of the system would be its nutrient recycling; this would be done by compostation (composting loo, bioreactor and specialised organisms).

Advanced cooking techniques[edit]

The system does not foresee the use of cooking oils or fats. This not only makes the food healthier, but as oils are always have a limited storage/shelf life, it also makes the food production system to be more efficient. Instead of using oils/butter or fats to cook, techniques and cooking utensils that do not require oil are to be used. Examples for these are boing, steaming, ... (eg trough rice cooker or in a pot over a plain fire, food steamer). Utensils as steamers finally also allow all nutrients to be consumed as they can catch all the water vapour that normally disappears (hereby making sure that nutrient deficiency is less likely (if the diet/crops are selected correctly).

Recycling system[edit]

The system is to depend on heavily on nutrient recycling (to make sure the nutrients remain in the system). This is done by compost toilets and or combined with other composting techniques (regular composting, vermicomposting, mushroom composting or Bokashi composting). All latter composting techniques allow the composting system part to take up less space and may be more efficient. However, Bokashi and mushroom compsting may only be applied with easy decomposable material (thus no bones, or fish/meat). As such, they will only be used in conjunction with the composting toilet/regular composting system to reduce the strain on the main composting system. Seperating the manure may be applied herefore (see links below for more detailed information about the systems).

Cooperation[edit]

Possible cooperation for the system can be had from BioTecture, and a number of other organisations with similar projects (eg Zonneterp, Raymond Kurzweil's organisation "Ray and Terry's; see http://www.kurzweiltech.com/ktiflash.html , ...).

Images[edit]

More information[edit]

  • The alignment of house and food system can be determined with info from following document:

General room orientation in house construction-document

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_farming

  • Vertical Farm-project by Mr. Despommier

http://verticalfarm.com/

  • BioTecture's Earth Ships (provides an impression for my altered system)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship http://www.earthship.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=14

  • Raymond Ip's Vertical farm design (see also my general model on room orientation for more info)

http://www.verticalfarm.com/images/design/ip/Waimond_Ip.pdf

  • geWOONboot-team

http://www.gewoonboot.nl/totalframeset.htm

  • Log Id's plant-home

http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/faculty_projects/terri/ds/LogID_BWG_Building.PDF

  • Companies to aid in set up food production system

http://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/ http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/users/index.cfm?act=default.page&level=11&page=783

  • Meat analogues as example for primary crop

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meat_substitutes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochemical_engineering#The_bioreactor http://ecls.esa.int/ecls/?p=melissa

  • Regular composting

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting

  • Vermicomposting

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermicompost

  • Mushroom composting (perhaps usable for composting the vegatble compost). May be especially useful if mushrooms (eg Shii-take) are to be grown within the system. Perhaps not sturdy enough dough (easy risk at failure system) to use.

http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/3768825/Main/3768324/

  • Bokashi recycling system (makes instant compost tea; very efficient)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Organic-feriliser-from-kitchen-refuse/ http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/06/bokashi_compost_1.php

  • Rice cookers and food steamers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_cooker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_steamer

  • Koppert Cress abiotic substrate growing for plants

http://www.koppertcress.com/index.php?PageID=970 http://www.koppertcress.nl/images/private/Verpakkingen_UK.pdf

  • Usable saline crops for aquatic system

http://www.west-vlaanderen.be/upload/povlt/PDF/PERS%20en%20NIEUWS/2007/studiedag-aquacultuur/8_zilteteelten.pdf

  • Improvement Centre Bleiswijk conducting tomato/tilapia growing (Proeftuin Aquacultuur’)

http://www.improvementcentre.com/english/Frameset%20Afdelingen.htm

  • Integral Urban House' Urban Gardening. The systems noted are stated to be able to be integrated into small buildings. May also be used to decrease work to 15mins

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes/1976-11-01/The-Integral-Urban-House.aspx?page=2

  • Other books on decreasing costs and making the system more efficient:
    • City People's Book of Raising Food by Helga Olkowski

Solar Gardening: Growing Vegetables Year-Round the American Intensive Way by Leandre Poisson and Gretchen Vogel Poisson (see http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Gardening-Vegetables-Year-Round-Independent/dp/0930031695)

  • Additional crops that can be used to substitite the diet

http://www.lifepositive.com/body/holistic-recipes/recipes.html

    • Leander and Gretchen Poisson's increased efficiency/low-cost gardening

http://www.cfamilyresources.com/products/books/solar_gardening.htm

    • The time Saving Garden by Reader's Digest
    • Other cost-decreasing solar techniques (diy heat store), portraied and build in practice by the New House Farm's "It's not easy being green"-team

This heat store can be used to heat the greenhouse-part of the food system (if this is to be used/possible), or (eg with the ships mentioned), heat other rooms used in the food production system and/or structures themselves http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=99374&sid=fe9009cedff17d83534b3d9d6dae4a29 http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/general-chitchat/its-not-easy-being-green_5930.html http://forum.caithness.org/archive/index.php/t-22978.html http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/general-chitchat/its-not-easy-being-green_5930.html#post83959 http://forum.caithness.org/archive/index.php/t-22978.html

  • Zonneterp

http://www.zonneterp.nl/english/index_uk.html

  • Recommended reading to understand some proposals
    • "The Anti-Aging Plan: Strategies and Recipes for extending your Healthy years by Lisa and Roy Walford", in particular chapter 9 (superchargers) and appendix B (p291).
    • "The Okinawa-program: Learn the secrets to healthy longevity by Willcox, Willcox and Suzuki" (in particular chapter 5 and 6 about special herbs and foods used in the orient/Okinawa)
    • "Eat to live by Joel Fuhrman"
    • "Superfoods and/or superfoods healthstyle by Stephen G Pratt and Cathy Matthews" (for other general info on which the foods are to be chosen, depending on contents). Perhaps that
    • "The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health" by T. Colin Campbell and The Super Foods book by Kristin Gerstley may also be worthwhile to read, yet they may not be necessairy to understand how I would set-up the system.
  1. Using soy 1
  2. http://assets.panda.org/.../managingthesoyboomenglish_nbvt.pdf Yield soy = 1-2,5 ton/ha
  3. 100 grams of tofu = 76-112 kcal (average: 100)
  4. http://www.soymilkquick.com/okara.php Okara: 77kcal/100grams]
  5. 1 kg of soybeans makes ? grams of tofu + ? grams of okara]