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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The 90 day challenge

Submitted by Mathew Porter
Well, I was given this to start more than 90 days ago – beginning of this year - to create a site on the airfield with a wind turbine, a water filter and a mud hut for demonstration purposes.

I like this as a challenge. Most of it is right up my street – no, ALL of it is... I also decided to add in a medicinal garden (to include artemisia of course) – and a vegetable patch for good measure, surrounded by a living fence. This all sounds very ‘green’ as they call it now in the more developed nations. Normal (some may even say poor) in the less developed countries. I like to think it will combine renewable and sustainable energy solutions, with low cost affordable buildings, sustainable water solutions and permaculture principles combined with natural medicine. Bit more of a mouthful though. To say common sense solutions for the common man may be misconstrued…

We decided to use an area of the airfield that is away from the flying side of things, nearby current accommodation – so those living on site can help maintain and eat from the gardens and also so those who wish to can stay in the mud hut – and on an area of land that is fertile, on an old kraal site on the field. It also had to be far enough from flight paths for the wind turbine to go up 15 metres. Obviously big enough to contain all of the above, plus a little extra for any add-ons, such as solar dryers, refrigeration solutions etc.
So we paced out 100 feet by 140 feet, an area which was looking naturally fitting, and set Moses, our human tree stumper, on it. 3 days later, all the trees have been ripped out the ground, apart from one, central neem tree that looks like the sort of tree that one should sit under.

The area (at the moment) will be split into 4 sections – mud hut in one quadrant, water and power in another, medicinal garden in a shady/fertile quadrant, and vegetable garden in the final one. Now cleared, next step will be house and living fence to go up – fence will take a little while to establish; it will be a mixture of moringa and jatropha plants. I asked around the site for any competent mud builders, and one of the masons, Emmanuel (nicknamed Man-no-fear, for he tackles any job…) reckons we need two weeks for completion of walls – mud huts are built in layers, like the laying of courses of blocks or bricks, and each layer takes about three days to dry before you can lay on the next one. The size we are pegging out is 12feet x 12feet. Should be adequate. Also remember that mud huts are really only for sleeping in, as all jobs – washing, cleaning, cooking – are done outside!

So now, with all the stumps cleared up, the place is looking pretty neat and ready for marking out for the mud hut. So, pictures to follow very soon…and updates I hope to be very regular too!

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