I did it. I bought a frickin dump truck. Its BIG. Its red. And it will tow over 10,000#’s… with another 3000#’s in the dump bed. Its a beast.
I’ve been talking all winter about the fact that I am Scaling Up this year. Harvests and Compost will no longer be measured in pounds and yards, but TONS. The business and fertility plans call for 20 tons of compost this year. That is 40,000#’s and beyond the limits of my utility trailer and pitchfork. To increase the amount of good that I wish to do, I need to mechanize. 2 years ago that meant a Grillo. The Year of the Tiger calls for something a bit more drastic – this is the first salvo.
First off, let me make something clear. I bought this truck cooperatively. That means a buddy of mine and I bought it halvesies. We are not sure about all the ins and outs of that yet, but it will be titled in both our names and jointly insured. It is a leap of trust. It is an investment in community. It is the kind of thing that people don’t do anymore, but a manner of living that I deeply believe we need to relearn. Dump trucks are like many wicked useful tools. When you need one … you REALLY need one. And then it will sit for awhile until you need it again which is a waste. My partner has a 30 acre farm and is converting it to a Permaculture Sanctuary full of Do Goodery. Doubling the top soil on 30 acres means you need ALOT of organic matter. Much will be grown on site, but with multiple horse and natural dairy farms nearby this truck will help his family jump start their healing of the land. But, like many of us, he still has a day job, meaning that the truck will sit idle much of the week. I have BIG plans for a truck like this. AND I also happen to be off during the week when the truck is idle. Neither of us really wanted to spend the full $4000 a well used dump like this costs. Hence the dual titling. Will it be easy? No – there will be conflicts over use, repairs, etc. …but EASY got us into this societal mess. There is more to Being the Change than planting potatoes in sheet mulch. I want my kids to grow up in a world where property lines are blurred somewhat – where sharing is a community value and joint ventures are more common than sole proprietorships. Where what is mine is yours if you need it, because I know that what’s yours is mine in a pinch. We’ve got each other’s back. Its scary, but its also wicked cool. I am very grateful of his trust.
This truck will hold 8 cubic yards of mulch or over 2 tons of manure or restaurant waste. It will tow a chipper large enough to eat 4″ willow trunks all the live long day. It is inexpensive when considering the ROI and is all but fully depreciated given its current price of $3500. Its engine is a Chevy 350 V-8, one of the more common in existence and its not fancy – you want air you crank the window, buddy. As we power down this vehicle could be in use for decades to come in a salvage economy. As a gasoline engine- it can run on syngas, propane, NG, methane, ethanol, or gasoline with little modification. If the EFI goes, we may consider retrofitting a carb just to ease fuel conversions. Dang useful.
This blog was founded almost 4 years ago as I worked to heal the land of my .5 acre HOA lot. I have learned so very much in the past 4 years of reading, writing, and discussing the issues with you all. I have acquired skills. I have surrounded myself with an insane network of incredibly skilled, knowledgeable and connected people. And I have now found myself at a point where I can push a paradigm a bit into a direction in I feel is vital. Over the past 4 decades we have relearned how to garden organically. More importantly we have learned how to heal land damaged by 6 decades of industrial abuse. We also know that the problems are so much bigger than our forefathers in the Back to Land movement could have ever imagined. No longer is it enough to grow local organic food – now we must literally think about carbon sequestration and energy production in conjunction with food farming. This century calls for Energy Farms.
Farmers, not tractor drivers, but real hands in the soil farmers know natural systems better than any scientist. They are generalists with keen senses of observation, economy, and a work ethic to get it all done. And it is these farmers that will play a pivotal role in connecting the dots to a more sustainable future. That knowledge of natural systems will prove essential as we transition from rigid, linear solutions to fluid, organic solutions to life’s eternal struggles for Food, Shelter, and Energy. Permaculture gives us many of the tools to help design this methodology, but my grandfather didn’t need a fancy word for what he called common sense. And Energy Farms make ALOT of common sense. Essentially I am asking farmers to function stack their parcels – to turn the ethanol debate on its head and produce Food AND Fuel in addition to resources like soil amendments, services like carbon sequestration, and to create skilled jobs. On farm.
I have talked through my version of positive feedback loops starting with a biomass gasifier providing the heat and power for methane, aquaponics, 4 season harvesting, ethanol production, and carbon sequestration in biochar. This system partners beautifully with large scale organic waste recycling using hot composting, vermiculture and mushroom beds allowing the produce and coppice fields to be even more productive. As the tons of produce leave the farm, even more organic matter is back hauled on site to be converted to fuel, food, and resources effeciently with some of the surplus leaving the farm to continue the healing elsewhere. Waste begins to refer less to things like plastic bags and more to a loss of potential or poor design. Cradle to Grave produce planning is possible. We are now running an Energy Farm.
There are several Energy Farms being started in some scale or another thanks in large part to work by the Post Carbon Institute over the past several years and now being continued by Michael Bomford, PCI Fellow. I will be working within my network to do my best to have one going here in Southern WI with in the next year. This Dump Truck is the first BIG step (its got a 12′ bed for cripes sake!) in that direction. 3000 sq ft greenhouses, manure spreaders, skid steers, ethanol stills (the dump gets 8mpg) and 20kw generators powered by methane are in my future.
Be the Change!