Water and Renewable Energy

With everything going on with the #NoDAPL movement (Sunday’s treatment was appalling. To help or donate supplies, click here.), it is very important for humanity to really look at the value of water in our world. We have a drought in California, with 102 million trees dead within the last 3 months, due largely to the 5 year drought. Yet, we have a President Elect who refuses to acknowledge any of this. If the people cannot rely on their government to give them solutions to global problems, then it is up to innovative businesses to do so (I’m looking at you, Elon Musk).

So much new technology is arriving daily, and I feel lucky to live in an area of the country where businesses are focused on being socially and environmentally just. In my previous post on designing ecologically, I state that one of the precepts of ecological design is to use renewable energy. It is now more important than ever for consumers in the United States to pay attention to how their energy is produced. If we the people choose to support businesses who produce this clean energy technology, then there will be a continued market trend toward that technology (supply and demand, right?), and we will not need our government to make this trend happen. Another extremely important piece of the conversation is the conservation of water. Right now, many households in the US have the luxury of having this incredibly valuable resource available to their sink, for free. We often take our water for granted when we have it, but the moment we no longer have it, we realize its value. On the other side of that, there are also many households without water, or without drinkable water. The #NoDAPL movement is but a shadow of things to come if we do not both focus on renewable energy models, and if we don’t reevaluate how we view our water.

“But Rebecca, your blog is about growing plants, homesteading, why is this relevant?”

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As a gardener and a homesteader and a hydroponic grower, water and power are things I think about constantly. Living in New England occasionally means that I am without power, sometimes even when it is 86 degrees and sunny. In situations like that, I wonder how I would water my animals, when I can’t use my well. How will I water my hydroponic plants when I have no power? Would I be able to offset some of my expenses by installing a solar array, panels, or purchasing solar credits from an offsite producer? How do I conserve my water in times of drought (which, believe it or not, does happen even in wet Vermont)?

Low water use and the ability to run on clean energy is on of the things I really love about growing hydroponically. In addition to not contributing to agricultural runoff, and worrying about nutrient overload in my pond, I can also grow using solar panels for my ebb and flow system, harnessing the energy of the sun not just in the PAR cycle. This summer, I intend to grow hydroponically directly out of my pond using solar panels, my Growers’ Gizmo, and built raised beds. I want to design and build a simulated flood plain, and research the best edible plants for that project. More to come on designing that, in a future post.

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