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Solar SIP Micro Houses on Collaborative Farm

Organized by: Tim Kushner

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THE STORY:

Thank you for taking the time to read about our project. My name is Quentin Kushner, Im 35 and an IT Network Admin in PA. In the last 5 years, my friends and family have been contributing countless hours, running marathons and triathalons, planning and managing fund raisers, working with local civic organizations, donating money, serving on boards, writing letters for local and national charities in an effort to make our world a better place.

As have so many others, and I think we make a difference; a small difference, and that bothers me. Our greatest social, economic, political, and environmental issues are enduring. And this endurance has led to the question. Are these problems systemic?
I write this because we seem to be trying to mitigate issues that my parents struggled to resolve and their parents before them, which continue to escalate, despite our efforts to resolve them using our conventional and conservative approaches.

For example,

Homelessness, Unemployment, Inequality, Hunger, Poverty
Global Warming, Globalization, Consumerism, Pollution, Political Corruption,
Corporate Interest Vs. Social Responsibility, The Environment, Health, Human Rights, Workers Rights, Taxation

The issues can be overwhelming, and typically in my industry when we have large problems, our approach is to break them into smaller pieces and handle them with a methodical and linear way. Every once and a while, when looking at the big picture it makes sense to just blow away the machine and start over. With that in mind, I'd like to propose a blended holistic approach on a very small scale. One that requires a proactive solutions approach from the very beginning.

Can we just start from scratch amid the chaos and build a "better place" and can we do it small and grow it? Can we scale it up, show it to others,demonstrate the concepts, plucking the systems that simply work, make sense and are effective?

Can we do it on 10 acres? Can we make 10 acres a better place? A sustainable, natural, synergistic system that promotes life and creates abundance?

We are going to try.

Recently, I purchased 20 acres of land in central Pennsylvania, with the intent of creating an organic garden farm. A Collaborative Farm for a Collaborative Community.

Our goal is to create a Stable, Healthy, Sustainable, Open Environment that will create resources in abundance for the people that engage it.

Here's how:

Housing: We are going to build Zero Energy High Efficiency (SIP) micro houses, that run entirely on solar energy. They will receive water from wells, with a separate grey water disposal system, and composting toilets. Being between 500-600 square feet, we believe that we can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, as well as reduce the desire to accumulate un-needed clutter. We estimate it will cost about $17,000 to complete on of these tiny houses.

Food: Grow organic vegetables, using sustainable permaculture techniques and intensive raised bed gardening practices. We intend to leverage the synergistic aspects of natural systems including raising chickens for compost and eggs, mulched leaves, insect farms, honey bees, and small livestock, vertical farming and aquaponics to create food in abundance.

Reuse, Recycle, Re-purpose

Educate: Each Tiny house will include a laptop computer, with free wireless internet access to leverage site like Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware, MIT Video, TED, Research Channel, Big Think, Academic Earth, and EdX.

Onsite Classes on Permaculture, Aquponics, Basic mechanics, Basic Electronics, and Basic Programming

Our collaborative goal will be reduce or eliminate the work required to maintain the fly wheel of the sustainable system.

We are basically reducing the needs of the people who come to the farm and then meeting those needs with the resources on the farm. Asking for one or two hours of work from any resident each day. The amount of time, we spend watching television or going to the gym to provide the energy needed to refine the system. Freeing people to work their regular jobs, go back to school, learn and explore, build, create, and innovate.

Automation: By identifying the tasks which require monitoring and labor, and applying technology to those tasks, we can effectively automate those the farm. Electronic timers, wifi enabled smart devices, soaker hoses, drip irrigation, electric fencing, Arduino / garduino, plant monitors.

Tolerance, Respect, and Gratitude: With no religious underpinning, just the understanding that we are all connected, by at least the environment that we live in and share the same needs, people are free to come and go and learn.

We don't imagine to asked all the questions or to have a fraction of the answers, but we have an idea, one with lots of challenges and obstacles; but more importantly we have a beginning.

We need your help to build two tiny houses. One for be used by any volunteer working at the farm, that needs to stay the night and the other will be for a resident ex-homeless individual. Each at $17,000 a piece. This will buy a crawl space foundation, SIP panels walls and roof, aluminum roof and siding, composting toilet, electrical wiring, lights, two small sinks, and small shower. The houses will be constructed in Barn raising fashion by volunteers, led by a SIP certified and licensed construction company.

We plan on building 12 of these homes, and hope to expand on the whole sustainable collaborative community idea and adapt it to townhouse and housing developments.


“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Tim Kushner

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