Stephen, of Solarmax Farm, wrote to me the other day describing the long-term, communal-style survival plan/idea he has. It was interesting enough, different enough, that I asked him to write a guest post on it. What he describes below is a newer, long-term prepper idea that I’m seeing more of. There is an interest in gathering like-minded people to live in a communal way. In a long-term, post-event situation, cooperating with others is key to survival.
Is this a good way to prepare? Living together, supporting each other. Or is it more akin to housing associations? Neighbors fighting over what everyone can/can’t do in their yard.
I don’t know.
– Ranger Man
OK, you’ve prepared for the first year after the “Event”, what ever situation occurred that will make you and your family bug out to your emergency survival camp or hideout. You’ll survive on the supply’s you collected and stored in preparation. You will be able to adapt to your new environment and your family will be safe for the next 12 months. But what are you going to do at the end of those 12 months? Have you prepared to live off the land, do you expect to return to the cities under darkness and cover to scavenge and collect more food and supplies?
Are you prepared to compete with others for the same resources, will you be willing to engage in combat if necessary? Even if you are able to resupply, will those supplies support you and your family while you work to create a farming system adaptable to your new location and capable of producing enough food for you and your family, let alone enough to trade with others? Will you be able to protect your supplies and survive if a group with more firepower than you decides that they are more deserving than you to live?
The truth is that if there is an “Event” bad enough to lead everyone to take flight in the first place, then it’s going to bad enough to kill off most of the initial survivors within the first years even if preparation have been taken. So unless you have taken action to support you, your family and your community long-term, and long-term means making preparations to rebuild and reintegrate people in large enough groups to support each other with a breeding population large enough to prevent interbreeding, you’re doomed any way.
Even if you do reintegrate you local population, have you made the necessary arrangements to support your “first level” supply production (first level being the ability to take your harvest and produce those goods services necessary to support life)? Examples are preparing livestock for trade or storage, preparing your harvest (saving enough viable seeds to continue planting new crops every year), manufacturing tools and equipment for use or trade that can be further worked to produce “level 2” finished products. Level 2 being goods and service supported by level 1 that are the tools and machines used to recreate communities.
Of course you can take all the free time you have in the first year to learn or relearn all those skills and put together the information your going to need, but doesn’t it makes more sense to do the work ahead of time and have everything prepared for the long-term? Solarmax Farm, and other facilities like it, represents that preparation.
My initial interest in off the grid living was sparked by the “Next Whole Earth Catalog” and my living situation at the time (home was Big Sur, CA.). I felt it was necessary to consider the long-term when approaching the problem of survival and so I began looking at the next step after surviving the initial event. What evolved design has become more involved with environmental and educational concerns in the last years, but the core of it was how to create a resource that would help jump start the return to a more stable society. To accomplish that I spent the next 20 years learning about, researching and experimenting with all aspect of agriculture and related disciplines (Tech knowledge, skills and tools)
What I came up with is a project called “Solarmax Farm”. Its designed to support up to 300 people, providing crops and livestock for up to 80% of their needs year round. It will be capable of growing more than 1000 different fruits, vegetable and fungus in soil, hydroponic and under artificial light. Able to raise up to 50 different kinds of livestock in pens, in fields, in a Food Forest or using Aquaculture and Aquaponics. A complete set of greenhouses will allow year round farming and provide controlled environments to grow crops from around the world.
After harvest it will be able to process crops as fresh, canned (metal cans and glass jars) or dried. Prepare Fruits and Vegetables for long term low temp or frozen storage. It will have the facilities to care for (Vet clinic), butcher and process fish, fowl, meat and milk (cheese). It includes a full size feed barn and crop support supplies storage.
It’s designed to produce bio diesel and ethanol fuel, collect Solar Thermal Energy (used for heating and electrical production) and direct sunlight (photovoltaic), harvest wind and collect rain (enough storage and by using water recycling system to be able to survive a 10 year drought). It has shops capable of maintaining farm and transportation equipment, to build and repair metal or wood construction and able to test, repair or build electronic equipment. The man with a working computer (protected prior to the event) will have a distinct advantage and a valuable information source.
It will have more than 700,000 cubic ft of long term storage space, including root cellars, refrigerators and freezers (40, 32 and 0 degree), under vacuum or under CO2 & Nitrogen atmospheres. Its water system is capable of storing up to 1 million gallons of water in tanks, pond and small lakes. It will be able to extract water directly from the air and provide heating and cooling using solar driven equipment. It includes both a health clinic and an operating lab (Organic & Bio Chemistry).
It will be able to produce small quantities of wine, beer and distilled alcohol (the same stills will be able to handle distilling of methanal, plant extracts). Its beehives will produce honey (resulting in plant pollination) & wax. Its ponds will be able to support a dozen species of fish, crustaceans and amphibians. It will be able to process hides (for leather and furs) and Ag reources into paper or cloth, produce blood and bone meal fertilizer and capable of processing up to 200 tons or more of compost per year.
Though not deliberately designed in the original conception, its design also offers security and protection from intruders with high ground observation and metal fencing. There are additional systems to provide protected communication and security. It’s capable of housing up to 50 adults and children.
Using both hard copy and digital storage its library will contain information necessary to recreate industrial and manufacturing processes, plans for building equipment that’s capable of recreating most of our current technologies (these tools are being developed by such groups as OSE.org [Open Source Ecology] and OSRliving.org) and complete copies of current educational & scientific knowledge, hardened against flooding, fire and EMP.
The project was designed with the intention of creating a place of Learning, Teaching and Training. The design philosophy was Organic Sustainable Permaculture but the rest of its capabilities came as a result of just putting the pieces together
You can find the design prototype at www.Solarmaxfarm.com This design is worked up for the Pacific northwest but it can be reworked for any environment location. It could be built after a disaster but several of its vital features would not be available for several years, it will work more successfully if it is built prior to the collapse or catastrophe, which is what I am trying to do. OSE.org is working on simple tools, attempting to help recreate tools to preserve our technology level but “Solarmax Farm” is a Super tool and it is intended to jump start a larger community by producing and processing Crops and Livestock in a first level production designed to support a local community.
If you have ideas or come across some new/old tech that you think could go towards making Solarmax Farm work even better, I’d sure like to hear them in the comments section below.
If you have any question or wish to inquire you can contact me at Stephen@solarmaxfarm.com. I am in the process of redsigning the web site to support more services (information and resource connections) so you may find it down for a few days around the middle of February and if so you can also reach me firstname.lastname@example.org if that happens.