The book that we have started to write is the first in a series of three. In short, it is a design manual for a complete food production system, including all details of construction and planning of a working model, as well as a full description of the input, output, integration, processing and products of each animal included in the web.
Food Web is a holistic approach to food, focusing on animal welfare, waste integration, water conservation, innovative feed systems, and profitability for small farmers. For more information on the general concept of Food Web, click here.
Volume I is based upon a working model of a diverse and integrated livestock system. The system centers around a 30 ft x 20 ft barn, pens, pasture, 7000 gallon water tank and rain catchment system. As for the barn and pasture's occupants, we have chosen species that have feed inputs that align with waste outputs of other species, thereby reducing costs and increasing the resilience of the revenue streams. For more information on the construction of the model, click here.
Through the book, we hope to provide people with all the knowledge necessary to duplicate or scale this system. As Food Web is modular by nature, people can pick and choose which animals they want to include, depending on the space and resources available to them.
We estimate the book to be about 250 pages of text, plus any relevant photos and diagrams. We hope to have it finished and ready to print later this year (2013).
Table of Contents
Section 1: Concept Introduction
- An outline of Holistic Management
- What is Food Web and why is it important?
Section 2: What are the different Web Nodes?
- Top Node, or Input, Species – How to choose your Input species and what they offer.
- Converter Species – What species can convert the output of the Top Node to the input of a Consumer, and how they do so.
- Consumer Species – Which animals can use the output of the other animals.
- Multi-taskers – Picking species that offer more than one usable product.
Section 3: What are the connections between the Nodes?
- A study of the flow of energy, food and connections.
- Optimizing the connections.
Section 4: Individual Species – how to breed, house and feed each species, as well as any special needs.
- Guinea Pigs
- Muscovy Ducks
- Black Soldier Flies
- Other Possibilities
Section 5: Plants - what plants are suitable food sources for your animals, their nutritional content and how to grow them.
Section 6: Products – how to butcher, process, preserve, store and sell all the products from each species (including ham and bacon, furs, dairy products, etc.).
Section 7: Infrastructure
- Construction of the barn, pens and pastures
- Construction of a water tank and rain catchment system
- Watering systems for each animal
- Feed Processing and Storage
We have been living off-grid for going on 12 years. To date, we've built two homesteads from scratch with our own hands and our own resources. These homesteads focus on sustainability, integrated systems, and open source documentation, to provide real world examples of how anyone can build a home, raise their food, and produce their own energy and water.
Our website is dedicated to documenting our experiences of living the modern pioneer lifestyle. We've been featured in press like Popular Science, Newsweek, Treehugger, Boing Boing, and Earth911. We are regular contributors to Make Magazine, with a focus on DIY articles related to homesteading and animal husbandry.
We've published a number of instructional articles over the last decade, from building a simple wind generator out of junk to creating beehives from accessible materials. The Food Web builds on these experiences and takes it a step further, beyond a simple how-to, to a design manual for a complete food production system.
Overview of Volume II & III
We will be adding to the intricacies of the basic Food Web model detailed in the first volume with Volumes II and III.
Phase two of the Food Web project will involve the construction of a greenhouse, fish tanks, mushrooms, gardens, orchards and beehives. This stage is designed to enhance and work with the animals of Volume I, although it can also stand alone.
The final stage of Food Web revolves around all steps required to produce, process and preserve the food needed by all animals, birds, fish and plants described in the first two volumes.
In the working model, all food will eventually be provided in and around the barn and greenhouse, reducing the cost of maintaining such a system. This will not only ensure the quality of the food given to each animal and plant, but it will also greatly reduce the business' expenses. With almost no money needed to feed the animals within this system, the individuals and communities who choose to make their own Food Web can sell their products to others at a much cheaper rate, benefiting everyone.
If you would like to preorder an advance copy of the book, please click here.