Outdoor Sink Makes Water Recycling Simple

This is my new outdoor sink. I found the cast iron sink on the side of the road in Pomona and gleefully dragged the heavy beast several hundred yards to my car. I had a frame built for it out of scrap wood lying around the yard, the faucet and pipes came from another discarded sink, and we hooked it up to the hose outlet. It drains into a simple 5 gallon bucket which I can then pour out into the nearby landscape. It is super simple grey water. Now instead of going inside to wash my hands or rinse produce from the garden, I can use the outdoor sink and easily recycle my water. Plus, there is less dirt and compost in my kitchen sink. This is the kind of so-simple-its-brilliant stuff I just love. While I would like my entire house to have a greywater system, that isn’t really feasible at this time. The house is old and the pipes are very difficult, perhaps impossible, to access. So we are starting with the sink and soon we are doing a simple greywater system from the washing machine as part of our Summer Workshop Series. Every drop counts so we have to start somewhere.

StoveTec’s Hot Rocket Stoves

StoveTec’s wood burning rocket stove on the left, charcoal and wood on the right.

A reader comment alerted me to a very cool product, the StoveTec Rocket Stove, offered by the “not-just-for-profit” wing of the Aprovecho Research Center. Profits from sales of the stoves benefit the Center’s research. StoveTec sells two rocket stoves, one for wood and the other for both wood and charcoal. While I haven’t tested one, the $37 to $40 price is a bargain.

Rocket stoves are a simple “appropriate” technology that burns small pieces of wood and charcoal efficiently. We’ve blogged about them before and even constructed our own out of a vent pipe and bricks. Instead of burning a log to cook you can use trimmings from trees, bushes and even agricultural waste. According to StoveTec,

“StoveTec Stoves, rocket stoves invented by Dr. Larry Winiarski, use 40-50% less fuel and reduce emissions by 40-75% while reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions an estimated 60% or 1-2 tons per year. These stoves are preferred over other improved cook stove and three stone fires by 95% of users in Uganda. High adoption and preference reported in India, South Africa, Ethiopia and Chile proves the stoves great versatility among many different users.”

Looks like they could find a nice home in North American as well. Do some pruning and then cook dinner. How about a rocket stove tailgate party?

The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

Local food is coming back to Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution is proud to be a part of a new group, the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA). Not in LA? Start your own UFA branch. City codes need to be changed everywhere! UFA activist Glen Dake posted the following notice on the Garden Council website:

Problem: In 1946, a Los Angeles municipal code known as the Truck Gardening Ordinance was written to allow the growing of vegetables in a residential (R1) zone for sale off-site.

What this means, however, is that it is prohibited for city dwellers in R1 zones to grow fruits, nuts, flowers or seedlings and sell them off-site – at local farmers’ markets for example.

Furthermore, no one at City Hall can agree on what Truck Gardening is.

We think it’s time for the City of Los Angeles to come into the 21st century and amend its municipal code to support the burgeoning urban farming movement. It’s time L.A. legalized urban farming in R1 zones as part of its commitment to greening our city.


On July 8th, 2009, Council President Eric Garcetti introduced a motion to explore allowing “the cultivation of flowers, fruits, nuts or vegetables defined as the product of any tree, vine or plant, and that these products be allowed for use on-site or sale off-site.”

A group known as Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles, has named this motion the Food & Flowers Freedom Act. We’re asking for your support so that City Hall will change the law quickly and let L.A. become a leading center for urban farmers.

Urban farming provides access to more local, organic, affordable, fresh and nutritious food. In this time of economic crisis and rising food prices, urban farming can help create green jobs and stimulate the growth of artisanal home-based businesses. Urban farmers help build community bonds and bring a truly local flavor to farmers’ markets.

Angelinos care deeply about buying local organic produce. What about flowers? According to the California Cut Flower Commission, 80% of the flowers we buy are imported from overseas. Imported flowers are not tested for pesticide residues. Let urban farmers meet the rising demand for fresh, organic flowers!

Urban farmers can meet the needs of people for more locally grown, sustainably raised, pesticide-free food and flowers. We have the climate; we have the space.


Please take a moment to support the Food & Flowers Freedom Act by writing to your Los Angeles City Councilmember. Tell her/him you want to support urban farming in Los Angeles. Tell her/him you want the Planning Department to expedite their work and propose ways to legalize urban farming in Los Angeles. Please cc Council President Eric Garcetti and send an email copy to Urban Farming Advocates – Los Angeles at [email protected]

To find out who is your local councilmember, go to this link: http://lacity.org/lacity/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

You can also support the food and flowers freedom act by putting the banner above on your blog or website and linking back to this post: http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2009/08/food-and-flowers-freedom-act.html. Thanks!

Chicken Goes to Hollywood

Homegrown Neighbor here.

On Thursday Mr. Homegrown and I escorted my chicken, Peckerella, to her first public appearance. Peckerella was there to assist author Terry Golson, who has written a wonderful children’s book called Tillie Lays An Egg. The book has adorable pictures of her flock and features the adventurous Tillie, who likes to lay her eggs everywhere except her nesting box.
Ms. Golson is currently in Los Angeles to share Tillie’s story with children and chicken aficionados of all ages. Since her chickens reside on the East Coast, Peckerella stepped in to play ambassador. ‘Pecky’ as she is often called, did a wonderful job and was very well behaved, allowing many children to pet her and sitting patiently during the book reading. Her next appearance will be at a reading of Tillie’s story at Chevalier’s books in Larchmont Village this Sunday, August 9th, from 11-1. If you are in the area please stop by and say hello. Peckerella loves to meet her adoring fans. Sorry, Chickenzilla doesn’t fit in the cat carrier so she won’t be able to make it.

Going Gray!

Got a nice note and some pics from Ben in Portland:

“I bought your book and it has become my mission manual. We own a house in Portland, OR, and I just today did my first project out of the book – routing the shower drain into the garden. It cost about $60 for all the pipe, glue, a 2” hole saw to drill through the wall, and a new drain kit (my old drain was decroded as crap). Our house is only 750 sq. ft. (plenty for me, my gf, and our 3 dogs), and luckily our bathroom is right next to the garden plot I’ve had for about 3 years now. We’ve got a ton of squash going, which as you know takes a good bit of water, so I thought our not-so-gray shower water would be much appreciated by the little yellow bastards. Another benefit is that we won’t have to deal with the recurring shower clogs which have been forcing us to use drano.

The drain setup was super simple from a plumbing perspective, so all I did was cut off the old drainpipe, replace the drain assembly, and route a new pipe out to the garden. It took three 22 degree couplers, one 4 foot and one 10 foot section of pipe. the pictures sort of show what the finished piping looks like. I know it looks like I had to rip through the floor to get to the drain, but that’s just because whoever installed our shower years ago did a terrible job.

I drilled holes every 6 inches or so in the pipe that goes out into the garden. I may need to cover them with mesh (I’d appreciate your advice here) and dig some trenches to route the water into the rest of the garden, but for now it’s working great!

Thanks for your wonderful book and website. I will send you more pictures as i do more projects!