Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Micro-Hydro for the Global Farm

During a visit in May by ECHO's President/CEO, Stan Doerr, he requested that we purchase a few micro-hydro generators from a shop in Chiang Mai to demonstrate at ECHO's Global Farm as well as to take to ECHO's East Africa Impact Center in Arusha, Tanzania.  The shop sells various sizes of units with the capacity to generate electricity of 600 watts and higher.  I bought three of the 1 kw units.
One type of generator has a three-inch intake pipe to accommodate an adequate volume of water (5-8 liters/second) with a minimum drop of 5 meters required to spin the turbine. The second type of unit has a shaft with a rotor extending from the turbine.  These units are designed to be installed in penstocks in which water drops vertically between 6-10 ft. (1.8 m – 3.1 m); the required degree of drop will depend on the generating capacity of each turbine.  To accomplish this, an adequate flow of water must be directed via a channel into a properly designed penstock in which a vortex is created that will cause the rotor to spin.
In June we hauled all three generators to the ECHO Global Farm in Ft. Myers, Florida.  Upon arrival, ECHO's Appropriate Technology Intern, Craig Bielema, worked many hours to set up one of the generators in a suitable location for demonstration.

An ECHO Asia document called "Micro-Hydro in Myanmar and Thailand" that introduces the concept of such practical technology can be downloaded as a PDF from this site: http://www.echocommunity.org/resource/collection/F6FFA3BF-02EF-4FE3-B180-F391C063E31A/Micro-Hydro_in_Myanmar_and_Thailand.pdf

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crops from Chiang Mai Off to a Great Start in Fort Myers

Tim, Andy and Marcie with the white thorn rattan seedlings
ECHO, International is located at the ECHO Global Farm in Ft. Myers, Florida. This 50-acre farm demonstrates practical ideas for growing food under difficult conditions in tropical climates to over 14,000 guests each year.  Many of the visitors are agricultural and community development workers serving the poor worldwide.

Vegetable taro seedlings
Hundreds of different crops are grown at ECHO's Global Farm, including tropical fruit trees, grains, oil crops and vegetables; many of which are underutilized and/or challenging to locate.

In May, ECHO intern, Kimberly Duncan, and I prepared a shipment of unique Asian crops for the Global Farm.  A box full of propagatable plant materials (cuttings and bulbs) of vegetable fern (Diplazium esculentum), vegetable taro (Colocasia esculenta), snowflake tree (Trevesia palmata) and leaf pepper (Piper sarmentosum) as well as seeds of Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) was sent from Chiang Mai to Ft. Myers via express mail.  Of course, the plant materials were inspected and certified by phytosanitary officials both in Chiang Mai and Miami.
Ellen with vegetable fern, snowflake tree and leaf pepper seedlings
Visiting the Global Farm in July and anxious to see how the recently arrived plants were faring, I was delighted to find that each crop had not only survived the trip, but had been expertly "stuck" and/or planted by the Global Farm staff.  Healthy white thorn rattan seedlings (Calamus viminalis) growing from seed that we sent from Chiang Mai two year ago were also growing in the nursery.

Hopefully, these crops will continue to thrive at the Global Farm, serving not only as teaching tools but sources of nutrition there as well.
Job's tears seedlings ready to be transplanted into one of the field plots