I am a Farmer!

“It’s true. The fantastic present and future of solar air heating systems rests on the shoulders of founding fathers like yourself and many other DIY solar enthusiasts, who spent decades diligently and arduously working away: experimenting, bravely designing, building, tearing down and then building again and again… You have made the next generations very proud.” –Meredith Williams

I recently wrote this in a comment thread on a popular solar air heater YouTube video.

And I meant it.

Meredith Builds and Installs solo, her own solar air heater! Operated by Okapi Fan Control Systems. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

(And she is currently working on building Three more, using a new design!)

 

I think there have been too many people who have scoffed at emerging technologies, alternative methods and new ideas for as long as humankind has existed. It takes a steady mind, but also a mind full of fire and spice, to pursue an idea when everyone around them is emitting negative thoughts and comments.

I don’t think we give the founding fathers (and mothers) of solar air heating enough credit. I can truly say that, thanks to them, Greenhill EnviroTechnologies was born.

Without the hundreds of YouTube videos out there, solar forum posts and threads, and the odd article in various publications, each showing his or her version of a solar heating device (mostly “his”, actually: there are only a few females talking about solar air heaters out there and I am one of them,) no progress could ever have been made.

 

Scientific breakthroughs rarely come from a single spark of insight, solely generated from within one person.

Scientific breakthroughs grow forth from internal ruminations over thousands of observations of the external world.

It takes a community to work together, whether they even realize they are working together at the time, for science to actually advance. Techniques, hypotheses, theories and ideas all need to be tested, retested, tried and trialed by many before they can ever become accepted by the masses as true, reasonable and incredibly useful. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we all blindly work together.

The solar air heating movement had its beginnings over four decades ago, but we all know that we and the rest of the Earth have been soaking up the sun, its heat and energy since the beginnings of time. So, really, it’s nothing new.

Fire in the sky! Okapi fan control systems for solar air heaters. Solar Furnaces. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

It shouldn’t be too shocking to learn that you can heat your home on frigid, sunny days just by using the power of the sun and some awesome technology.

Thank goodness for communities, both in the real world and now in the virtual world of the internet. It has allowed for tremendously widespread collaboration of ideas and support.

 Most importantly, thank goodness for the support!

When you are one person in a small community trying to do something innovative, combating the naysayers, closed-minded neighbors, name-calling and teasing, can be quite overwhelming. I am certain, that “lack of support” has killed many revolutionary ideas, over and over again, throughout history.

It takes a brave soul to move forward in fantastic new ways whilst being weighed down by skeptics and minds fearful of change.

I am extremely grateful I worked hard to adopt an open-mind and fearlessness in the early days of Julian’s research into solar air heaters.

“Sure,”  I thought, “building one for yourself is fine. It’s a cute hobby!”

I’ll admit I had many thoughts over the past few years that it should not be anything more than a hobby. I’ll admit I had thoughts of:

“What is this guy doing spending all his time working on these crazy solar heaters, circuit-boards, fans, programming and mad-scientist contraptions?”

“Why can’t he just go out and get a normal job like everyone else?!”

Julian Jameson, creator of Okapi Systems. Software and hardware Engineer, Mad Scientist, Brave, Innovative Soul. CEO of  Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian Jameson, creator of Okapi Systems. Software & Hardware Engineer, Mad Scientist, Brave, Innovative Soul. CEO of Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian is now working on finishing up the Android Mobile Okapi App.

Yes, the MS Windows version of the Okapi Viewer App is completed and already available, and so is the Solar Heater Output Calculator App! And they are awesome!

Okapi Viewer App. Solar Air Heater Analysis program. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

And soon, solar heat farmers will be able to walk around holding their touch-screen devices and assessing their solar heat harvests! They can and will assess from looking at the instant data on their screen how much they are harvesting, how efficient their solar heat harvesters are, how much they are not only helping themselves, but also helping others.

Eventually, this readily available, scientific tech-assessment tool will lead to more efficient solar air heaters, greater yields and many more solar heat harvesters being built and installed all around the chilly world.

Eager View... What does the future hold? Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian has done good work for us all and he is not stopping there.

This whole experience reminded me of my background, my upbringing, my own parents. They were private-school and Ivy-league University-educated, free-thinkers from the USA. They came from families with doctors, lawyers, teachers and business-owners. Then, they decided they wanted to “live off the land” and have a farm, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Oh, the naysaying was tremendous! The condemnation was horrific! The skeptics and critics were relentless!

“How can you waste your education and become a lowly farmer? You could have an amazing job in the city, you could teach, you could be a lawyer, you could be a doctor, you could work on Wall Street!”

“What kind of terrible childhood are you going to be giving to your kids? You are crazy!

And…

“Who do you think you are, you damn Yankees! You dirty Americans! You come here with your fancy degrees and decide you can farm our land!”

“You do not belong here!”

But I had special parents. They stood up tall and proclaimed:

“In fact, to farm, it takes a tremendous breadth of knowledge and no farmer should ever be considered ‘lowly’!”

They went back to the land and thank goodness they did! My childhood rocked! I learned and practised animal husbandry from the beginning. I knew general anatomy (inside and out) of cows, cats and chickens, how the internal organs looked and worked, how reproduction occurred, all by the time I started school. I could rope and catch a calf solo and fend off the charging mother cow by the time I hit double digits. I learned to count as a toddler by bringing in pieces of wood, one at a time, to feed the fire that kept our farmhouse warm and cosy.

Our farming Neighborhood. Wind farming, solar heat farming, strawberries, chickens, cattle, horses, pigs, goats... Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Most importantly, I learned that being different, being of American background (even though I was born in Canada,) a weird foreigner among others in our Canadian community who had been here for many generations, was not easy. In fact, I grew up surrounded by naysaying, teasing, rejection and relentless skepticism. It only taught me to work harder, to pursue my own ideas and thoughts, to carve my own paths. It taught me to persevere while swimming through a murky sea of shunning, judgement, negativity and pain.

When anyone manages to swim through such a treacherous sea in life, it often can lead to an existence of immense fulfillment.

Now, all those lessons learned from my parents, learned through my tough, hardworking farmkid childhood, my teenage years of extreme academia and sports and a young adulthood full of medical struggles, pain and suffering, have been very useful! They gave me the courage to support and work with Julian as he developed these innovative fan control systems. These lessons-learned gave me the strength to create our clean-tech start-up for a niche, but growing market, from scratch. These lessons-learned have led to a great first year of gaining internet awareness, customer confidence and contacts around the globe, all interested in the present and future technologies of solar air heating.

It has been trying, sometimes terrifying, but very worth it.

We really have a business, now: a fledgling about to soar!

The Eagle that watches over Julian's office. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

And I am feeling very tired after another full day’s work. Yet, it is all worth it. It makes me feel rooted to our soil, connected to my ancestors: I am giving honor to them by trying and working my hardest towards something good for humanity. I also feel connected to the future: I will be leaving behind something of value.

How Green are your Footprints? Giving back to the community, giving back to the Earth. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

I am giving back to the community every day and my existence finally feels justified.

Farming can come in many forms, and I feel I have grown up to carry on the family farm, in essence. I bring in a huge solar heat harvest on every cold, sunny day; and I work directly with other farmers, to encourage, help and support them in bringing in their harvests, too.

Solar heat farming is a nice occupation: bright, cheery, warming and never-ending.

I am very proud to call myself a farmer.

DIYwoman. A solar heat farmer. Drawing by Meredith Williams, MDW.

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Major Tech-Communication Innovation for Solar Air Heaters

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Sept.1, 2014, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Major Tech-Communication Innovation for Solar Air Heaters

Okapi Bluetooth: the Solar Air Heater Control System. Kickstarter Project, 2014. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Okapi Systems are intelligent, variable speed fan control systems for solar air heaters, created and manufactured by Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Through quite a visually enticing Kickstarter Project, this creative, clean-tech company has just released their new Okapi model upgrade: “Okapi Bluetooth: the Solar Air Heater Control System”.

You can learn more about this exciting and fun innovation here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2107309041/okapi-bluetooth-the-solar-air-heater-control-syste

The Okapi Fan Control System product line is positively a “disruptive innovation” for the world of solar space-heating. The very first of its kind, Okapi is able to pump solar heated air out near floor level, with multiple temperature sensors, using programmed microcontroller units that intelligently and autonomously control variable-speed fans. They are patent-pending in North America.

“Okapi Bluetooth” now enables the user to see Inlet, Outlet, Ambient Temperatures and Fan Speeds via any Android device through their new “Okapi Manager App”. A Bluetooth-enabled PC or Mac can be used to log this data over minutes, hours, days or weeks, then graph and analyse it.

Okapi Bluetooth: the solar air heater fan control system. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Finally, DIY enthusiasts can truly see and measure how well their solar air heaters are performing!

“Okapi Bluetooth” is Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.’s second Kickstarter Project and it already looks like it will be a successful one, like their first from 2013.

Highly active on many social media sites, Greenhill EnviroTechnologies is a fun company to follow, sharing visually empowering images and ideas, and always keeping you wondering: what are they working on next?

Finally, the science of solar heating is catching up with the technology of the 21st Century and

“Okapi Bluetooth” is leading the race by miles.

Okapi 2 Bluetooth: the solar air heater control system. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

“Okapi Bluetooth” will definitely satisfy any DIY solar air heater builder’s constant nagging questions: “How hot is the air coming out now?” “How is this heater performing compared to that other one I built?” “How can I prove to my friends this thing really works?”

Visit their Kickstarter Project page today:

Maximize your solar heat harvest,

Minimize your heating bills

…and of course,

Make the Next Generation Proud!

Green Rainbow of Okapi Bluetooth Circuit Boards, ready for production. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Green Rainbow of Okapi Bluetooth Circuit Boards, Ready for Production.

Contact Details:

Meredith Williams, President

info@greenhillenvirotechnologies.com

902-301-1196

www.greenhillenvirotechnologies.com

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2107309041/okapi-bluetooth-the-solar-air-heater-control-syste

Our Living Family Heirloom

 

 

Spring has its delights.

The pussy willows beckon to be petted, fiddleheads curl me batty, spring-peepers drive Julian nuts

and songbirds serenade us all day long.

Spring can seem so incredible that it can be a wonder how we survived the winter.

Spring is also that time of the year for mother’s day, father’s day, reunions, weddings, births, birthdays, graduations and gatherings: an exhilarating season!

Yet, what I love most about spring, is watching my family heirloom start to blossom.

It lives in our bathroom: a warm, moist environment, perfect for her tropical roots. She gets plenty of eastern morning sunlight, and spends all winter tenaciously growing long tentacles, that once having reached the ceiling, then begin crawling across it.

Spring is all about nurturing the next generations and revering the past generations.

I am usually not one to dwell too dearly on things like dresses, blankets, photos, old plates, jewelery, watches and paintings, yet I do absolutely cherish these objects from my family’s past. I love imagining the people who came before me using and living with these objects and then deciding with deep gravity to pass them on to the next generation.

An heirloom, a thing that shackles a family history together, is a chain of love and care.

The most important living family heirloom, which I might cherish even more than this remarkable plant that lives in our bathroom, would be my chain of genetic code.

Your DNA can be a strange concept of an heirloom to grasp, unless you simply hold your own hand.

My family genetic code is full of wonderous and frightening things:

strange abilities in academics, the arts and athletics; perseverance and dedication in almost everything we attempt; outstanding levels of compassion and empathy; yet also with startling amounts of sadness and despair that have terminally gripped too many of us by the throat; and then there are those mysterious, incurable  diseases that have left a few of us with joint, skin, belly and neurological problems…

Our 100 yr-old “night-blooming Cereus” plant is our living family heirloom.

Our night-blooming Cereus has spanned up to 5 generations in our family. My great-great-grandma acquired it on her travels and handed down a cutting of it to her daughter. (Take a single fat, juicy leaf from a Cereus, stick it in some soil and soon you have your clone.) She then passed a cutting from her plant down to my Grandma. Grandma’s grew large and strong, also. She passed down a cutting from hers to my parents.

I received my cutting from my parents’ plant in my early twenties as a celebration of living semi-independently.

Receiving my piece of the family heirloom was a very precious milestone.

I stuck that leaf in the soil, added water, watched and waited. It has grown into the strongest looking Cereus plant I have seen so far: luscious and green, fat and juicy (as compared to my sister’s cutting, my parents’ and my grandma’s). I think it does so well because I have pruned it frequently or more likely, I have just been very, very lucky.

We often get 7-9 blossoms a year, which is quite a privilege when raising this tropical plant (even though it is always indoors) through the bitterly cold winters of Nova Scotia.

Growing up with my parents’ tentacled plant was fascinating. We got to stay up late on the nights it bloomed, celebrating, watching and smelling it unfold. But our old farm-house was chilly and well shaded by giant trees. Their plant only bloomed about 1-3  times a year, if we were lucky. Its leaves have always been a little narrow and pale.

So here it is: a little piece of my ancestry.

This was taken yesterday, the morning before the first blossom of 2014.

Then came another gorgeous, spring sunset, but my attention was elsewhere:

for as night falls, the Cereus opens.

It remains open all night, emitting an intense perfume that fills the house.

For a night-bloomer, it has an unusally pleasant odor: fruity and fresh, flowery and kind.

It creeps open into the early morning, hitting its maximum size just after midnight.

Everyone smiles and seems excited. My step-daughter swoons, the dogs are cheerful and relaxed. Julian then sleeps so deeply and peacefully, it is as if all is simply perfect in our world.

It makes me feel absolutely elated: full of tinglings of love, gratitude, exuberation and generous satisfaction.

The aroma could very easily be mildly intoxicating. Some say extracts from the plant and its fruit can cause mild hallucinations (we have yet to see ours make any fruit), and were once also used to treat heart conditions.

A relative of the dragon fruit, the Cereus, a type of cactus, also known as the “Queen of the Night”, is exotic and full of mystery.


By sunrise, it closes.

It is done, spent, exhausted and limp.

I imagine the whole plant is resting very deeply today, after such an energetic night.

The night the Cereus blossoms is always a monumental event:

it is a night to remember all who came before us and all who may come after us.


May we all leave a legacy of compassion and empathy:

one that smells sweet and clean,

that is beautiful to behold,

and most importantly,

 strong and enduring. 

And there are more to come this year!

Already, another bud is beginning to grow!

 

Kejimkujic Birthday

Image

I just celebrated my birthday last weekend. It was fantastic. We went to Kejimkujic National Park, in southern Nova Scotia and hiked 5 of their 10 short trails in one day. They were beautiful. Each one. No, I mean: each tree, each leaf, each rock, each stream, each river was beautiful. The fall season is by far my favorite. And every birthday I make it a point to get out for a hike.
I was like this as a kid with my birthdays too. I had a simple formatted request for every one: a walk in the woods and mom’s home-made dinner of fried-chicken, potato salad and pumpkin pie. She never failed at delivering this. I was so spoiled. Truly. How many millions of kids in North America get to go for a walk through the woods, and wander over old farmstead pastures for their birthday? Not many, I bet.
Some just don’t have that available to them. Too many are trapped by concrete.
This past week an article in the BBC news talked about the fact that many kids are too disconnected from nature. That they do not get enough exposure to it, and that there is a strange growing idea that nature is dirty and unpleasant. Stepping off the pavement is a strange and creepy thing to some kids. This is terrible. (“Just one in five children connected to nature, says study” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24532638)
So I write to encourage you and your family to get out for a hike. Get into the fields and woods and go explore! You can fear the dangers of scratches and bug-bites and tick-born illnesses, or you can fear being mugged and run over at a street-corner. But if you take the right precautions, none of these fears are legitimate.
Live a life with nature, and you will be happy. Live a life without nature, and you have not lived.