chanta at the stove

Garden Upgrade: Warm Hearth Warm Hearts

This is the first in a series where we will detail specific innovations we are practicing at the Garden of Eden.

Enduring the first pangs of a long and brutal winter, we turn our focus to the workhorse of the kitchen, the fireside forum of our family chats – our humble wood stove.

The hearth is the heart of the sun room and kitchen. Here’s ours:

wood stove baby
The stove in question.

Just a standard wood-burning stove. Immediately it is an upgrade over a gas furnace or electric heat, because it is cheaper and it is fueled by wood, a renewable resource. In most locales, wood is abundant. Considering that we only really need to use the stove for a few months out of the year, and even then only for part of the day, a few trees can power the stove for a long time. Of course there are many opportunities to buy wood, but with a small amount of creativity, anyone can get most, if not all, of their supply for free.*

cook stove
Carmelizing onions.

In December especially, we see the quasi-functionality of this apparatus. At a basic level, we burn wood for heat. In our house, the stove is not enough to heat all of the rooms, but instead of using space heaters (or leaving the gas oven on :), we supplement stove power with common sense. Usually the house is naturally comfortable enough during the warmest part of the day; during cool mornings and after nightfall, we spend time in the rooms closest to the stove. We wear hats and multiple layers of clothing inside and out-of-doors. We close the curtains to trap heat at night. As much as the surface area of the stove-top allows, we cook the day’s meal. Casseroles, lasagna, potatoes, soup, cookies, and water for tea, coffee, and washing dishes are all heated on this simple range. Within distance of the stove we dry clothes, baby nappies, seeds, and plants. Then we take the heat to bed with us. Around midnight the kettles, crock pots, skillet, and cookie sheets are replaced by dense, prismic rocks from the yard. These heat up in about 45 minutes and will keep the underside of the covers toasty warm for at least 10 hours.

As useful as our wood stove is, there are certainly ways we could improve its utility. The basic metal construction of the stove body allows it to heat up quickly, but fails at retaining that heat, meaning a lot of the energy is wasted. We could make this stove more efficient by adding a layer of dense, heat retaining material – like cob – as insulation. Adding cob as radiant mass would store heat for hours, even after the fire dies. We could also generate hot water by running it through a copper tube coiled around the stovepipe.

multi-function stove
Used for drying, cooking, and warmth.

Nothing is revolutionary about using a wood-burning stove for all these purposes! It’s similar to the way most heating has been accomplished since the dawn of man, or at least since Prometheus gave us his gift. Only in the past century has the work of the fireplace been outsourced to the thermostat, gas range, clothes dryer, and electric water heater. But by no means are we anti-technology – just in favor of its focused and efficient use! 

What is revolutionary is investing Consciousnesscoming up with Conscious solutions in your life. This means not being complacent with the creature comforts effortlessly afforded to us in an affluent society, not accepting that you have no control over how your energy is delivered and the way you use it. Recognize the value of the resources you are given. Honor them and let them work for you.

The GARDEN OF EDEN exists for this exact purpose. It is a free-Consciousness zone. As sustainable as we are, we don’t practice sustainability here; we practice Consciousness and it manifests in SELF-RELIANCE.

Warmth and Blessing.

snowy buddha
Snowy Buddha.

*If your house doesn’t already have a wood stove, I don’t necessarily advocate going out and buying one. In fact – you’re in luck! You can skip the purchase and get right to building a super efficient wood-burning rocket stove for free (details to come)!

A clarification:  we consider this a sustainable practice because all of the wood we use is saved or salvaged. The New Paradigm is based on a conscious perspective above all else, meaning the actual practice is flexible and will vary from locale to locale based on available resources; if everyone in Texas bought a wood stove tomorrow, the demand for fuel would outstrip its ready supply, quickly becoming very unsustainable. If all those Texans constructed their own super efficient radiant vessel rocket stoves tomorrow, the practice may still approach sustainability.

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