In Kelowna, British Columbia – we’re working on an awesome project to create Municipal Sustainability. Grocery prices are going through the roof, rent prices are out of control, and there are NO jobs – so instead of just complaining – we’re working our way towards a solution. (The first part of this story is in a YouTube video below).
Our Solution? The Municipal Sustainability Project – a program to create low cost, high quality food by building an ‘Up-Cycled’ farm that runs 365 days a year. A high capacity farm using old and new technology – and we’re going to be uploading videos showing everyone exactly how it’s done…. so stay tuned!
A farm is just like any business – it’s going to take a lot of resources and manpower to get things done. Fortunately – we live in Canada – and it seems like everyone has too much stuff. So – to solve one of our ‘resource’ problem, we’re turning to the public to make it happen. We also had to test out our Social Media Program – and it worked awesome!
This is the story of how we ‘crowd-sourced’ our resources, and an example of how easy it is to ‘Up-Cycle’ the future.
HOW TO BUILD A FREE FENCE
To build a free fence – we needed a plan
The first thing we did was make a list of what we needed, and checked off on the list all the things already had. Fortunately – we already have all the tools necessary to finish this project – so if you’re trying this out yourself, make sure you have a standard set of construction tools ready to go.
If you’re trying this at home – it’s very important to make sure you schedule the time you need to get your project done – and above all – set a date you’re going to be complete. When up-cycling at home it’s a really good idea to set the date you want to complete your tasks so they don’t drag on too long.
The second thing we did was go on-line and see what people had for free. We set a timetable of one month to get the resources together – and we did it in under three weeks.
IT CAME TOGETHER PRETTY FAST
In every city there’s things like Craig’s List, and other local web-sites that people advertise in. In Kelowna, it’s called ‘Castanet‘ – and there’s even a ‘Free’ section where people advertise a ton of stuff they want to get rid of. We also use Facebook quite a bit – since there’s a ton of stuff listed in a couple different ‘free’ sites, or really, really (almost free) affordable ‘garage sale’ type listings.
We where on Facebook to begin with – where we found someone in West Kelowna giving away the lumber from an old back deck. Next, on Castanet we found someone with some long 2×4’s leftover from rennovations – they also had some 1×1 trim, some miscelaneous screws and bolts, and l-brackets we would use later.
During our search – we did find over 80 feet of green chain link fence, and a chainlink gate that someone was selling for $20.00. We bought this while garage sailing…
…but later on, we found someone giving chain-link fencing away – so we could have gotten the whole fence for free… (and it might have been even taller) – but we didn’t need it – so we let it go.
Then, back on Castanet again, we found another pressure treated gate with two six foot pressure treated fence polls – completely for free.
Finally – a neighbour of ours just up the street was downsizing and advertising on Facebook – and he had about 20 cans of paint sitting around, so after a quick talk, he donated all the paint to us! That was very cool – and within the paint we found over six gallons of primer, exterior white paint, and even a cool, modern colour for the accents!
At home, our neighbour across the street was remodeling his front yard, putting in sustainable, low maintenance elements in his yard, and that meant he was getting rid of about three cubic yards of crush gravel – so instead of just dumping it into a hole – we took his pile of rocks, and put it to work.
Within our one month period – we had found for free enough resources in Kelowna British Columbia to build a 65 foot fence for our kids to have a little yard to play in… for free. We already had the tools, and a big box of Deck Screws we inherited, and the painting supplies – so it was time to get to work.
OKAY – GET TO WORK!
First I did a quick drawing, a plan for how to maximize all the resources we had. Then I figured out the exact dimensions, and double checked we had all the right stuff. I wanted to firm things up, and since we had some concrete kicking around – we set the gate posts for concrete so they would last.
For the other fence posts – we dug an extra eight inches deep so we could fill the holes with crushed gravel – so the bottoms of the fence posts wouldn’t rot. This was all reclaimed wood – so you have to take care of it.
The fence posts were put in, a trench was dug so we could sink the bottom of the chain link into the ground (that’s so little toddlers couldn’t try and escape by crawling under the fence).
Now – the area in front of the main gate was always a puddle of water, so we dug down, and filled a foundation area with more of the gravel. That didn’t solve the ‘puddle’ problem, we needed drainage for the puddle, so I dug a trench a little lower than the drainage area, and led it out under the fence to a natural water flow area. A Civil Engineering friend of mine suggested I look up a ‘French Ditch’… so the crowd was taking care of us again, giving us great information.
The ‘French Ditch’ was filled with gravel, and topped off with some ceramic leftovers from bathroom construction – to form a roof of sorts for the drainage rocks – and that was all covered with dirt.
With a little help from our Uncle, we set the posts and strapped together the posts and tops. It took about two weeks working evenings and weekends, but it was worth it. The final fence is kid proof, they won’t be getting caught trying to sneak under the fence, and they can’t pry the chain link off the back supports – since we screwed the fencing directly onto the wood with 10 lbs of screws we already had.
The top plate consisted of a board from the used deck, strapped together to a 2×4 – we made posts with 2×4’s strapped to 1×6’s (some fence pieces we recovered from the yard) which all made a structure that are strong enough to sit on – as proven at my birthday party…
And the really cool part was… we had just enough paint to give the entire fence a primer coat, and two coats of outdoor, awesome quality white and coloured paint, with pressure treated accents and a chain link gate for the back. If I would have been buying all these elements, I sure wouldn’t have ended up with such an expensive design – it’s even strong enough to hold flower boxes on top – so I would highly suggest anyone working on a limited (or non-existant) budget to think about trying this.
NOW WE HAVE VIDEO OF A FENCE… COVERED IN SNOW
This DIY Free Fence was made possibly by the generosity of my neighbours, and some very cool total strangers who really helped out. Now we have a place for an exhausted mom to be able to go out and get some fresh air in – when it’s not covered in a foot of snow.
And this summer – we hope to have video of the fence in action, but then again – we might be building something a little larger than a fence.
THE ENTIRE EXPERIMENT WAS A SUCCESS!
This whole effort was for two reasons.
One: To prove that we could build something big and expensive by crowd-sourcing the material
Two: To give Momma and two little boys a safe place to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
For the Municipal Sustainability project we know our entire farm can be built from local resources – donated by or funded by people like you. Even the most powerful and effective electric and biological generators can be made with up-cycled material. There are also many other plans on-line that we can experiment with, perfect and distribute throughout the valley.
Low-Tech resources creating high tech results is what we’re after – and we’ll get it. Just using a little common sense, and a little hard work. Building the future out of the recylcing of today is just our first step.