Living Off The Grid

Casting Calls!

A new casting call came in today:

Alaska Picture 4Magilla Entertainment is casting for an Alaskan off-the-grid reality show!

Have you ever dreamed of buying your own island in the remote and unforgiving Alaskan wild? Or … Have you been thinking about leaving your old life behind and moving to a self-sustaining community in the Alaskan wild?

If either of these situations sounds interesting, then Magilla Entertainment wants to hear from you! We’re developing a new show for a major cable network that may be able to turn your dream into a reality. For more information and to apply, please email us at:

karenjoneswdogteamPlease be sure to include your name, contact information, a picture of yourself and a short paragraph about why you’d be interested in a life-changing adventure like this.

Solar Food Dehydrators

The Elio food dryer

The Elio food dryer

This is another guest post by Ron Friedman. He is working on a great new product – solar food dehydrators – that I thought might be of interest to some of you yurt dwellers. Enjoy!


Solar powered food drying for gardeners, farmers and commercial scale food producers is coming to the US.

Claudio Menegatti, an Italian scientist, has been building solar powered food dehydrators for almost 15 years. He manufactures three different models from his backyard in Ferrara, Italy. The inspiration for the dryers came while he was working in Africa. He witnessed women from various villages walking miles to access firewood, and unsanitary food preparation, such as drying coffee beans on the ground or drying fish on dirty metal grates.

Women in Afghan markets

Women in Afghan markets

He began experimenting and developed these units that can run completely off the grid. The Elio is a convection heat model. The drying chamber has about 5 square feet of shelving and the patented solar panel supplies the heated and dried air for processing. Ideally, the maximum temperatures must be around 122 F. But the science of food drying is not that simple, especially when you are trying to do it without a source of electricity.

Bacterial colonies can grow if heat and moisture are not controlled. Menegatti has refined his solar panel to be so sensitive that it continues to move air through the chambers even at night. What he discovered was a biodynamic method that resulted in a totally different food preservation system.

His system takes advantage of lower temperatures and the higher air moisture content during the night hours. By using warm dry air during the day and cooler moist air at night, the process takes moisture out of fruits or vegetables, then rehydrates over and over resulting in a food product that retains color, vitamins, minerals, texture, and flavor better than any other dryer.

Samples of foods preserved with this technology have been tested after more than a year of preservation. The results have been studied and confirmed by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and other European agencies. The systems are now ready for mass production. We are hoping to have a pilot project with Cornell University’s Experimental farm this summer or fall in Geneva, NY.

The Zefiro and Zefiro Max are larger scale dryers.


The Zefiro has solar panels on the roof and sides and requires the use of preprogrammed automatic fans to maintain the proper temperatures.

The Zefiro Max or Tunnel is about 20 feet long. The entire roof is made up of Menegatti panels. Fans draw warm, dry air through the units during the day and cooler, moist air at night. Where electricity is available, the Zefiro only needs 50 watts of power, less than one 60 watt light bulb. The Zefiro Max requires 500 watts of electrical power.

But many of the villages Menegatti and his wife were familiar with did not have a reliable or cost effective power source. Solar panels that create electricity is a solution. Paired with the proper controls and batteries, the Menegatti dryers can now run totally off grid.

Zefiro Entry levelEcovidaglobal, a nonprofit that works with communities in the Americas, contacted me recently. They are gearing up to work with a village of about 100 families in a remote part of Honduras.

The people are subsistence farmers, who live miles from power sources and depend upon their agricultural skills to make a living. Not only do they grow food for themselves, but they barter their produce with other villages, transporting much of the harvest by mule or on their own backs. A large percentage of the food supply is spoiled before it reaches its destination.

Anne Usher from Ecovidaglobal sees a fantastic opportunity for this community drying and preserving food for their own use as well as for the business efforts. She also envisions an economic development opportunity where other groups will be able to license the technology from Menegatti to be able to build cost effective units themselves and sell them throughout the region.

This exact model is also being reviewed for funding by, a nonprofit serving another agrarian population in the Borgne, Haiti region.

We are working to create a manufacturing facility for the Elio here in Rochester, NY. We have a business plan in place and an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign in the works. We plan to build and ship the Elio as a do-it-yourself kit to users and a dealership network. A portion of the profits from sales will help to offset costs to NGO’s and nonprofits doing the kind of work described. We will also be able to ship the patented solar panels that drive these systems. Licensing agreements are being put in place.

Four Zefiro dryers, ready for shipping

Four Zefiro dryers, ready for shipping

Our website has just been launched. You can visit us at: Please contact me with any questions and feedback.

(This post is not a solicitation for investment.)

Ron Friedman
Skype: Ronjf1
(312) 857-3793

Call or email Ron if you’re interested in a free consultation about any of your sustainable living concerns, on or off the grid!

CASTING CALL: "Tiny House Masters" on TV

A Major Network TV Show Seeks People Who Are in the Beginning Stages of Planning and Building a Tiny House or Yurt


yurt-loft-stairsA major network and award-winning production company are seeking individuals and families nationwide that are planning on building and moving into a tiny house between March – June 2014.  A team of expert builders and designers led by a former Disney Imagineer who has designed projects for multiple A-list celebrities will create one-of-a-kind and fully functional layouts filled with custom features intended on maximizing tiny spaces and suit the unique needs of the client while also significantly increasing the value of the properties.

We are seeking people who are planning tiny house builds of all kinds (yurts, cabins, cottages, floating homes, container conversion homes, urban micro apartments, etc.) and will be downsizing and transitioning into the tiny house lifestyle for the first time. We are especially interested in anyone who has made progress in any of these departments: BLUEPRINTS, FOUNDATIONS, ZONING AND/OR BUILDING PERMITS, COMPLETED WELL/SEPTIC SYSTEMS OR ELECTRICAL WIRING. 

***Please note, all applicants should have an allotted, available budget and should be planning their build/move-in within the next five months (February – July 2014)


Interested individuals, couples and families should be located in the US and should have specific ideas and plans in place as it relates to their purchase and/or build. For inquiries or to apply, email the following information to name, location, renovation budget, information on who lives with you, why you want to live in a tiny home, and what you would like your space to look like. Additionally, please include photos of who lives in your home as well as contact information.

So If you are an individual or and family who is in the process of building or renovating a tiny home, yurt, house boat/floating house, micro apartment or converting shipping containers into a tiny house – THIS might be your 15 minutes of fame!


Let me know how I can assist with your tiny house project.

Until next time … stay warm, be healthy!



Casting Call for Living Off the Grid Documentary

Last week, Ally from the National Geographic Channel contacted us to see if we know any off-the-grid-ers who are interested in being featured in a new documentary they’re making! We’re so glad to see this topic getting this kind of coverage. The full casting call is listed below – please pass this on to your friends, especially those who are living off the land!

rainwater-collectionAre you living a subsistence lifestyle off grid or about to make the move?

The National Geographic Channel is casting a documentary that gives a raw and honest demonstration into the lives of people living beyond the end of the road in the Lower 48.

We are looking for active, rugged individuals, families, or groups, living off grid who are hunting/growing their own food, gathering their own fuel, hauling and purifying their drinking water, chopping down trees to stay warm, generating their own power and utilizing what they can from the land to build shelter. We are also interested in hearing from those who are about to make the move from the first time.

If you or someone you know is choosing to live remotely, far away from gas stations, shopping malls, highways, and everyday conveniences, and would like to share your experience with the National Geographic viewers, contact our research team:
Ally Siegel
(323) 785-8658

More Posts About Living Off The Grid