DIY (“do-it-yourself”) has become so well-known that we now simply use an acronym to talk about it in everyday conversation. With the proliferation of YouTube videos, cooking GIFs, and websites like Instructables, access to step-by-step guides for almost anything is right at our fingertips.
There are now communities, forums, and spaces where you can crowdsource answers to any problem. There are so many supports for getting an array of DIY projects going, that help no longer has to be limited to the few people around you. The hardest part is just figuring out what to search for or which instructions to follow.
If you search online for small, DIY solar energy systems, you will discover some great guides. People have made excellent portable systems for the outdoors, and some slick set-ups that will work in your living room. There is a lot of inspiration, as well as practical advice, available on piecing the components together.
Something is missing though. What exactly can you do with your solar energy system? How can you use it around the farm or garden?
When I built my first solar energy system for pumping water, half the battle was building the solar energy part, the other half was figuring out where to source the water from and how to deliver it to the plants. Unfortunately, this kind of information isn’t as readily accessible online.
While some people might be interested in the technology itself, most of us simply care about the work the energy system will do for us. As my green business professor used to say, people just want cold beer and hot showers — they don’t care how it happens.
So the DIY community is a great resource to have and learn from. However, there aren’t a lot of DIY communities out there applying solar energy technologies to growing food. I’m sure there are many people out there who can contribute to expanding this pool of knowledge— the big opportunity lies in bringing all of this knowledge together.
Much of the world could use simple, economical solutions that bring small-scale technology to local food growing. It could help millions of people go to school instead of having to work on the farm. And growing more food with less resources can also have a huge impact on our health and free time.
We’re doing our part by combining everything we know about building small solar energy systems, and how they can be used to grow food, into our online course Building Solar Energy Systems to Grow Your Food. Come join our community there — let’s tap into the great potential of solar together!