Archive for the ‘Appropriate Tech’ Category:

The Ram Pump has been renovated!

Becky and Sara doing maintenance

water pumpOne of the major projects and work of the Appropriate Technology department this summer has been a much needed renovation of the famous Sunseed ram pump!

The ram pump is one of the best example of appropriate technology in Sunseed. It provides water to the village of Los Molinos from the acequia line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year without any electricity or wires. The only energy it requires is from the water pressure.

The ram pump has been in the village since the 1980s but it has not had a proper overhaul for years. This summer therefore there were some problems with breakdowns and much needed maintenance.

Our AT team rose to the challenge!

Becky and Sara doing maintenanceBecky and Sarah at the pump

DSC00039The pump needing some TLC

Second leak bad repair and overgrown drive pipeA leak in the pipe and also a very overgrown drive

DSC00017A rusted air vessel with holes

DSC000j08A broken pulse valve

The AT team set about making changes by buying a new air chamber and upgrading the pipe connectors. You can see the differences below.

Upgraded non-return valve2Coning tube end for better flowEmil our AT Coordinator coming the feed pipe connector tube end for a better flow.

The new air chamber

DSC00141DSC00142The results are now that we have increased the flow to the village by installing a non-return valve. The AT team are now preparing to put in a new upgraded drive pipe.

We are now also working on stone lining the pipe trench to stop vegetation and to keep the trench clear for easier maintenance. Here are Gillian, Natalie and Leonardo working on the stone lining.

Gillian stone-lining day 4c

Leonardo and Nathalie stone-lining day 2aLeonardo and Nathalie stone-lining day 2dA big thank you to all involved in the ram pump renovation of 2014!

A Low Impact Fridge at Sunseed


DSCF1858Sunseed has a low impact fridge!

This summer two French interns, Benjamin and Sylvain, joined us in the AT department. Their project was to design and experiment with a low impact fridge for Sunseed.

The fridge design that they worked with was called “refrigerateur gigogne” and it aims to conserve food longer and fresher without using electricity. Felix Trombe was the first to experiment with this model in 1962 in France. He demonstrated that it is possible to produce a cold space for food and drink that is simple and electricity bill free.

DSCF1859As it doesn´t use electricity, this fridge is perfectly suitable for an off grid area such as Sunseed.Only a few examples of constructions are available on the Internet and they do not include the storage of food, only the cooling process. Therefore the building of this fridge at Sunseed is very experimental.

DSCF1844The temperature is cold enough to keep the food fresh inside the fridge and it is important that the temperature doesn´t rise during the day. Therefore, the way of using the fridge is essential:

– Put the fridge outside during the night in a place without trees, buildings or anything that can be a mask and reflect the infra red into the fridge.

-Early in the morning (preferably before the rising of the sun)put the lid on the top and move it into a fresh place to keep the cold produced during the night.

DSCF1850DSCF1851Well done to Benjamin and Sylvain with their internship, and the maintenance team of Diego and Mirko.


Sunseed Annual Report 2013


IMG_1238Our Annual Report of 2013 is now online!

A big thank you to all volunteers and staff from last year.

Please go to our Annual Report 2013 page to take a look

Story of Rabbiya



Life at Sunseed – Rabbiya Naveed

rabbiya1At the first glimpse, Sunseed appears like a rather ordinary not-so-well maintained place. At Sunseed, we bake our own bread and jams, harvest our own crops, use seasonal fruits only, exploit the solar energy, use urinals and compost toilets, use organic products, recycle our waste, use limited Internet and say goodbye to a chemical-enriched life. For anyone, this package is a bit hard to digest initially. To be honest, I kept delaying using a compost toilet till my intestines gave up. I regret that.

However, in less than three days I had adapted to the lifestyle and started enjoying the tranquility of the place. Sunseed is located in the middle of mountains and caves, and has been blessed with a natural swimming pool which is an absolute delight during the summer. There is no such thing as ‘working’ at Sunseed. What we are assigned is our responsibility and what we do is what we owe to nature. All the staff members and volunteers live like a family in a community with the motto of minimizing the impact on the environment. Sustainability first! 

I can write a w2013-07-05 23.38.19hole journal about my experience at Sunseed and how little bits from every single day have taught me one thing or the other. At the Appropriate Technology Department, I have worked on a few projects like Fuel Gasifiers, Establishment of a Compost Toilet Light System, Maintenance of Solar Panels etc. I always had a strong inclination towards Sustainable Engineering and working on these projects has only strengthened my resolve and reinforced my belief that Engineering techniques can indeed push technological development further whilst staying within the shell of sustainability. I can’t help thinking that if such a lifestyle was implemented on a larger scale, global problems like energy crises could be tackled to a substantial extent.

Sunseed has taught me that every individual has his own niche in the environment and something unique to contribute to the world. It has taught me that writing and speaking about sustainability and environmental conservation is one thing, but taking a step to bring rabbiya6a real change is a completely different ball game. It has taught me to value nature and it’s products and has reinforced the tranquillity of the natural world in my mind. It has taught me that low impact living extends from our kitchens to our toilets and is perfectly viable. All in all, my experience at Sunseed has taught me how to minimise my carbon footprint without compromising on my comfort and ease. 

I already feel guilty by the thought of the lifestyle I used to have. I will always value the time I have spent at Sunseed and given an option, I would’t exchange it for any other opportunity. I would highly encourage everyone to spend some time of their lives dedicated to a similar cause. It will be an extremely vital experience to put things in perspective. I want to thank all the Coordiantors at Sunseed for their guidance and for making all the volunteers believe that ‘Yes, we can!’, all the volunteers who turned out to be amazing friends for the absolutely lovely time I have spent with them, and Chitto for being the best demonstrator one could have.  


KAÑA!!! biomass gasification cookstove. Construction and use video tutorial.

by Pako Ibáñez, Appropriate Technology Department at Sunseed

It is time to build a biomass gasification cookstove. With this tutorial you can do it in an easy and cheap way. You can adapt the instructions to the materials you have, or you can find or acquire. There is no overly critical parameter. If you make modifications and does not work 100%, adjust and modify to achieve better results experimentally.

The tutorial teaches us how to build a biomass gasifier cookstove called Kaña!!!, Version 1.0, and includes:

  • An explanatory text which lists the material necessary to perform it.
  • The needed tools list.
  • Assembly instructions.
  • A video recorded during the biomass gasification course I did in Sunseed which shows all the steps to follow.
  • The instructions for use.
  • A video about the success story of Lucia, who built the Lucificador and got the absolute record of burning time with a powerful flame for 35 minutes using 350 gr. of dry cane.
  • A section with miscellaneous information.

Construcción de hornillo de gasificación de biomasa para cocinar. Building a biomass gasifier cookstove.


From the Carob Tree to the Carob Cake!

This is the first Sunseed Video News!
1) Harvesting carob
2) Drying carob
3) Making powder
4) Baking Cake with Biomass Gasification Stove

Biomass gasification biomass course

On 28-29 September was performed the course about Biomass gasification cookstoves.

The four participants built their own gasifier with a perfect result.

During the course, was shot a video tutorial to make it easy for other people do at home the same.

Do you dare?

Lucia, a Sunseed volunteer, she dared. You can see it in this other video:

Appropriate Technology Dept. Sunseed activities September 2013

by Pako Ibáñez, Appropriate Technology Department coordinator at Sunseed.

This month we completed the pending projects.

The biomass cookstove base structure has been reinforced and has been transported to the main house where it will be used. We started to cook usually, demonstrating that whatever can use it, has a very simple operation and is very efficient. We’re burning cane and almond shells. In short will be prepared other fuels. 2 hours of heat, are easily obtained. The gasification is very good, and does not generate smoke, so can be used perfectly to the side of the house.

We also have built a structure to support the solar oven with turning wheels that allow to point towards the sun. The box has been coated with fiberglass to protect it from the elements and painted white, to reject the sun’s heat on the outside. At noon you reach 144 degrees celsius, allowing to cook many dishes perfectly.


Appropriate Technology Dept. Sunseed activities August 2013

by Pako Ibáñez, Appropriate Technology Department at Sunseed.
On August we have dealt with the consolidation of the two projects we have in place: the  biomass gasification cookstove and the solar oven. There have been many volunteers who participated, each making a small contribution or many hours of design, action, observation, correction and enthusiasm. Both projects are an example of appropriate technology, as we reuse materials and apply simple construction techniques. They are everyday tools for cooking using renewable energy and having, therefore, a low environmental impact.



Irinas Story at Sunseed


Por Irina, de Siberia- Rusia. Voluntaria a largo plazo desde el 1 de Abril 2013 hasta el 27 June 2013)

I came to Sunseed with no special reason. To be honest, I didn’t know where I was going to and what I was going to do there. Maybe that is why this place is so exclusive for me.


Here everything is quite different from what I am used to have – the food, working process, people, culture, attitude to life. I have been here for 3 months, and I don’t want to come back to my previous life anymore. Here I get all I need – experience, knowledge, freedom, friends, lots of emotions, an amazing mentor… I have done things that I thought I would never do. I am glad I have.


It is not just work, it is a contiuous process of learning. We are not bounded, we are allowed to make our own mistakes and learn from them. We are not scared of trying new things as we know that there is always a person who can help or teach you.

I am happy to work in the AT department with Paco who is one of the BEST people I have ever met in my life. I mean it. We are a real team, we are having fun reorganizing the workshop, making new shelves and benches, and playing ping-pong on the table we have built together. I enjoy working with Pako because his happiness and positive attitude to things makes my life better. Thank you, Sunseed, for Paco! Thank you, Paco, for being such a great person!

la foto

I see Sunseed as a place where you can learn and teach, get and share, work and rest. It’s a good place for practicing English and learning Spanish. That is the best place for changing your life for the best.

Now it’s summer.The weather is wonderful, the sun is shining, birds are singing. The air is clean. A pond is 3 minutes walking from the house. What else do you need to be happy?