What about combining the benefits of installing a downdraft wood gasifier into a permaculture greenhouse to run in the mornings and evenings to generate light and heat? Would we not be using the summer sunlight stored in woody material to grow food all winter long in the temperate climate zones?
What is motivating me to pursue a permaculture greenhouse design is the vision of possibly creating a unit that would allow a family in the suburbs or city to grow the most commonly used vegetables 52 weeks a year for themselves and some of their neighbors in a small, well made permaculture greenhouse. If an individual or family could provide 12 of the most commonly eaten vegetables (cucumber, radish, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, tomato, etc...) to 20 of their neighbors as a CSA, charging them $50 a week, that would come to $1,000 a week.
The system could be well insulated with a massive heat-storage capacity using various forms of thermal mass. The necessary additional heat and lighting in the winter months could be supplied from a downdraft wood gasification unit and even large compost piles.
Jean Pain's 18 month woodchip compost pile and methane production. Part 1 and 2
Our friends up at Sustain Jefferson (Wisconsin) and their first operational wood gasifier.
Plans from FEMA for Building a Downdraft Wood Gasification Unit
And when a downdraft wood gasifier is cleaned out there is a generous amount of biochar left behind. What could we so this this biochar?
Article on Terra Preta (.pdf)
The bottom-line to this food production system in the temperate climate zone is that all heating and lighting could be theoretically provided by sunlight in the form of biomass (ie. wood chips) or direct radiation. Traditional farms could be replaced with food forests producing abundant food crops and the excess biomass, as the systems mature, could be harvested and converted to wood chips and methane gas.
Our farms would then be building topsoil instead of losing it while storing CO2 into the soil and plants (helping to minimize global warming).
What's not to like?
Here are some fun photos of woodgas autos used in the past.