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Food Production

With a diet consisting exclusively of raw vegan cuisine, food production can best be defined as growing fruits and vegetables with nuts and Spirulina (blue-green algae) to provide additional sources of nutrition, fat, and protein. Food production operations are unique in the Project TriStar community due to the 100% self-sustainable design and the combination of growing food both above ground and below ground.

Part of the Project TriStar initiative is preparing for environmental potentials that may make above ground food production risky or even impossible for periods of time. This is why the Project TriStar community is designed to be completely self-sustainable and grow 100% of its food within the subterranean facility. Until those potentials actually occur, food will continue to be produced above ground for as long as the environmental conditions are safe for human and plant life.

The Food Services Committee has been established to coordinate all food production and meal planning for the community. This includes: defining appropriate fruits and vegetables for production, determining the quantities of plants to be produced in relation to the number of community members, determine sustainable crops and their growing cycles, and the best growing methods for each plant species.

Food production activities begin along side of development operations at the community location and will continue throughout the construction phase and beyond. Starting these operations as soon as possible allows the community to transplant any mature fruit bearing trees and other food producing plants that take longer to mature or recover from transplanting.

The above ground production also provides the ability to develop and confirm a variety of growing concepts that are planned for the subterranean operations and provide food for the on-site development and construction staff. Long-term advantages include the ability to enhance the community diet by providing a wider range of fruits and vegetables sources and to help build up a store of reserves that might be helpful during any unusual or unexpected interruptions to subterranean food production.

Resources:

The most important factor in any food production plan is access to high quality and sustainable resources. With the Project TriStar raw vegan diet, this means the most basic resources of seeds, soil, water, and light. With these resources, the community can grow everything they need to achieve dietary sustainability.

The mineral and nutrition content of soil is different for most parts of the world. Depending on the community location, this can make growing plants either easy or difficult. It doesn’t take much to realize that attempting to grow plants in desert or beach sand creates unique challenges. This doesn’t mean the soil must be the dark black color that we associate as nutrient rich, but soil nutrition should be considered and measured before choosing a community location. Project TriStar has determined the soil nutritional content for the remote community location is very adequate for long-term sustainability.

Besides air, fresh water may be the single most important resource for human life, especially considering it makes up 75% of the human body. In the world today, fresh and clean water is vastly becoming a scarce resource. In many countries, the fresh water supplies have become contaminated from a combination of industrial pollution in the form of acid rain, ground seepage, and direct drainage; as well as overuse, treatment and recycling, and waste disposal. Use of contaminated water for growing crops can result in compromising the plant defenses from disease and other biological hazards. The Project TriStar water resources are high quality and of a quantity that supports long-term sustainability.

Collecting rain water is also an effective way to reduce the dependence on community main drinking supply. Rain water harvesting captures rainfall and stores this water in storage tanks that can be called upon for a variety of uses such as washing clothes, gardening, and toilets.

Seeds:

In the production of vegetation, the quality of the seeds determines the nutritional value and risks associated with consuming that vegetation. Project TriStar understands the importance of using only heirloom seeds in the production of all plants used for consumption.

By now, we’ve all heard the term GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) as related to the global production of both animals and plants that are produced for human consumption. The use of GMO seeds has grown exponentially in recent years as a result of a rapidly increasing human population; higher plant harvest needs to meet the human, livestock, and industrial demands; increases in plant and animal disease, epidemic, and insect related destruction; and a wide range of weather and environmental impacts.

Unfortunately the waste of natural and plant resources makes the use of GMO seeds virtually a requirement. Besides the associated impacts that GMO foods have on human health, one of the most tragic and unfortunate side affects of using GMO seeds is that seeds from the harvested plants are often sterile and are unable to be used to grow the next generation crop. Using GMO seeds requires the storage or purchase of new seed stock for every crop that is planted.

To Project TriStar, the choice to use only heirloom seeds is natural and harmonic towards the community goals and lifestyle. As such, the community has created an heirloom seed bank that contains an extensive assortment and volume of seed stocks.

Lighting:

We all know that light is essential for plants to grow into a harvestable crop. In the Project TriStar subterranean community, lighting takes on even greater importance.

Even though above ground food production will continue for as long as it is viable, the community has made a commitment to achieve 100% sustainability within the subterranean facility.

As with anything that is essential for the life and well being of the community, it’s important there is redundancy when it comes to supplying light for the production of food and the ability to operate in a subterranean environment in general. This means there is one primary lighting source with other lighting sources available as a backup if the primary source is no longer viable or available.

 

The Project TriStar community has many options to consider for lighting the subterranean facility including:  sun pipes that direct sunlight from the surface to below ground, solar collectors with fiber optic cables, standard electricity, and low voltage LED lighting.  As with any community system or subsystem that operates on electrical power, Project TriStar maintains the ability to generate this electricity by human labor in the form of bicycles, rowing machines, and treadmills.

Sun pipes provide a novel way of capturing natural sunlight and reflecting it inside a tube to channel it into darker areas. These units are mounted on the surface or where there is a line of sight to the sun, and can be used to provide a diffused source of free ambient light to dark rooms on any floor, including basements.

The Food Production Committee works closely with the Power Committee to determining the lighting needs for food production, the delivery options, and redundancy or backup options.

Plant diversity:

Diversity of plant production is considered essential to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Project TriStar community. In fact, it should be an essential consideration for any community.

Some of the considerations when choosing plant species and seeds for food production include: harvest volume, nutrition, risk of disease, sustainability, and pallet or taste. It’s only through careful consideration of all these factors that any community can expect to provide both the volume and nutritional needs of the community.

Since sustainability is the ultimate goal, it’s important to grow plants that are capable of surviving in environment of the chosen community location. Depending on how much the growing environment is manageable ultimately determines how important it is to choose appropriate or indigenous plants. In the case of the Project TriStar above ground food production, plants are chosen based on soil content, growing seasons, and climate. For the subterranean food production, plants are chosen based on lighting requirements and ease of pollination.

In both production areas, Project TriStar has chosen plants that allow for a balance between high nutrition content, growing in the least amount of space, and consuming the least amount of resources.

One goal of the Project TriStar community lifestyle is to live in harmony with natural and universal laws. As such, it is important that the human body is in harmony with itself. This also means that food production is in harmony with human consumption, as well as with nature. Ultimately, this can mean a combination of things including nutrition and palatability.

Project TriStar understands the challenges of a raw vegan diet and especially when transitioning from a diet of cooked foods and animal products. Project TriStar also believes that people feel and perform better when they eat foods that are highly nutritious and also taste good. As such, the selection of plant crops is also based on palatability of the plants once they are prepared for community consumption. Everyone knows that some foods are more palatable than others and even the best chef may not be able to change that.

For obvious reasons, the Project TriStar community has extensive access to members who have experience in the creation of raw vegan meals and recipes. The Food Services Committee will draw on this vast experience to ensure that plant production is in harmony with the ability to create nutritious and tasty meals for the community consumption.

Another consideration with diversity is to ensure the raw vegan diet includes enough fat and protein. To supply these nutritional requirements, the Project TriStar community has included the production of both nuts and algae (also known as Spirulina).

Growing methods:

Project TriStar will maintain above ground growing operations for as long as such operations are viable using primarily conventional soil and water growing techniques with some hydroponics. Below ground operations require more consideration, specifically related to space, resources, and being indoor.

In either case, all food production methods are designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly while implementing a variety of techniques that may include companion planting, bio-dynamic farming, organic, and permaculture.

Subterranean food production involves techniques that are suited to the specific environmental needs for the plants being grown. Part of the community architectural design includes the creation of different growing environments within the food production area. Some environments are one story high (approx 7’10” or 2.4m) while others areas are two stories high (14’ 8” or 4.8m). The one story area is for pre-production operations such as germination, as well as growing shrub, leafy, and root based fruits and vegetables. The two story area is provides a plantation style environment for growing larger shrubs and trees.

This design provides the greatest flexibility in the food production operations and also allows for individual habitats that can be mixed and matched with vegetation as appropriate. This type of distributed production also allows for separation between and within plant groups that can help to isolate any potential infestations that may occur.

Hydroponics or aquaponics are being considered for possible use in both above ground and below ground food production. The disadvantage of hydroponics is the need to infuse the water with trace minerals. This is generally accomplished through the use of prepackaged mineral supplements or the use of fish tanks to re-mineralize the water.

To Project TriStar, raising fish is just like raising any other type of livestock and is not a preferred operation within the community. In addition, the option of purchasing minerals to infuse into the water source is also not an option for a self-sustainable community. However, the Food Services Committee is reviewing all options for manufacturing the nutritional supplements within the community.

Ultimately, some form of hydroponics is necessary for the production of the nutritional and protein supplements spirulina and chlorella (blue-green algae). Project TriStar intends to produce large quantities of spirulina and chlorella in both the above ground and subterranean operations.

One of the keys to growing large quantities of vegetation in a confined area is proper use of space. To accomplish this goal, Project TriStar is utilizing a variety of techniques for vertical farming. Vertical farming helps to reduce waste on every level, but also provides many growing options that can be more efficient than the conventional concept of planting directly in the ground. With the proper application of soil, water, and lighting, vertical farming can even be more effective in space utilization and production output.

 

Other issues related to food production operations in the Project TriStar subterranean facility include: humidity control, mold and insect control, pollination, and dehydration methods for long-term storage. The Food Services Committee is working to provide adequate solutions to these and many more production related issues. This includes the use of companion planting as natural insect repellent, chemical-free methods of dealing with mold and other parasite, and solar dehydration units.

 

 

A majority of the plant production is designed to be eaten in the most fresh and nutritious form which generally means that the produce goes directly from the garden to the kitchen. Some produce is also dehydrated for use in raw breads and for storage.

Project TriStar understands the importance of the food production operations for the life and sustainability of the entire community. As such, several redundant and backup plans are in place to remedy any situation that threatens the food supply. This includes the separation and isolation of certain plant species from others, as well as the ability to replace a plant species that becomes infected or fails for any other reason. This may include replacing the failed plant species with a completely different species or changing growing techniques to accommodate any environment considerations. In other words, if any food production methods experience complications, it's also important to be able to convert those methods into something that is more stable.

Composting:

The concept of re-mineralizing soil or water in order to maintain or boost food production is not a new concept and there are a few common methods to accomplish this. Of course, one of the main benefits to maintaining livestock in a community is their continuous output of nutrient rich fertilizer. Another option and the one being applied within the Project TriStar community is the use of composting.

Composting is a very simple process turning unneeded and unused organic material back into a nutrient rich soil supplement. The best thing about creating compost is that it really doesn’t take any effort, only time.

With the large number of members and an exclusive raw vegan diet, the Project TriStar community generates a lot of organic material for composting. This means that composting operations are quite a bit larger than what most people are accustomed to seeing.

Since above ground operations are in the open air, there is no need for special consideration for the composting operations, however, for the subterranean facility, considerations include the odor and the potential for attracting rodent and pests. For this reasons, a special area has been established directly outside the subterranean structure, but still accessible from the food production area.

 

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