Wheat Town

Overview

In the times that we live in and the times that are coming, climate change, peak oil and economic woes will wreak havoc on many fronts. Climate change will cause crops worldwide to fail, peak oil will make easy energy scarce and these two will make the economy tank. What is proposed here is a new buildout that meets the basic needs of people and shields these people from the malevolent effects of the calamities modern society is facing. Using the Omega Garden Carousel this town would grow many of the foods that would help to sustain the townspeople, but would also grow a large amount of wheat to export out of the town to gain town revenue.

Introduction

The Wheat Town would be located near a major train trunk line so as to have an export route for the wheat that is grown. A spur from the trunk would go into the wheat depot which would be the last stop for wheat that is grown and processed in the town. Warehouse after warehouse would be built to the dimenions required by the Omega Garden Carousel. Some of these would be destined for wheat growth while others would be for growing the food that will be consumed by the towns people. In all other means possible the town would have as a goal to be as self sufficient as possible, and the chapters below explain how this can be.

Table of Contents

The Location

For the purposes of construction it would be very handy if this large multi-acre property was located near a road that would allow for transport of construction material and equipment to be made possible. Altenatively, if the property found is really only accessible by rail, a larger contract with the rail company would be required to move the equipment, materials and people to the worksite. In any case, the goal is to have the Wheat Town located in an area that is far removed from any existing urban area and is accessible within a reasonable distance of a main trunk line of a major railroad. The first phase of construction would be to build a spur line to have the railroad go right to the Wheat Town.

The Layout

The town center will have a large square in the center that forms the center where two roads would intersect. This entire square is enclosed, as are the streets that extend in all four directions for one 'block'. The street that ends closest to where the train station is would have an exit that goes to the train station to allow for people to get on and off the train en route to/from any point outside of the town. The other three street ends would be, at the outset, paths that lead off to infinity for future growth plans. At ground level, the buildings all around the central square will be reserved for commercial activities, such as hairdressers, food store, clothing exchange store, bank, daycare, school and so on. On levels two, three and four, above the ground level would be the apartments that the residents live in. Housing in this square would be built as people come to live in Wheat Town and would be built until the maximum capacity of the town is reached. The maximum capacity will have to be determined as needs for people to work in the garden warehouses become apparent. Beyond this main square that holds the residential and commercial areas are the garden warehouses.

The Garden Warehouses

The Garden Warehouses will be built with an orientation that has their roofs facing the optimum direction for photovoltaic absorption and with a roof that has a pitch that is also optimum. Apart from a sunlight strip along the length of the roof, the roof would be entirely covered with solar panels. The electricity generated here would be for use in the garden warehouse and any excess would be used in the town. The interior of the warehouse would be such that highest number of Omega Garden Carousels would fit. Carousels use hydroponic solutions and each carousel would be linked with each other in the warehouse with the hydroponic solution flowing through them at a constant rate. This would allow for testing of the nutrient solution to be measured at one main station. Space would be left in the warehouse for harvesting where harvested wheat would be packaged and put into containers. Containers would then be put on a small railcar (much like a rollercoaster but without the thrills) that would travel a small buried rail line that travels from the warehouse to the wheat depot in town. As warehouses get added to this container rail line control systems would need to be put in place to ensure that all containers reach the depot and that all empty containers can return back to the warehouse from the depot. These containers returning from the depot could also ship to each warehouse the nutrient solutions required for the hydroponic system. Finally, the rainfall captured by the roof of the warehouse would be piped to the town's solar aquatic filtration station to then be pumped into the town's infrastructural water system.

One of the first warehouses will be the research warehouse, where research is done to see what can be grown in the carousels. Testing would be ongoing to see what succeeds, what procedures need to be put in place for the other warehouses and to provide training to new employees. The typical warehouse would be split 80% for wheat and the remaining 20% used for growing a variety of food for consumption within the town.

Each warehouse would have a manager whose responsibilities include:

The task list that the manager would produce is an ongoing list that a worker would consult as they come in to work. The list shows up on a touchscreen that allows the employee to interact with it. From the manager's perspective, a list could look something like this:

  1. Sweep under carousels in row A
  2. Check nutrient levels in all rows
  3. inspect plants in carousel A1
  4. inspect plants in carousel A2
  5. harvest plants in carousel B1
  6. harvest plants in carousel B2
  7. start seeds in carousel C1
  8. start seeds in carousel C2
  9. ...
One of the manager's jobs is to keep adding tasks to this list to make sure that everything in the warehouse gets done. So when Peter comes into the warehouse he would look at the touchscreen and see only the top three. He would put his name beside any one of the top three tasks, that task would be removed from the list, the others would move up in sequence, showing the updated top 3 for the next person. Peter would go to do that task, once complete, he would come back and pick another task from the top three. He would continue doing this until he has done the number of hours he needs to do that day.

Note that the task list is always available and that workers can come in at any time of day or night to do their work. Note also that if a person wants to pay off their share purchase debt quickly they can work in more than one warehouse and can work as many hours as they'd like. If a manager notices that one of these over working employees is cutting on quality of work due to being overworked, the manager has the right to refuse the employee in his/her warehouse. Also note that the ideal is for people in Garden Town to work about 30 hours per week - the goal is to get more people working and the only way to do this is to have each person do less so that more people can work.

A concern with hydroponic growing is the growing medium and the nutrients - where do these come from and what can we do to lower their costs and reuse as much as we can? The medium to be used is called Hydroton. This clay material is reusable and inert, research would need to be performed that determines how the hydroton reacts in the motion of a carousel. When it is time to clean the hydroton, the loose hydroton stones can be put into a container and sent to depot where a central hydroton cleaning facility will clean them in preparation for being sent to the next warehouse that requests them. In the future research can be performed on how Wheat Town can make hydroton rather than import it. With respect to nutrients, research will need to be performed to determine how we can get nutrients out of our town - what processes or byproducts are there through the various town functions that would allow us to capture the nutrients required. In the meantime, nutrient solutions would need to be imported into the town.

The Depot/Station

The Depot is where all of the wheat cargo containers end up as they travel the subterranian railway. In the depot these containers would queue up until they reach the unloading station where a person or machine would retrieve the container from the railcar, empty the contents into the packaging system and then replace the empty container on the railcar. The empty rail car would then go to a different queue to either be returned to a warehouse empty, or a still different queue to be filled with something destined for a specific warehouse. Further research would be required to know if the threshing is to be done in the warehouse or at the depot, and if the grinding is to be done at the depot or at the export destination. In any case, the wheat, in whatever it's form, would be packaged accordingly and then loaded into either wheat railcars, or into shipping containers. As production is ramped up the first exports may happen only once a month, and then twice a month as production grows. Later, once a week, then twice a week. Finally, as production really grows due to expansion of the town to have satellite towns, multiple railcars would be loaded on a daily basis.

Parallel to the depot is the station. This is where people and goods can travel by rail to/from the wheat town.

The Wheat Town Company

For a person to move into the town they will need to purchase shares in the Wheat Town Company (WTC) that correlates to the square feet of the home they are moving into in the town. A prescribed downpayment percent (say, 25%) will be required as cash while the rest can be worked out as a mortgage where payment is in 'time worked in the garden warehouse'. Residents will also need to perform a minimum amount of work in the garden warehouse to pay a monthly fee that covers infrastructural maintenance costs. If a person wants to move out of the town they will be paid back the value of the shares that they own. If a person wants to move to a bigger home in the town, they will have to purchase the additional shares that correspond to the additional square feet they have acquired. If a person wants to move to a smaller home in the town, they will have the choice to be refunded the difference in shares, or to keep the shares they have. Revenues that the WTC receive by way of selling wheat to external markets will be used to pay for expansion of Wheat Town and also to pay dividends to the shareholders.

The required number of hours worked in the warehouse to payoff a share purchase amount would be worked out based on a formula that takes a variety of things into account, including age, skill set, amount of downpayment provided and so on. The required number of hours to be worked in the warehouse to pay a monthly infrastructure maintenance cost would be purely tied to the square feet of the home, for example, a 600 square foot home would require 12 hours per month (divide square feet by 50 for monthly hours required). People are required to work the monthly maintenance time for as long as they live in the town, and will be given a quota to fill in addition to this for share purchase payment. The person must work in the warehouse to meet that quota but can also work more to exceed the quota.

Here are a few examples to help illustrate how this would work.

Peter McKay In no relation to a political person, Peter is eighteen years old, has finished all of his education, and has since he was seven years old been a gardener and wants to get into the Wheat Town being built. He goes online and learns that the smallest apartment has 400 square feet, that the current share price is 20$ and that the purchase factor for this size of apartment is 15 shares per square foot. He needs to come up with 25% of (400 square feet * 15 shares/sqft * 20$ share price) 120,000$ or 30,000$. He has managed to save four thousand and is able to get the balance of the downpayment from his parents, so with 30k he now has to work to make up the difference of 90K. He would start at a certain rate for the preliminary gardening tasks that would pay, for example, 10$ per hour. This means that he needs to work 9000 hours or about 300 weeks (30 hour weeks) to pay off his home. During this time Peter may advance in his responsibilities and gain a higher rate which would reduce the amount of hours/weeks left to repay his debt. Peter would own 6000 shares (400 square feet * 15 share/sqft). He would also need to work an additional eight hours per month to pay for the monthly infrastructure maintenance fee.

Stephen Harper In no relation to a political person, Stephen is 33 years old and is wanting to get out of the computer programmer job he has been doing. He already owns a condo that he can sell for a net value of 65,000$ (after paying off the mortgage and real estate agent fees). He has always dreamed of working on a farm but he has never liked being in the sun. He's checked out the Garden Town website for homes and found that he could live with the 1100sqft two room condo that costs (1100 sqft * 8 shares/sqft * 20$ share price) 176,000$. After his 65,000$ downpayment he is left with 111,000$, and finds he needs to work 11,100 hours, or about 370 weeks, to pay off the balance of his home. He figures to work four days a week to devote some time to learning a sixth language, so his payment ends up being 463 weeks, or a little under nine years. Stephen would own 8800 shares (1100 square feet * 8 share/sqft). He would also need to work an additional 22 hours per month to pay for the monthly infrastructure maintenance fee.

Paul and Sheila Paul and Sheila have two children ages 5 and 7. Paul is a manager in a medium sized retail company while Sheila had been working as a call center agent until they decided she would stay home with the children. They have a home that if they were to sell they'd net 95,000$, and the home in the town they want to buy is valued at 264,000$. After deducting their 95,000 this would leave them with 169,000$ that they would need to work for in the garden warehouse. Paul and Sheila would together have to work for a combined 16,900 hours, which if Paul worked full time would be 564 weeks. As the kids get older, Sheila could start doing a few hours in the warehouse to reduce how much Paul has to do. Once the kids reach 12 years of age, they too can contribute. Paul and Sheila would together own 13,200 shares and together would have to do 44 hours of work for the monthly infrastructure maintenance fee.

Now what would Peter, Stephen and Paul and Sheila do to have an income while they are paying off the town? What do they do to earn an income after their share purchase debt is paid off? There will be opportunities in both the commercial and garden sectors of the town. The same job that any of these people are doing to pay back the town debt can also be work that they do to earn an income. If Peter needs an income to support himself while working half of his week in the wheat gardens, he can either get a job anywhere in the town, like being a bartender or waiter, computer progammer, teacher or doing whatever he studied, or, whatever gardening work he is doing, he can say that half of his time there is for paying the town debt while the other half is to generate revenue for himself. Splitting his time for the town would mean that he would be paying off his town debt over a longer period of time.

The math will need to be done to determine what all of the revenue sources are, and how the trading for time works, but in all cases the idea is to make it so that the town receives enough outside revenue from wheat exports that the standard of living for the town residents is maintained at a reasonable level. Note that in all cases I assume a 30 hour work week spread out over as few or as many days as the person wants to work. The nature of the garden warehouses work is that the work can mostly be done at any time of day or night by any one person or two people or any group of people. There is more on this in the garden warehouse section.

The Infrastructure

There are a few infrastructural needs that this town would have, these include water supply, wastewater disposal, garbage and recycling and a container transport control system.

Water Supply The primary input of water for the town would be through rainfall that is captured off of all of the commercial, residential and garden warehouse roofs. All of this water would be sent through rainfall pipes to the solar aquatic facility. Once water exits the solar water facility a last ultraviolet water cleaning pass through would have the water feed the town's reservoir. The reservoir would be sized to according to what the highest estimated capacity will be for the town.

Wastewater disposal The key component to the waste water disposal system is the solar aquatic wastewater recycling facility. Patterned after the Bear River Solar Aquatic Facility, wastewater from all residences, homes and garden warehouses would be processed through various pools that contain plants that clean up all of the toxins and undesirable elements in the water. The size of the facility will be built to exceed the waste production estimate for the town.

Garbage and Recycling During the construction phase, the reduction of waste will be a key goal. Following construction controls will be put in place to require goods that come in from the train to be sold locally in the town only come with recyclable packaging. Recyclable material will be collected throughout the town and will be shipped out of the town for proper recycling. Garbage will have to be dealt with in the town, more research is required to determine how this would be dealt with.

Container Transport Control System With each warehouse requiring the ability to send and receive small transport containers a control system will become necessary to ensure that flow of these containers remains smooth and functional. For the flow in both directions, a management system will exist at Depot that will manage all of the control structures within the rail system. For flow of transport containers from each warehouse to the depot, the warehouse will queue up the containers that are ready to go and roll them manually to the exit door where a lock prevents them from entering onto the main rail. The employee at the warehouse will use the keypad at the exit to indicate how many cars there are and what their destination is (is it carrying wheat, in-town produce, hydroton that needs to be cleaned or something else?). This information would get sent to the transport control system at depot and would be put in a queue. Once this queue item is ready to go, the control system would turn all of the rail switches necessary to get these cars to their proper destination, and then the system would unlock the gate at the warehouse to release the cars into the rail system. For flow from the depot back to the warehouses, to send empty containers, containers with hydroton, containers with nutrients or anything else, a similar system would work - the request would be initiated by the warehouse manager, added to a queue, and then when the transport system is ready it would flip all of the rail switches necessary for the cars to be moved from the depot to the warehouse.

Along the route of these subterranian rail paths are speed control devices that either help the railcars to continue going, or slow them down if they are going too fast. At depot, the subterranian rail will also act as a part of the queue for the stations within the depot where the incoming cars are being unloaded. As each rail car is unloaded it would be moved to a different queue in depot allowing the incoming queue of cars to advance.

The Satellites

As the Wheat town grows and more Garden Warehouses are built the number of people required to work in the gardens will exceed the capacity of the Wheat Town's residential area. As this limit is approached, the first satellite town will begin construction. Recall how in the layout of the town there are three streets that terminate at the end of the residential/commercial block. At one of these will be built the first cable-car that will transport people freely from the original Wheat Town to the first satellite. This detachable cable-car will operate under the same mechanism that is common at ski hills: a slow moving mechanism has the cable-cars at either end rotating slowly for the embark/disembark process, while between the two termini the cable-cars travel on a much faster cable on rails. Another possibility would be to have demand-based gondolas that only bring you from one station to the other as needed. Empty gondolas would occasionally traverse the distance to keep the number of available gondolas within an acceptable threshold on either side. The first satellite town will have a roughly equal number of residential spots as compared to the first Wheat Town, but will have only a small commercial section for necessities. An additional component of the first satellite town will be an infrastructural need like an arena, library, school, gym, pool, amphitheatre or something else. The idea here is that each satellite town will have its own major infrastructural component. The first Wheat Town's major infrastructure is the depot and the train station. The first satellite may be a school with a gym, the second satellite, adjacent to the first one will have a pool and an arena.

As subsequent satellite towns are built, the other 'streets' from the main Wheat Town will have cable-cars leading to the satellites. An additional feature of the cable-cars is that beneath the tracks that transport the people to and from the town and its satellites are rails that allow for the movement of wheat containers. Garden warehouses would fill the areas between satellite towns, and so each satellite town would have a group of garden warehouses in its vicinity that it is responsible for managing. As the wheat is harvested it would be sent on a rail that would under the rail-gondola towards the Wheat Town depot. As the number of satellite towns grow, additional depots could be built that have access to the train spur line so that railcars could be filled at more than one depot.

Other options for satellite towns include

As much as possible people who work in a specific satellite town should live in that satellite town, this would decrease the stress on the transport system that exists between satellite towns.

The Energy

As already explained in the garden warehouse section, the garden warehouses will be covered in solar panels to produce electricity for the warehouses and for the towns. In addition, scattered throughout the area of wheat town will be Shec power plants and windmills. In all areas where energy can be conserved as much as possible, it will be. The entire town will have only LED lights except for the rarest of circumstances where lighting at performances may require different light fixtures. Laundry drying lines will be hung above street level between residential areas that over look the street. If Wheat Town is fortunate enough to be placed near a river, a micro-hydro installation would also be put in place to capture the energy flowing in the river.

The Traditional Farm

Somewhere in the grand design of Wheat Town space will be made to do a Polyface style farm to create a food system for the residents of Wheat Town. For some foods that are better grown outdoors or in the ground as compared to the hydroponic Omega Garden Carousels, this traditional farm will be there to grow those items for consumption in the town. Employees who are repaying their share purchase debt can also work on this farm to repay their debt. The manager of this farm will had to have training to operate the farm under Polyface style management.