a three-legged cast iron cook-pot baking potatoes inside the wood stove was something of a revelation to me. this is appropriate technology at its best. it multiplies the benefits of heat we’re already producing, reducing our energy use; it’s simple and waste-free to use with little to repair, it’s that rare breed: a lifetime tool acquired once and maintained, tried & true.
baking inside the wood stove using a cast iron dutch oven is one of those simple solutions that maximises our energy use and meets multiple needs, by stacking functions like cooking and heating. this is just one way that the wood stove increases our resilience and it is one of our favourites. not least because it is delicious!
when our heat source can also reheat leftover homemade noodle soup (see ‘grain mill’), water for washing up, warm forgotten cups of tea (see ‘enamel cup’), dry our laundry (see ‘pulley airer’) generate ash and biochar for the garden soil and bake potatoes for lunch all at the same time, (see ‘wood stove’) a lower energy future might just be neither deprived nor uncomfortable, but pleasingly efficient.
stacking functions allows us to embrace the limits of our earth without noticing the pinch — it shows that, designed well, this can even be a great pleasure. whether we face this moment and take it upon ourselves to cut our collective energy and material use by 80% as we need to in my neck of the woods, or we continue to avoid the realities of our planetary limits and follow all the ways we are in overshoot right off a cliff-face, yes, whether we meet that future with some equanimity or we abruptly collapse, we must simplify. whatever our context, stacking functions is a principle that can mitigate the impacts as it adapts to what’s possible. it has the potential to cut our material and energy use while still meeting our needs, when applied to just about any aspect of our lives.
thank you to our patrons for their support in this little series, these friends and relations of ‘the journal of small work*’ films and their book and radio companion pieces. subscribe here to become a patron.