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There are 3 photos on the page.

  1. of the seed gardens at the headquarters, the Family Garden started summer of 1999 by Ron Darby. This shows cabbage, scallions going to seed, sunflowers, various beans including garbonzo and soy, melons, tomatoes tied to a fence, broccoli and herb rows, and 3 cages which have peppers under the screen. Photo states Vegetables and herbs of all types are grown in the garden right outside the offices of Troubled Times, Inc. in Wisconsin. The plants are allowed to go to seed which is then collected for distribution world-wide. Photos by Michael Carighan.
  2. of Ichi bending over the a hydroponic setup, with a meter in his hand. The setup with space blankets is in the background. Photo states Shuichi Inoue tests the pH levels in the nutrient rich growing media used in the hydroponics system. Ichi is also developing recipes designed to make earthworms taste good enough to eat.
  3. of Nancy lifting a bean pot with a huge root system out of the hydroponic water. Worm bed structure is in the background. Photo states Nancy Lieder, president of Troubled Times, Inc., shows off the root system of a hydroponically grown plant that is not quite two weeks old.

Comments in brackets are editorial by the President.

Getting you through “Troubled Times”
July 6, 2000, Reedsburg Report-Times-Press, Lifestyle section

Dealing with the unfamiliar and the unknown add the element of suspense to the hit TV show “Survivor”. But if you were ever faced with a drastic change in your living conditions would you know what to do? Would you have the inner strength to survive? Troubled Times, Inc. is an international, public benefit, non-profit organization, which for the last nine months has been headquartered in a little village in Wisconsin. The primary objective of the organization is to educate the public on how to deal with a major natural cataclysm and life afterwards. The driving force behind their efforts is well-documented scientific data showing that the earth has undergone major natural cataclysmic activity about every 3,600 years. Data also indicates that the last of these events happened about 3,500 years ago.

[Note, Mike did the “not in my lifetime” bit here, as I gave him selected articles from the 3,600 site, including Phillipe’s article from Turkey substantiating the 2003 date, but he chose to see it 100 years away.]

No, this organization is not a soapbox preaching doomsday group as may come to mind. Nor are they a group of hippie survivalists. They are primarily your average, middle-aged folks who are quite knowledgeable and come from a variety of well-established backgrounds. “We feel there is a reason to be concerned that we may be heading into something,” says Nancy Lieder, president of the organization. “We want to help families figure out how to be self-sustaining.” Troubled Times is attempting to achieve its objectives by doing extensive research in several different areas. “Consider what you would do if all of a sudden the area Pick ‘N Save was no more,” says Lieder. “What if you had to retreat to your basement and not rely on a store?” Food and water, of course, are essential to life. Therefore those are the main focus of the group’s Wisconsin operation. The growing of vegetables and herbs not only for food, but for seed is one of the main components of the work. A self-sustaining basement food growing system is another. Troubled Times grows seed from a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and grains. The seed is gathered and packaged for distribution around the world. The seeds are then sent out to any experienced growers who request them, free of charge. The stipulation of this program is that everyone who receives them must return the same amount of seed plus a little more at the end of the following growing season.

[Note, this drastically understates the qualifying we do on our growers, but any grower requesting will soon find that out.]

“We have growers all over the world,” says Lieder. Each year’s seed crop is sent to a seed bank in Fairbanks, Alaska and then re-distributed.

[Note, I actually stated that we have a seed bank in Fairbanks, along with the other hubs including Europe hub, but this got skewed.]

Growers keep data on their growing conditions and techniques. They can harvest produce and seed for their own use from the crop as long as they replenish the seed bank as required. The basement food production system is unique to say the least. The system begins with a series of earthworms beds originally filled with red wigglers and nightcrawlers gathered by hand in the early dawn hours by Lieder, herself. The beds are contained in boxes that slide in and out of a specially-made rack. The bottom of the boxes are equipped with plumbing works. Periodically the worm beds are watered. The nutrient rich excess water from the beds is collected by the plumbing works for use as nutrients in the second part of the system, the hydroponics system.

In the hydroponics system, seeds are placed in a poly-wool container and then into a nutrient rich growing medium. Seeds spout in a third the time required in soil and growth rates are phenomenal. In just two weeks plants develop a very dense root mass and have grown to sizes that it would take four to six weeks to achieve in soil. Very specific information about the hydroponics system is recorded at least daily. Size and height measurements of each plant are measured. Humidity, pH, and temperature readings are taken. Growing medium and air analysis is regularly recorded. Somewhat sterile conditions are maintained for the plant’s protection. Periodically, changes are made to one or more of the elements in the system and changes in the growth are watched closely. The third part of the system consists of two, 500 gallon tanks in which catfish are grown. This system is designed to produce up to 500 pounds of fish every six months.

[Note: the tanks are actually 293 gallons each, to substitute for a 500 gallon tank that would not fit through the door. Also, it’s 500 pounds of fillets every year, as I believe I stated, for our setup, but would be double that for the tank size he published, so this is not too bad as far as accuracy.]

The nitrogen rich water produced by the fish may also be used as the growing medium for the hydroponics system. With plants submerged directly in the water, they use up the nitrogen, thereby keeping the fish water in balance for the fish. The worm beds are capable of producing 250 pounds of raw protein, worms, every week.

[Big misstatement, as this is every 6 months, same as our 293*2 gallon fish tanks setups! I’ll correct this if and when there are inquiries.]

The worms are used to feed the catfish or for human consumption. “If things ever got to their worst you may have to eat bugs and earthworms,” explains Lieder. When earthworms are left in water, they will completely purge themselves of everything in their system. What is left is just the meat of the worm. “They have no taste,” says Shichi Inoue, a chef of 23 years from Osaka, Japan. Ichi (pronounced Ee-chee), as he is nicknamed, is in the US on a work visa to help Troubled Times develop recipes that make the worms taste good.

[Note: Ichi is on a travel visa, again, as he could not get a B-1 visa granted by the US Consul in Japan.]

“It’s very difficult,” says Lieder. “But he adds spices and makes a kind of sweet and sour sauce. He knows a lot of tricks to making anything taste good.” Troubled Times is funded primarily from private contributions and expects to receive about $100,000 in funding this year alone. In addition to the Wisconsin base and the Fairbanks seed bank, the organization has two main hubs in the United States, one in Kansas and one in New York, and one in the Netherlands in Europe. Other types of research that the group is involved in include wind generators and water turbines, water distillation, carbon arc lighting and short-wave radio. ‘We’re just trying to develop a solution set that works,” say Lieder.