I am submitting to the Energy and Environment Track


I've spent the past year working on various homesteads. One was a commune in Virginia with a full scale solar system, chickens, a pet possum, and a large-scale farm. Another is a small family in Chapel Hill with two cows, chickens, a berry farm, and a few gardens. Working with these people has inspired me to work towards building my own homestead. Quickly, I came to realize how difficult of a project this is. The online and technical tools are extremely lacking, because most real estate applications are just about profiting or saving money, not developing self-sufficiency. Although this project is not of a huge scale, it is very crucial and can help accelerate the movement of people working towards sustainable living.

What it does

This application allows an individual to outline a property, and work through major costs, such as energy infrastructure and animal enclosures, in an easy to use graphical interface.

How I built it

I recently finished my first course in basic web development. This got me excited to try to create a useful tool. I came up with the idea of a homestead planner and promptly joined Hack Duke (even though Duke is our rival). I used my basic knowledge of react to design the layout and then dove head first into learning how to use the Google Maps API. What took the most time was doing the calculations for the costs of lengths of fencing and property acreage. I am super pleased with the documentation available within Google's APIs and I think it turned out quite nicely.

Challenges I ran into

I started the project hoping to get a full stack website running, but unfortunately did not have time or resources to figure out hosting and backend. I also ran into a dead-end integrating data from a CSV file, but was able to make it work regardless.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I am super happy with how my final product looks. Although it is not as comprehensive as it could be, it is easy to use and effectively does the job.

What I learned

Wow! I learned so much in the last 24 hours. By woking through the entire development of the project, i got a much better understanding of how react works. It was my first time using an API and I have a new sense of confidence with keys and calls. I can't wait to integrate more APIs in future projects! On top of the programming and project itself, I also attended as many talks as I could and learned a great deal about recruitment, startups, inequity, react, and pyTorch.

What's next for Plan Your Homestead

I actually am super excited about developing this tool further.

  1. Get the website hosted and publicly available.
  2. Make a login so users can save their plans
  3. Create an easier system of finding a location on a map with a search bar.
  4. Integrate more data about energy costs, land costs, solar and wind, weather, and social.
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