2016 Permaculture Day Tours

Front garden at Abdallah HouseIt’s been six years since Richard and his family moved into their owner built home, just 1km from central Seymour. ‘Abdallah House’, is an urban rebuild and permaculture demonstration site on a small 580m2 block (1/7th of an acre). The house was constructed with a mix of reclaimed and new materials using passive solar design principles under the direction of builder architect Peter Lockyer.

The households uses less than a fifth of the energy of a typical home, thanks mainly to solar and wood heating of the house and hot water system. A 1.5kW solar system provides more than enough energy to run their home, with excess sold back to the grid.

Fruit trees and grape vines are now well established, and along with the vegetable gardens and chooks, provide for most of their fresh food needs. Solar drying, ferments and Valcola pasteurising help preserve the the harvest and a freezer converted into a super efficient fridge, cool cupboard, and cellar are used for food storage.

Meet Richard and Peter at Abdallah House on Permaculture Day, Sunday the 1st of May, for tours at 2, 3 & 4 o’clock at 1a Abdallah Road Seymour. Cost is $5, which includes a Permaculture Calendar. Under 16 free. Booking not required, for more info visit www.abdallahhouse.com

See our events page for directions

Plastic Bag-free Victoria

One of the aspirations of the Sustainable Seymour workshops was to free Victoria from Plastic bags.  Think about supporting this proposal from Adam Bandt and The Greens…

Each year, Australians use over 4 billion check-out style plastic bags. These plastic bags are choking our waterways and destroying our natural environment.

Will you join me in calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to make Melbourne plastic bag free?

Melbourne is the progressive heartland of Australia, but when it comes to banning plastic bags, we’re behind the pack. With enough public pressure, we can call on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to follow the lead the of the ACT, Northern Territory and South Australia and ban plastic bags.

Click here to sign our petition to ban plastic bags in Melbourne and Victoria.

Lightweight plastic bags take over 1000 years to break down, yet every minute Australians throw out 7000 plastic bags. Banning plastic bags is a small but powerful step we can take to protecting our natural environment. Join me in the call for a ban on plastic bags today.

Goulburn River Spotlight Walk to celebrate World Environment Day, Sunday 5th June.

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To celebrate World Environment Day, BEAM is organising a hot bread-and stew dinner followed by a spotlight walk along the river bank in Seymour.  The big old Redgums along the river are home to a variety of nocturnal wildlife including Brush-tail and Ring-tail Possums and very cute Sugar Gliders.  There will be commentary about the biology of these animals as we wander along the track.  This is a wonderful walk for all the family.

 

We will gather near the boat ramp at the New Crossing Place Park (Lions Park) in Manners Street (past the Royal Hotel and world famous hamburger stand off Emily Street).   Dinner will be on from 5:30  while it is still light and the walk will start at 6:30.  Bring warm clothes and good footwear and a torch.

Bookings required for catering purposes – please see our Events page for more details.

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BEAM Members Picnic at High Camp on Sunday May 15th

BEAM is holding a Members Picnic at the Trust for Nature property at High Camp on Sunday 15th May, from 12:00 midday.  The Picnic is an opportunity to meet other like-minded people and enjoy being part of your local environment group. The day will begin with a barbecue and conversations followed by a walk around the property and more conversations.  We value your participation and membership so please come along and enjoy the company and the locality.

The only costs for the day are membership of BEAM and bring-a-plate-to-share.  We will  provide barbecued meat and vegie burgers, plus tea and coffee.  The membership cost only applies if you are not already signed up for 2015-16 (membership is $15 per person, $20 for families and $7.50 for concessions).   But bookings are essential for catering – contact BEAM

Please also bring suitable clothing and sturdy footwear for rough walking, and something to drink. Continue reading

Rowanmoon for sale

RowanMoon11Long term BEAM member Jenna Carole has made the difficult decision to sell her gorgeous Tallarook property, Rowanmoon. Jenna’s house, which she has comfortably lived in for 18 years, is a unique self-sufficient stone & timber home she built herself. It sits on 50 acres in the Tallarook range, surrounded by spectacular granite boulders.

RowanMoon5The off-grid house comprises an open plan kitchen and living area, guest bedroom and bathroom downstairs, and a large bedroom/studio on the first floor. Features includes solar power and hot water, wood stove with wet back, 13 rainwater storage tanks, a below ground cellar, double glazed windows, composting toilet, carport and wood storage area, and goat and chook pens.

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The property is advertised on the Trust for Nature website, where you can find more detail and photos. Enquiries directly to Jenna on 0427 059 498.

Sustainable Seymour – an update – 27 March 2016

Sustainable Seymour bannerWe have been building on the projects over the past couple of months and now have three grant applications in the pipeline – see below for an update and previous bulletins for more details.  We have arranged with Seymour U3A and TSWW for Roger Dargaville to address the U3A’s Melting Pot at 1:30pm on Tuesday 5th April at the Salvation Army Hall in Victoria Street.

Roger has been helping us with the pumped hydro project. Roger’s background is in meteorology but he now works for the Energy Institute at Melbourne University. He will be wearing both hats to talk about Climate Change; the problems and solutions. See the events page for more information. Everyone is welcome, so please come along.

Continue reading

Climate Change: the problem and the solutions

Roger Dargaville talk picture

Seymour U3A, together with BEAM Mitchell Environment Group and The Seymour We Want is hosting Dr Roger Dargaville at a Melting Pot event in Seymour on April 5.

“Global warming is undeniable, and all the evidence points to the human emissions of greenhouse gas, especially carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel as the primary driver. The impacts of the warming include increases in extreme weather events (i.e. heatwaves, floods), shifting in climate regions affecting average rainfall, and sea level rise. Following the Paris meeting of the UNFCCC, the governments of the planet have agreed to act to avoid more than 2 degrees of warming. But how will this happen? Is it an impossible task? Modelling work conducted at the University of Melbourne suggests that migrating to a low carbon energy system by 2050 is both technically and economically feasible, but any delays in action make the tasks more and more difficult. The changes to the energy system will be profound and will affect the way we use energy on a daily basis.”

The event is open to all interested persons and will be held at the Salvation Army Hall in Seymour.  Afternoon tea will be provided.  A gold coin donation is requested.

Dr Dargaville is the Deputy Director of Melbourne Uni’s Energy Institute and has been working closely with the Sustainable Seymour Network and Euroa Environment Group in the development of one of the projects arising from the Sustainable Seymour forums.

 

Environmental issues in India – Part 2

Local architect and builder, and president of BEAM Peter Lockyer has taken on a project in the Punjab of India with some challenges, the construction of a “sustainable house” over the next 3 years, at 4 months each year. This straw bale house is in a rural village and comes at the invitation of a former Seymour resident Ravish Sran. See part 1 of this article here.

Some early observations in India’s north-west

Delhi is officially the most polluted city on our planet. Source:

Air Pollution

Those beautiful sunsets in Australia with smoke in the air…the crimson sun…that is everyday India. Delhi is officially the most polluted city on our planet (and when we were there late January, there was a garbage strike to further challenge the scenery) and they have introduced an odds/evens number plate system to remove half of the private cars from the road traffic. Indians, like in China, want motor cars as they can afford it (and why shouldn’t they) but there are some serious air quality downsides. As well as congestion.

Potters in Delhi must be exempt- they still fire up there wood kilns with whatever wood material they can buy (often glue-laden laminates). It’s an incredible sight, but filthy air results. Their very livelihood is under a challenge.

In the past 10 years India has seen that auto rickshaws (the famous three wheeler taxi) in the city and buses alike all run on gas. In Agra there are a few electric auto rickshaws, but my friend with a gas old-style three-wheeler says they are under-powered and recharging is an issue. Still, their numbers have grown in 3 years, and with market demand we can expect technology improvement.

Public transport

Public transport in India is big. India has, I would suggest, the biggest rail network in the world. It can appear slow and the trains are old, but it is safe and a source of Indian pride. Trains are very popular albeit the train punctuality in the country is….variable. First-class is rudimentary by Australian standards, and cattle class is…chockers. Its affordable .

The Delhi Metro was built for the Commonwealth games. This runs like clockwork, Singapore quality and VERY popular with the young and upwardly mobile. Village people don’t use it much: they stay local with their businesses. However the Metro has become too popular. Peak hour has trains every 10 minutes, but every one of them is very, very packed. In old Delhi last week we saw the cue from the underground run through the station, up the very long stairs and along the street for a good hundred metres! Gobsmacking as they saw. The Metro is still being extended, out to the new suburbs that appear like China 1950s. Somehow I like the old city better- dirty but exciting and full of character. Accommodation towers of uninsulated concrete may provide more accommodation, but they have no personality, no identity in my eyes, and very little local business. These are the epitome of the modern western planning system where you don’t work where you live. Its not a recipe for a sustainable society in my view.

Auto Rickshaw in India.  Source:

The three wheeler auto rickshaws are a feature in every town. In big cities some are electric, most are on LPG and in the country towns, there is a dirty diesel machine looking like an inspiration from Mad Max (slow but well patronised)!

Energy

India produces electricity from nuclear power and coal. Blackouts are common place. Street wiring is a sight to behold (spaghetti in the sky).

I have noticed an uptake in rooftop solar in the past 3 years, but its slow. The extensive rooftop PV was observed on a Metro Station, covered in dust. This is some employment opportunity: a need to clean dust off this technology if you want its maximum power potential. India is very dusty.

India has 300million people living in extreme poverty. Many small rural villages have no power whatsoever, so encouraging children to study by oil lamp or torchlight is not so attractive (but they do it). India came back from Paris and the Climate Agreement declaring it would ramp up its power system to provide power to the poor. Admirable, but they have openly stated this will be by coal-fired power, and poles and wires. I doubt this is achievable (India has struggled to meet ambitious development targets since 1947) but the pollution outcomes and global warming from this strategy, if implemented in full could scuttle global emissions efforts. It is a reckless policy.

Recently on Renew Economy I read about a recent Indian auction for large scale power, and solar was cheaper than coal. This is despite the depressed coal price (which is a boon for keep India’s Adani out of the Galilee Basin in Queensland). Ironically the very rich Mr Adani has just announced India’s biggest solar farm. Same man, its just a smart investment.

Renewable energy is India’s potential to solve its power problems for rural villages WITHOUT poles and wires. Get on board PM Modi!

Here in the Punjab, there is an impressive push for rooftop solar with hefty subsidies by the State. Whilst still not as cheap as unsubsidised rooftop PV in Australia, with market penetration the prices will come down. Its the Rudd Government circa 2013, and it worked for Australia. The pity is the subsidies exclude commercial and industrial applications.