EarthChat with recycler designer Jan Flook

Listen to the EarthChat interview with local recycling innovator Jan Flook with your host, Irene Telford. Friday 22nd July at 10:30am on Seymour FM – 103.9

Glass Chandelier by Jan FlookJan Flook is an inspiring designer with a fascination for light, beauty, symmetry and fun. He has dedicated his life to the pursuit of beauty within the mundane, functional objects that surround us, transforming the everyday into practical works of art. Contemporary chandelier and furniture designer, passionate recycler and advocate of modern materials, Jan believes that “It is the hidden shapes that catch us by surprise and on closer inspection reveal their humble beginnings.”

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Sustainable Seymour – Structure Plan workshop

Mitchell Shire Council is moving to the next stage with an emerging ideas paper for the Seymour Structure Plan.  As we have said before, this is a great opportunity to create the Seymour we want. It includes some activities you can participate in.  We encourage you to read the information, attend a session and make a submission – even if you are travelling overseas during June.  Note the 3 July deadline.

You can provide feedback by completing the Key Theme Surveys. (You will need to register on their site or sign in to take the surveys).

We are planning a workshop to stimulate ideas that can be developed into submissions from the group and from individuals.  The workshop will be at Chittick Place in Seymour at 12:30 for a 1:00 start. Phil Bourne will be convening the discussion.  The discussion will be based on the Emerging Ideas paper at  so it would be useful for your input if you have read or at least browsed through the paper.  We are designing the workshop around obtaining your ideas and developing submissions from you and from the group.  We will end the afternoon with afternoon tea and update on other Sustainable Seymour projects.

Everyone is welcome but please give us an indication that you intend to come so we can structure the workshop to hear and accommodate everyone’s ideas.  We will also have an update and discussion on other Sustainable Seymour initiatives.  And of course afternoon tea – please bring a plate as well as your ideas to share.

Peter Mitchell,
for the Sustainable Seymour Network
0468 795 954

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

See our events page for directions

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)!


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.

Environmental issues in India – Part 1

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.

Some early observations in India’s north-west


If we think of global issues of climate change and survival on our planet without wiping out half of the remaining bio-diversity by 2050, then population is right up there. Speaking with friends here (who have 2 children) they have real concerns at what India will look like with 1.5billion mouths in 2050 (currently 1.2billion). 2050 looks like 10billion mouths worldwide. These are educated Indians with choices saying this. Most Indians have fewer choices- its hand to mouth in a daily grind within a rigid cultural dynamic.

Man sorting plastic bottles. Photo copyright Enrico Fabian.

Man sorting plastic bottles. Photo copyright Enrico Fabian. Source link.

Waste is a serious issue

Plastic has been a massive problem around the world, but few places more so than India. It blows around the streets, it builds up with other waste along road edges and in scrubland, and it chokes river systems. Cows roaming the streets eat rubbish, plastic and all (a problem for stomachs…just like fish ). Recent moves in Delhi and Agra have added strength to anti-plastic legislation (which has been in place for a few years with no obvious effect) with a 2,000 rupee fine (about $40) if caught using plastic bags. It’s a big fine for roadside stalls (where a daily income of just $5 is common)! However, police enforcement is absent in so many areas in India (a paper tiger?). Still, I bought fruit in both Delhi and Agra and given hand-made paper bags (ex-maths book pages…nice touch). That’s impressive. Beyond those 2 cities, its plastic as usual. Nothing as progressive in Punjab, but I am optimistic.

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An electric car revival?

The idea for this article arose after a question by a Seymour College student, at the first Sustainable Seymour workshop, asked if existing cars could converted to electricity, rather than purchasing new ones.

Seymour resident Neil Harris with his 1967 Morris 1100 EV docked for charging

Seymour resident Neil Harris with his 1967 Morris 1100 EV docked for charging

Many people would be surprised to hear that electric cars have been around for a very long time. The first production electric car was designed in London by Thomas Parker and built in 1884. A fleet of electric powered taxis was in operation in the city by the end of the century.
They became quite popular in the early part of the 20th century. They were to easy start, drive and provided a smooth, clean and quiet ride.

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Queensland Fruit Fly Workshop Notes

Queensland_Fruit_Fly_-_Bactrocera_tryoniThe evening of Thursday the 19th of March saw a full venue of people turn out to hear The Seymour Agricultural & Pastoral Society’s guest speaker Russell Fox give a talk on Queensland Fruit Fly. People from right across the region attended including, farmers, orchardists, home and community gardeners and many interested persons. Russell gave an interesting and informative talk including an overview and brief history of detections in Victoria, work being done in Cobram, the life cycle of the Queensland Fruit Fly and the variety of control options available. My notes follow and I must advise that these contain only some of the information made available on the evening and I apologise for any errors I may have inadvertently made. Following the workshop notes I have also included a number of websites worth visiting for further information.

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BEAMers all…the EVENTS GUIDE for the coming fortnight

KILMORE SHOW this Saturday

9am til 5pm but with a BEAMbags feature 11am til 1pm, with a variety of bags available, and artwork materials for kids to decorate their bags. And some PNG bilums on display- we could think of importing these for sale, they ARE a great shopping bag- strong and ever expandable. If you want to find out what a PNG billum looks like or want to join us for a chat, we are in the Community Street area of the Show.End of Year Christmas Party at the Tallarook Aboretum

SUNDAY December 14th is our END of YEAR party!!

Woohoo, but its YOUR show and its on at the Tallarook Arboretum from midday (after the Tallarook Market) with barbeque (please book in via the BEAM hotmail address, so we know numbers), salads concocted by the BEAM committee, BYO drinks but in lieu of Santa we have the world famous Spotted Quolls with their unusual array of christmas carols and songs of revolutionary love (or, trying to play the same tune together, same key). PLEASE BOOK IN so we can cater – for more info click here.


YOU missed a great WaterWatch morning at the Tallarook Arboretum last Sunday. No election hangovers nor kids parties could keep just 4 adults and 3 children from being present and prompt and thoroughly entertained by Kirsten Hogan and shrimp and damselflies and bumsquirters (I kid you not) and mature taddies. And paddlers and stick swimmers and….and we ate and drank all of the catering (expecting 20 or so).

Not sure about the response. It was an event flagged enthusiastically at the July BEAM workshops, and as a combined BEAM and Landcare event should have been good for numbers. It wasn’t. Was it the time of year? election hangover? I’d be interested in your thoughts please. Feedback to

The upside is that WaterWatch surveys may be a great way to engage kids at Landcare and BEAM events. Dabyminga Catchment Co-op (Tallarook and Reedy Creek Landcare Groups) has 4 workshops at the Arboretum each year…and its a fun thing for kids and parents alike. And for the record, the Dabyminga Creek is looking pretty healthy!