Posts

Rocket powered oven - a review

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Principle 6: Produce no waste

Way back in 2009, while helping clean up a house for a friend, I obtained an old gas oven. My vision was to one day build my own rocket powered oven. I had no idea of how to do that, so the oven sat under a tarp for many years.

Then, by chance, in April 2016 I stumbled across a workshop being run by appropriate technology experts Tim Barker and Joel Meadows, while visiting Yandoit Farm. It included a section on how to transform an old gas oven into a rocket powered oven. Of course, I had to do the workshop! We spent the morning learning about what rocket power is, how it works and why its so efficient. In the afternoon we built the oven and had roast veggies from it that night.


Inspired by the project, I included a photo of the build in the 2017 permaculture calendar to illustrate the principle 'observe and interact' to introduce the concept to a wider audience. In November 2016 Tim and Joel released an eBook on the complete process on how the roc…

Failing to live up to a promise - getting locked out

Principle 1: Observe and Interact

When I built the house I used as many second hand materials as I could, but I didn't skimp on the main door locks. I bought that best that I could, a well regarded brand and a relatively simple and common design. The Lockwood 001 Deadlatch came with a 25 year warranty too, so I felt pretty secure in my choice.

8-9 years later and on of the 2 locks that I bought began to fail, the internal knob wouldn't 'hold back', which meant that we started to get locked outside unexpectedly. Remembering that the lock had a 25 year warranty I started investigating how I could get it repaired / replaced. In the fine print I noticed that I needed to provide proof of purchase, and return it to the place of purchase. Being the person that I am I found a receipt that I tucked away, but it had totally faded to the point that I couldn't read it at all, so I couldn't do that.



I thought I'd give it a go anyway, because I felt that I was sold somet…

Permaculture Tours - Episode 1: Abdallah House

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The visit of Jordan and Anointette from Happen Films earlier in the year has resulted in the first episode in a series on Permaculture Tours. We are very happy with result, and it's been well received, with 15,000 views and over 900 likes on YouTube in the first week of release. I love reading through the comments. We get feedback from many people who find what we do inspires them, it makes me tingle all over.

The clip features explanations about the cellar, cool cupboard, greenhouse, solar passive design, super fridge, food production, water harvesting, toilet and humanure composting



If you like what you see here, and want to see more tours like this on the web, please consider supporting Happen Films with Patreon.

I'd also highly recommend the 'Creatures of Place' clip, with our friends (and fellow bloggers) 'Artist as Family' - who also feature in David Holmgren's RetroSuburbia book.

'Super Fridge' the upright freezer conversion: Take 2

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Principle 1: Observe and interact Rather than give up on the idea of an upright freezer conversion, after the original one died after just 5 years, I decided to evolve the concept and learn from it.

The way the conversion from a freezer to a fridge works is really very simple. A temperature controller is programmed to turn the freezer on when the temperature inside the freezer reaches 5ºC, and off when it reaches 3ºC (can be adjusted). The controller has a thermostat that measures the internal temperature. The freezer plugs into the controller, and the controller plugs into the wall socket. See this post for details about how I made it up - it cost about AU$15. 

Choosing the right freezer Issues with the original design of the cheap (Aldi AU$299) upright 190L freezer that I used were:
no space to stand up bottleswater condensing on the top shelfpoor build quality, seals and drawers crackinghard to open the doorhard to open drawers (damaging wall mounts and insulation)exposed metal ele…

RetroSuburbia at the Seymour Library

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There was a real buzz at the Seymour Library last Tuesday night, where 110 people packed the usually quiet space, to hear David Holmgren’s presentation “Food, Resilience and Retrofitting our Suburbs”.The night began with banter between locals Peter Lockyer and Richard Telford focussed on retrofitting projects of the built environment, including Abdallah House and three other properties, all within a kilometre of the library. The common thread was in considering the solar aspect, and modifying the existing resources and infrastructure of the sites to increase self-reliance.

David introduced ‘Aussie Street’, a compelling story from the 'new suburbs' of the 1950s and their evolution through the decades. People in the audience could relate to the made-up characters that live in the street, and the drama of their lives. Each of the four properties illustrated various realistic approaches to suburban living, and adaption to changing times.


As affluence and energy use dramatically i…

David Holmgren identifies Seymour as a model for ecological renewal

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Globally recognised ecological thinker, David Holmgren, has identified the Seymour township as a potential key model for regional community-based ecological renewal.

Holmgren, permaculture co-originator, believes Seymour has the ideal community and infrastructure mix to become a leading adapter of retrofitting the built environment, private open space, household form and lifestyle, to become more sustainable.
'Seymour has the classic suburban pattern of small houses on larger blocks, many of them solar oriented, that has mostly been lost to infill and redevelopment in Melbourne' says Holmgren.

'This makes it ideal for owner and occupier initiated retrofits. Local case study Abdallah House, active community groups, local government centre on the train line, affordability and the river all contribute to Seymour’s potential. At the southern end of the Mitchell Shire, new suburban housing patterns present different opportunities and retrofit challenges more typical of outer su…

Super Fridge review - 5 years on

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Apply self-regulation and accept feedback Almost 5 years to the day after I wrote the piece on the 'Super Fridge', it has been my most popular post by far. The fridge recently died, which was very disappointing, even though I knew that this was an experiment. I had optimistically anticipated that the super fridge may last longer than a similar quality normal fridge because it was under less load. I was wrong about that.

Thought it would be good to do a bit of a review on how it performed and what the learnings were from it. You can see the original post here - read over it now, if you haven't already.

I estimated that the daily energy use of the original 'super fridge' was 165Wh per day. This was based on settings of turning on at 3ºC and off at 7ºC. I changed that later to on at 2ºC and off at 5ºC, so the use could be assumed to be a bit higher than 165Wh p/d - but I didn't measure this.
The cheap Aldi freezer that we purchased in 2013 (AU$299) was not ideal. …