Posts

Permaculture Tours - Episode 1: Abdallah House

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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. …

RetroSuburbia and Abdallah House

Image
One project that has dominated my life over the past couple of years has been my involvement in the production of RetroSuburbia: the downshifter's guide to a resilient future, permaculture co-originator David Holmgren's new book.

It's been a really exciting and challenging project for me, tying together the various threads of my life - with my background as a graphic artist / designer, passion for permaculture and regenerative living, desire to inspire others to make change in their lives, and development a successful ethical enterprise.

Ever since I read David's essay on Retrofitting the suburbs for an energy descent future I've been nudging him to write the book. We met fortnightly for a year or so while he worked on the initial manuscript, while I developed the first incarnation of the RetroSuburbia website - which has since been upgraded and redesigned by Ostii and the team at Flowji. An important aspect I wanted to get across in this work was that RetroSubur…

Happen Films, and the Abdallah House doco

Image
I've been a big fan of Happen Films, ever since I saw the first short film that Jordan made a few years ago about Agari Permaculture Farm (see below) - just up the road in Longwood. I've been following their releases on their YouTube channel ever since. I've been particularly impressed by the professionalism in production, a rare thing to see for the types of subject matter that I'm attracted to.


Antoinette and Jordan were out in Australia for the launch of their feature film Living the Change. Unfortunately I missed the premiere Melbourne screening in early March. I reached out to the local BEAM sustainability group to see if there was interest in a local screening, and got a very positive response. I was in the process of organising an event when I was contacted by Antoinette out of the blue, who was keen to spend 2 days filming at Abdallah House for a short doco about our place.

It was an absolute pleasure having them stay with us, and sharing our humble abode.…