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Showing posts from 2014

The 'glass cube' solar cooker design Pt1

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Principle 1: Observe and interact

My mate Dylan and I have been talking about making a solar cooker for a year (or two) now and we finally made some time to put our ideas into action. Rather than stick to a standard design we decided to experiment a bit.

There's basically two types of solar cookers. The box cooker and a parabolic reflectors. The box cooker is an insulated box with a transparent lid and light directed towards it. These are generally slow cookers, usually used for roasting or stewing.


The parabolic cookers all work on the principle of reflecting light to a concentrated source. These are quick cookers - good for boiling water or a fry pan.

We were wondering about the box cooker idea, but the box being made out of glass - to increase the amount of light and heat that it could collect. With the addition of reflectors we thought that theorised that the box would get pretty darn hot. The original idea was to create a double glazed box and lid - to help keep the heat insi…

Raising beds - concrete tiles and reo put to use

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Principle 6: Produce no waste

In an effort to get more engaged with my local community I began writing a regular article for  the Telegraph, our local newspaper. My plan is to write an article every couple of weeks about projects that I'm involved in or inspired by - I've decided to call the column: Do It Yourselfer. These articles are being reproduced on thePermaculture Principles blog.

On this blog post I thought that I'd reproduce the first article that I wrote with some more detail and links to expand on what I've been up to. If you've got any thoughts about this idea or the projects, please leave a comment - and feel free to share these posts if you find them of interest. - Cheers, Richard Telford.

Do It Yourselfer #1 I like to get my hands dirty and have a go a just about anything. It’s something that runs through my veins. When asked “what’s your profession?” in those probing forms that you have to fill out, I started answering “Do it Yourselfer”. Seems to b…

Why produce the 2015 Permaculture Calendar?

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Principle 3: Obtain a yield

I've been working towards making a living from doing what I love. This has been a long process which has been helped by the fact that we live a simple lifestyle. Reducing our overheads so that our family of four only requires around AU$10,000 a year to cover our normal living expenses.

For the first time I have generated enough income through the ongoing development of the Permaculture Principles website to cover our living costs - the majority of that has come from the sale of the Permaculture Prinicples Calendar - which is now being distributed from partners in the UK, USA and NZ as well as from here in Australia at Abdallah House.

The sale of other permaculture publications, many of which I've been involved in producing, also contributes to the running of the website. Since July 2013 I've committed to putting a portion of this income aside, along with that of the calendar, to support the wider permaculture community.
Permafund It was importa…

Bringing Nicole Foss to Seymour

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Principle 8: Integrate rather than segrgate

While we have set ourselves up quite nicely on our small block, it's not enough. There's a lot that you can do to prepare for change, to reduce your overheads and provide for more of your own needs where you live, but if times really do get tough, what happens to everyone else? There's only so many pieces in my pie.

I've been following the work of Nicole Foss on her blog The Automatic Earth for a few years. She's helped me get my head around why another economic crisis is on the way and what we need to do to prepare for it. Realising the scale of change that we confront and the speed at which it will affect us has helped motivate me to raise this awareness in my local community.

On hearing of her latest tour I met with the new BEAM committee (I stepped down as president last month) to put forward a proposed event. With BEAM's support, I've taken it on and are bringing Nicole to Seymour on Thursday the 2nd of Octo…

Bathroom with a view (to the blue greenhouse) Part 2

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Principle 2: Catch and Store Energy

This project has been one of the ongoing ones, that just took a giant leap forward - after some gentle nudging from Peter Lockyer, the builder architect who I worked with. Nothing like a deadline to work to, and the deadline is the 2014 Sustainable House Day - on this weekend.

Some more about the progression of the greenhouse can be seen in the Bathroom with a view post.

Since moving in there has been many competing priorities on what to do first. The greenhouse kept getting put on the back burner and it was Peter who kept moving me along, beginning with the adding of the flashing on the timber frame back in October 2011.  Since then the project stalled until I asked Peter if he was interested in running tours with me for this years Sustainable House Day. "Maybe you should finish off that greenhouse" - um, okay. Wow, no wonder I put it off for so long, it ended up being a BIG job.

Flashing the blue greenhouse

The brickwork I'd been tos…

2014 Sustainable House Day - September 7th

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Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

Sustainable House’s all around Australia will be opening their properties and homes for the public to see how people are doing something to reduce their impact on the environment. 

We will be participating in the event again this year, opening our property to the public on the 7th of September from 10am till 4pm. Please bring a gold coin or two as a contribution. For directions to 1a Abdallah Road in Seymour click here.

You can find out more about the event and where homes are opening around Australia on the website.


Richard Telford and Peter Lockyer will be running tours on the hour: please try to arrive at 5 minutes before the hour so we can get moving on time. 

A little history of the project The project began in May 2008 in suburban Seymour, Central Victoria with the purchase of a three roomed bungalow with bathroom / laundry on a 584 sq metre (1/8 acre) block. The bungalow was carefully deconstructed and transformed to a new home t…

Black Market #3 at Abdallah House

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Design Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

We are hosting our third Black Market at our house this Saturday 9th of August 2014 from 10am - 12pm. All are welcome to come along to see how the market works and visit our property. Bring some home grown goodies to swap and share!

Richard Telford (that's me) will give a tour of Abdallah House, an urban example of low impact living with design features that include: a home grown deck, cool cupboard and cellar, passive solar design, food production, rainwater harvesting and is in the process of completing the greenhouse which is connected to the bathroom. There will also be some fermented goodies to try and cultures to share.

 I'll also have the very recently published 2015 Permaculture Calendar that I create available for sale on the day for a special low price. Also available online for those of you who can't make it.
How to get to Abdallah House: 1a Abdallah Road, Seymour From the supermarkets in the centre of Seymour…

Cooking without gas

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Principle 5: Use & value renewable resources & services

We've been giving some thought to how we cook. We've been using an old gas stove for  3-4 years, in combination with our wood stove. We've run our gas stove from a 45kg bottle, and used about one bottle a year. In attempting to provide for as many of our own needs as we can we decided to replace our gas cooker with a portable electric induction cooker.

According to an article I read recently, induction cookers are actually less efficient than a gas hob - but that does assume an electric grid efficiency of 40%. Being that we produce most of our own electricity with our grid interactive solar system the losses would be much less. The heat transfer loss of gas is much higher than induction, a lot of the heat goes around the pot and not into it - the induction cookers are more efficient in that area.

Another factor that we have considered is where gas comes from. Increasingly, fracking is a source of gas, and is …