2011 Sustainability Street Phillip Bay Highlights
Leeanne and I are convening a group of participants in CSIRO’s Energymark project which brings people together in small groups to learn about energy and climate change issues, and discuss what they can do to make a difference. Our first meeting was on March 9, 2011, and we plan to meet on the second Wednesday of the month unless school holidays get in the way!
On March 11, a film crew from UTS's Institute for Sustainable Futures used our place in a video as part of their Trade Secrets video project, funded by the then NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) as part of the NSW Energy Efficiency Training Program. The vid involves the development of concise, practical ‘green skills’ video segments that relate to energy efficiency.
Our sustainable house got coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald’s EarthHour spread on March 25, as well as being published online. BTW, I've composed a piece in honour of EarthHour called EarthView.
On April 1, we entered Sustainability Street Phillip Bay, in particular Oorana Ave, in Origin Energy’s Sustainability Drive competition on the recommendation of Peter Maganov, Randwick City Council’s Sustainability Officer. The prizes are compelling and include up to $12,500 worth of sustainable stuff for 20 houses in each of four winning street around Australia!
On Tuesday, April 19, Helen Wellings, consumer affairs presenter for Channel Seven’s Today Tonight program, popped over to interview me regarding our involvement in Energymark and what we have done to reduce our energy costs as well as our impact on the environment. The segment was aired on April 26. If you missed it, you can see it on their website above.
Our galvanized raised vegie beds arrived on April 20 and I started preparing the sites for their installation by removing our ailing lemon tree to garner more solar access.
As part of the Compost Revolution, Anna is leading a wormfarm workshop at our place on Saturday, April 30, followed by a community picnic straight after in Fred Williams Reserve, opposite our place.
I quite winter found us extending, preparing and planting our vegie garden beds, using permaculture principles, with Dutch cream spuds, silverbeet, leek, spring onions, celery, red cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, snow peas, various lettuce and herbs as well as four dwarf fruit trees. Later on we planted butternut pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, mini watermelon and eggplant. We used a variety of 'no dig' garden techniques and experimented with our own versions of them including a 'wicking bed' in a polystyrene box. We've decided against having chooks at this stage.
On July 4, the winners of Sustainability Drive were announced. Unfortunately we were not one of them. However, we were pleased to receive notification that we were in the top 150 of the total 9,000+ entries across four states!
On Sunday, September 11, we opened our home to visitors for Sustainable House Day 2011. We had 40+ keen folk look at our sustainable house improvements as well as many attend the Alternate Technology Association's (ATA) SHD event at Redfern Town Hall.
Also in September we join the campaign against coal seam gas (CGS) extraction that threatens our aquifers and ground water resources both in rural areas via the Lock the Gates Alliance and STOP CSG Sydney.
The Energymark Phillip Bay project ended on Wednesday, October 12, after eight monthly sessions. We learned a lot about from where the energy, upon which we rely so much, comes and how we can live more sustainably within the limits of the Earth's finite resources.
During November and December we started harvesting our crops. This has been the coolest and wettest spring/summer I can remember. We had over six weeks of consecutive rainwater tank supply but precious little sun to help the plants grow. Consequently, we had mixed success with the rogue cherry tomatoes, silverbeet and lettuce being most successful initially followed by butternut and zucchini later on. All our produce was organically grown tasted great! We'll be preparing our raised beds for their second, rotated crops early next year.
There is local concern about the threat of losing the local Chinese Market Gardens to the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park. We'll fight to keep this heritage site set apart from development of any kind and support it's retention as a food supply source for Sydney.
Below you can see some of our produce as well as a delicious vegie meal provided almost entirely from our garden.