Abdallah House This place is big thinking and big impact, in a small space. Richard Telford and his partner Kunie bought an old energy guzzling bungalow on a small (584sq m) block in Seymour, possibly the worst house in town, and have transformed it into a showcase of sustainable design. It’s about energy and nutrient cycling, building community, self-reliance, creatively using & reusing materials… all without spending heaps of money. Richard and Kunie garden in small spaces, educate their children, re-use grey water in the soil under their grape vines, work from a home office, and live very comfortably in their attractive re-built compact house, without debt. For more information, see their case study on retrosuburbia.com
Black Barn Farm Jade and Charlie Showers have been pouring their considerable energy and skills into this ambitious family enterprise and home since 2016. They are in the throes of establishing a biodiverse orchard, nursery and learning space. Their plans are meticulous, buildings are being retrofitted, the apple orchard is establishing, and their tree nursery enterprise started by raising about 1500 fruit trees for their own planting back in winter 2018.
Charlie did the Murrnong PDC in 2016, as did Jade in 2018.
Elise Anderson and husband Jim live on a half acre block in the town of Alexandra. When they moved in they had a blank canvas, with a never lived-in house and an empty sloping site with only a couple of large trees. 7 years and two kids later, they have worked on improving the energy efficiency and liveability of the house, as well as water collection and storage capacity. Most of the garden is less than four years old – it took a few years to settle on a design – but as well as being family friendly is becoming more productive every year.
Elise did the Murrnong PDC in 2018.
Jodie and Lachy and Ferg Morrison’s place in Alexandra is so beautifully put together, with garden skill and infrastructure skill, that even the garden shed looks good enough to be a liveable cottage. Jodie did a pdc in Western Australia in 1998, and she and Lachy (and sometimes Ferg) did the Murrnong PDC together in 2020.
Kim Carter’s place in Numurkah is a relatively young revamp that has been coming along fast. With partner Bernie Cook’s complementary ‘resource procurement’ and construction skills, along with Kim’s artist’s eye, the couple have transformed a quarter acre block into a productive food haven using permaculture design. Harnessing the power of hot compost, chooks, guinea pigs and bees, their property yielded over 300 kg of fruit and veg, hundreds of eggs and 70kg of honey just in 2020. This place is packed with nifty ideas and is constantly evolving with new projects on the go. Kim and Bernie did the Murrnong PDC together in 2019.
Warrenbayne Farm Collective is all about carbon draw-down, biodiversity, local food systems, happy animals, and removing rusty barbed wire (ok, all barbed wire!). They are also developing an interesting model of a non-profit entity, transitioning land from private ownership towards custodianship, and embedding a commitment to regenerative agriculture that can’t be undone, setting the scene for broad participation and secure tenure, including the wider community beyond the farm gate.
Brian’s garden, Seymour What can you do with a dry stony hillside with only about 3cm of topsoil, under established grey box trees? Brian Bowring is a skilled gardener and net-worker with great experience. His gardening style is social, with productive friendships that allow him to gather waste resources for garden use, connect and share information and resources with other growers. His system for collection/composting of local stable wastes helped inspire this research, although his own backyard scale research is probably the most valuable. He also keeps bees, propagates fruit trees, and is a keen grafter. Brian will probably also take us to visit Somerset Heritage Produce, where he helps out.
Energy efficiency retrofit of the Violet Town community buildings
We are not all going to build new ecological buildings, we need to make the buildings we already have work better. See what kind of tweaks can be made to diverse existing built spaces to make them function much better. These spaces were variously poorly insulated, dark, cold, hot, too sunny in summer, and drafty. David Arnold lead the retrofit project for these buildings.
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