Sunday, 6 December 2009

Walk Against Warming

Community Announcement.  My family and I will be there, will you?


12pm – 12/12/09 - State Library, Melbourne

This year, we’re sending a safe climate message to the world. Are you in?
This December, our world leaders are gathering to decide how much they’re prepared to do about climate change.
Join thousands of Victorian individuals and families concerned about climate change at this year’s Walk Against Warming, and help us form a massive human sign on Princes Bridge –  a sign so big they’ll get our safe climate message all the way over in Copenhagen.
The Walk Against Warming is Australia’s biggest day of community action on climate change.  Similar Walks will be happening across the country, and across the globe as communities everywhere come together to tell their leaders they want action for a safe climate. 
If you’ve ever replaced an old light globe with an energy efficient one, taken public transport instead of driving, switched to Green Power, or worried about the kind of world you’re going to leave to your kids, then the 2009 Walk Against Warming is for you!
So get your community, family, kids, friends and everyone else you know all together... and get them to Walk Against Warming on December 12! 
Help us make Melbourne's Walk Against Warming HUGE...
RSVP right now:    To get involved contact:
Spread the word - please forward this link far and wide if you live in the Greater Melbourne area.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Irrigation, and preparing for the summer heat in the veggie garden

The group got together for our monthly meeting this afternoon, and we had a great time learning about how Michael keeps his garden green during the summer months even with the scorching temperatures we have here in Melton.  He has a fantastic irrigation system set up that is all fed by rainwater and the bi-weekly mains water we are allowed whilst on water restrictions.

Just last Saturday his garden featured on Vasili’s Garden which airs on the community Channel 31.  It used to be shown on SBS.

Here is the write up about what Vasili thought about Michael’s garden; and here is the 25 minute episode which was very entertaining and the entire family got involved.

Here are some photos taken by Kim during the workshop.

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Some of the members listening intently to Michael,

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The proud gardener!
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Green everywhere.
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The runner bean bed.
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The broad beans are still going.

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How to stop birds from digging up you cucumbers and keep the soil moist at the same time.

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Sunflowers against the west wall.  They were about 5 foot high.
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More ways to keep the birds from digging up your plants.

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And finally a way to keep the cabbage moths off of your cabbages any time of the year.  A simple frame with mosquito netting.  It hides the shape of the plants, and stops the moths from laying eggs on the leaves.

His irrigation set up was all set up to work from low pressure rainwater that was gravity feed from smaller tanks set higher up on the property that he filled from his main tank.  His garden is an inspiration to anyone who wants to grow food in a dry area, as the west of Melbourne has now become, and all the member took away a swag of ideas on how to implement this type of garden into their own veggie patch.

From all the member, a big thank you to Michael and Carolyn for letting us into their home and showing us around there green oasis.  You were great hosts.

Guess what?  It is now raining for the first time in a month!  There will be full tanks for everyone tomorrow!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fun at the DJ Festival

All I can say is that I believe that our stand at the DJ festival was a success and fun to boot.  Not only did we get the message out into the community that we exist, met many like minded people from other environmental groups in our shire, we made $121 for the group by selling plants grown by Michael, Jan and Gavin, chicken and duck eggs donated by Jan, and T-Shirts and hats for members provided by Kim.  I must say the the Sunflower plants were the biggest seller of the day followed by the salad gardens and the multitude of heirloom tomatoes.

It was a great day, and it was good to see that many members and volunteers were able to man the stand throughout the day.  Here are some photos of the event taken early in the morning.

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Setting up at the start of the day

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The first shift.  Left to right; Amanda, Amy & David

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Inside the marquee as you move from left to right; The Gardening Panel. 

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Green Cleaning and Energy efficiency panels

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Poultry and Preserving & Baking panels

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Finally the Waste and Water panels.

There were free ReNew and G magazines, lots of informational booklets and even a renters guide to going green.  We gave away about 40% of the booklets, so there was quite an interest in what we were doing.  We had 10 people who were interested in further information about the next meeting, which I thought was fantastic. 

All in all, a great event.  Many thanks to all who contributed to make it as successful as it was.  Special thanks to Iramoo for the loan of the display boards; Sustainability Victoria, Environment Victoria, Iramoo, Melbourne Water, and the ATA for all the educational material; and to Kim for all the hard work on the pictures and laminating.

See you all at the next meeting as it will be very informative.  It is a workshop at Michael Howard’s house and we will be learning how Michael prepares his veggie patch for the scorching summer ahead and how to still have a productive patch.

For details of the groups activities and when meetings are held, please call Kim on 03 97473616 for further information.

Warm regards,

Gavin Webber, President

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Djerriwarrah Festival

November 7th, our Sustainable Living Group has a stand at the annual DJ festival.  We will be located in the Environmental Hub which I believe will be on the grassed area near the Honey Shack across High Street from the Community Hall.  We will be there from 0900 - 1700. 

The stall will be manned by willing volunteers (members & friends) who are more than willing to share their own sustainable living journeys with anyone who pays us a visit.  We will also be selling some vegetable seedlings with all proceeds going back into the group. 

We will have educational displays and many donated handouts about the following themes;
  • Growing your own food
  • Water saving (rain water harvesting/grey water use)
  • Renewable energy
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Urban poultry
  • Energy conservation,
  • and much more!
Come along, drop by and you will learn to save money and preserve the environment.  You may even want to join our group!  New members are always welcome.

Warm regards,

Gavin Webber

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Local Cheese Making Courses

Hi Members and Friends,

Great news for those who expressed interest in cheese making courses.  There will be two courses held at the Melton South Community Centre in November 2009.  Here are the details from the Melton Shire Learning Directory Term 4:

Cheese Making - Basic Class

Make your choice of either Wensleydale, Feta, Haloumi, Parmesan or Cheddar. You can then add your own spices and flavours to personalise you cheese.
Date: Sunday 8 November 2009 from 10.00am - 3.00pm
Cost: $55.00 includes lunch
Contact:    Melton South Community Centre

Cheese Making - Mould Course
Choose from Brie, Camembert, Blue Vein or Stilton. These soft cheeses have the addition of either white or blue mould and have a slightly different preparation technique.
Date:    Sunday 15 November 2009 from 10.00am - 3.00pm
Cost:    $65.00 includes lunch
Contact: Melton South Community Centre

To book call the community centre direct during business hours.
Melton South Community Centre Inc
26 Exford Rd, Melton South

Be quick as these courses fill up fast.  I have previously attended both courses and found them fun and stimulating.  As most of the members know, I went on to make many cheeses and it is now one of my main hobbies.

To read about the cheese making courses I attended, have a read of "Homemade Feta, or Gromit I Found the Cheese!" which describes my experiance at the basic cheese course, and "Stilton, or I Got The Stinky Blues!", which describes the mould course.  Like I said, I had a ball and the instructors were knowledgable and helpful during both days.

I hope that you find the time to give it a go.  Artisan cheese making was a skill that until a few years ago that was nearly dead in this country.  There has been a big resurgence of late to relearn these disappearing arts, so lets help revive it further.  Wouldn't it be great to have a MSLG meeting next year just to sample home made produce and cheese?  You can't get much more sustainable by making your own cheese, other than owning your own cow or goat that is!


Tuesday, 6 October 2009 - 24th October 2009

As discussed at the last meeting, here is some more information about campaigns in our local area.  Click on the links for more information.

The Big Picture hosted by BREAZE in Ballarat.

ATA's 350 Photo Challenge.  Danni, and I have already submitted photos to this campaign.

and finally, on Friday 23rd October, MGC Pedal Powered Launch Party.  They are powering the event using Future Spark to generate enough electricity into the grid to power the show.  Comedian Rod Quantock will MC the entertainment and perform his show, “Bugger the Polar Bears, this is serious” starting at 7pm.  I wrote about Rod Quantocks show on a post called "Rod Quantock's Guide to Climate Change". 

As for our own campaign, I am all ears, but we will need to act fast!  Post ideas for a local Melton event via comments so that we can organise something quickly, or if we can't organise quickly enough then I can contact the Melbourne Girls College for tickets to the show on Friday, and contact BREAZE regarding attendance at the Big Picture.  Car pooling where we can of course to get to these events if that is what we choose to do.

For an explanation of what all the hullabaloo is all about, click the graph above for a simple explanation of the science of climate change and what the number 350 is all about!

I have dual posted this at both the Melton Sustainable Living Group site and The Greening of Gavin in the hope to capture the hearts and souls of concerned Melton Locals.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

An Eye on Climate Change

I recently received an email from Rodney Dekker, a local Melton resident who is married to Desrae, one of the friends of the MSLG. He is a freelance photo journalist focused on climate change storytelling.

He has travelled to Bangladesh and made a story board for Oxfam about the effects of a cyclone that occurred in 2007 that killed tens of thousands of people in low laying areas of the country.  Here is a video of what he saw.  It is quite powerful and eye opening.

The images he took are a timely reminder of why the up-coming negotiations at Copenhagen in December are so important, and this may be the last chance we have to set realistic targets that reverse or at least stabilise the climate before the human race creates climate chaos by our own negligence.  I for one feel ashamed that our country has the dubious honour of over taking the USA as the worst polluters per capita in the world.  Australia will be and has been the first developed nation that is already seeing the impact of this global inaction. This needs to change big time.  We need to campaign harder to avert this disaster.  Oxfam Australia have a petition and letter to send to the Climate Change Minister, Hon Penny Wong about strengthening  Australia’s Green House Gas targets.  Here is the link to demanding stronger climate change action.  I urge anyone who cares about future generations to send this urgent message to our elected officials.

Rodney has offered to do a slide show for us at one of the meetings.  I think we should take him up on his offer in December and invite as many guest and friends as we can.

You can see more of his work at




Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sustainable House Day

Don't forget that Sunday 13th September is Sustainable House Day.  If anyone is interested in visiting a few homes in our area have a look at the link for details.

If a few members want to get together and have a look at a few within a 100km radius of Melton, let me know, we may be able to organise a quick excursion.  Happy to give the Hybrid a flog for the day!  Email me at my normal address if interested.


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Meeting Tomorrow 30th July

Fellow Members and interested locals,
The next meeting of the Melton Sustainable Living Group Inc. will be held on Thursday 30th July from 7-9pm at the Melton Community Hall, Meeting room 4.
We will start off with a short presentation about "Saving money through energy efficiency".
I also would like to spend some time as a group brainstorming/thinking/talking about a project that will benefit  the community and promote Sustainable Living in the shire.  Now that we are a little larger in size, I believe it is time to kick off a project that will help keep us and other like minded people engaged for the longer term.

Also, please feel free to pass this email to anyone who you think would be interested in attending.
Hope to see you all there.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Fun at CERES Community Environment Park

Well, what a great day out we had on Saturday!  Only a few members came along, but we had a great time at CERES this weekend.

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There was Gavin, Michael, David, Kim and Ben and Liam.  Kim was taking the photos.  We spent about 3 hours walking around the Community Environment Park, and it was great fun.  Here are a few photos of our visit.

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Renewable energy galore!

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Now that is what I call a bakery.  Ben sampled a croissant and said it was yummy!

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This is where the Cafe gets most of its food from.

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Fresh organic fruit.  The labels even had the food miles listed on them.

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Organic Free Range chickens of the ISA Brown variety.  They had so much land to run around in.  About 2 acres I reckon.

ben photos 316The cob oven was pretty cool.  It even had its own herbs growing on top of it.

ben photos 325  With wonderful mosaics.  Kim wanted to give it a go.  There were mosaics all over the park and it added a lot of colour to a winters day.

ben photos 327 Michael and Gavin checking out the greywater pond after it had been filtered by reed beds.  The water was used to irrigate the Village Green.

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The propagating tables were to die for.  Such a large area to grow seedlings in and so well organised.

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And of course what would an Environment Park be without a Yurt.  It looked very cozy.

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The mud brick house was well constructed, however it was put together using concrete mortar which kind of defeated the purpose.

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There were so many community garden plots that we lost count.  Mind you, we looked at every single one to check out what was growing and if our veggie patches were on par!

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We learnt that you can grow garlic in any sized spot.

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Early broccoli under netting so the cabbage moths don’t get to them.  Beautifully grown, and pest free.

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Some exquisite photography by Kim in the other grey water pond.  The Egret looked very much at home.  I love the reflection in the water.

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The Sustainable House with Zero Emissions Vehicle (Electric Car) in the driveway.  This retrofitted house was state of the art about 10 years ago when it was first fitted out.

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The waterwheel had a 200 litre header tank that was filled by a massive windmill.   The water was acting like a big battery that made sure that the waterwheel kept the generator supplying electricity.  I think that I could rig up something around the pool to generate base load for the house at night.

ben photos 403 There is a massive solar PV farm.  Unfortunately the meters that tell you exactly how much energy they are generating were broken.  Such a shame as I would have loved to know whether CERES was a net exporter.

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This small wind turbine was spinning so fast, but difficult to see.  It was so quite as well.  Perfect for a residential area.  I believe that it was producing about 400w.

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And the recycling areas were very comprehensive.  Michael noted that one of the bins was a worm farm and you simply throw your organic waste straight to the worms!

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And finally we ended up at the nursery in which all the plants were edible.  There was not one ornamental in sight.

Well that is the end of the tour.  For those who missed it, I encourage you to take the time to visit this wonderful park. 

I felt like I was amongst likeminded people who really cared about the planet.



Sunday, 28 June 2009

Evening Meeting – 2 July 2009

This fortnight we have an evening meeting on Thursday, 2nd July, at the Melton Community Hall, meeting room 4, from 7-9pm.  The meeting will start dead on 7.00pm as we have a full programme, so please be a little early.  The hall will be open from 6.30pm onwards.  I have invited the team at ecoMaster to come along and present to us, and they have kindly accepted. 


Listed below is what they intend on covering in two presentations;

The most effective presentation would be about the Fed. Govt program which starts on 1st July.  Our group will be the first ever group in Australia to be presented with the Home Sustainability Assessments and the Green Loans program.

We will cover:

  • LYN:
    what is a home sustainability assessment and how does that work with a 'green loan'
  • what is the purpose of the green loans scheme

  • potential benefits

  • the 'mechanics' of the scheme 
    eligibility for the loans e.g. must you be a homeowner or is it open to the landlords of rental properties

  • restrictions on the amounts of loans

  • options in finance choices

  • are loans secured through mortgages of some sort

  • interest rates

  • What is the role of the Home Sustainability Assessor

  • what is the fee for assessing a home, how much and who pays for it
  • Are there benefits to having a Home Assessment done as opposed to a homeowner deciding themselves on what they want done and borrowing for that purpose
  • How long does it take to do an assessment
  • Who receives copies of the Assessment
  • The independence of the Assessor

This should be approximately 30mins followed by 15 min question time.

  • Will address the following matters in regard to technology and factors which influence the selection or choices:
  • draught proofing
  • fireplaces and chimneys
  • window glazing
  • floor,wall and roof insulation
  • water systems including size of rainwater tanks, types of tanks e.g. steel  v plastic, when grey water systems are viable
    sources of energy - e.g. when solar power is suitable
  • outdoor blinds
  • use of vegetation to reduce heat

This should be approximately 30mins followed by 15 min question time.

I do believe that it will be one informative night and I hope you can all attend, and please feel free to bring along any friends or family who are interested.

Kind regards,

Gavin Webber,


Melton Sustainable Living Group Inc.