Sunday, 31 July 2016

Organic, Simple, Natural, Affordable & Plastic-Free Hair Care

I'd never thought before of washing my hair with a bar of soap. I'd always assumed that I needed shampoo and conditioner. I'm about to test out washing with bar soap and rinsing with apple cider vinegar. Many of you may have tried this before and I'd love to hear of your experiences. 

As plastic-free July draws to a close, I find myself still stopping each time I find another thing that always enters my house in plastic and consider the alternatives. This is today's new experiment. Shampoo bars can contribute to a zero plastic waste household. I think they'd be a handy thing to travel with too - no oozing bottles.

In the past, I have tried to choose the most natural shampoos and conditioners I can find. However the list of ingredients is still long and incomprehensible, and the plastic packaging significant, - even if recyclable. Besides, those shampoos are loaded with so many synthetic materials and chemicals that I can actually no longer use them - my scalp screams and my eyes hurt. Beware of the commercial shampoo bars - they are full of chemicals too.

I really like refilling my old bottles with bulk shampoos from my local cooperative shop, but now it's time for something different - a new experiment in simplifying:


  • Shampoo: Paper-wrapped organic fair trade bar soap
  • Conditioner: Diluted Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse (bought bulk in glass jars). Use 1tbsp to 250 mls water.


Shampoo Bar
I'm pretty keen to embark on some of my own soap making soon using natural ingredients - such as coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and natural essential oils. Until I do, I'm going to buy some natural bar soap. Actually I am going to begin with the bar I bought for my DIY laundry powder and go from there.

My inspiration for this was reading the packaging of the Dr Bonner's soap package and seeing it was good for hair too. I have been enjoying the peppermint one grated into my laundry powder mix and of course as a hand and body wash. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
After washing my hair, I'm going to try rinsing with raw apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp: 250 mls water). It is meant to help balance hair pH, remove the build up of silicone sludge from commercial hair products, smooth the hair cuticles, treat an itchy dry scalp, work as a natural de-tangler and promote healthy hair growth.  Just pour it on (avoiding eyes), massage in then rinse - you don't need a conditioner. While your hair is drying it may smell of vinegar, but once it's dry, the smell goes.

I love multifunctional things - a great permaculture principle. It makes me wonder why we clutter up our laundries and bathrooms with so many products when a handful of good ones can do the job of many.

I'll let you know how I go with this and would love to hear your experiences of abandoning commercial shampoos and conditioners.




Friday, 29 July 2016

Think Global: Eat Local - a short film by Morag Gamble

My short film Think Global: Eat Local is a celebration of local food systems in communities around the world - including farmers' markets, food box systems, food coops, community farms, community gardens, school gardens and home gardens.

Me threshing grain in Ladakh, India in the early 1990s - here I learnt the importance and significance of local food. 

The film touches on many of the issues caused by and impacting upon our current unsustainable food system including climate change and peak oil, and points to the relocalisation of food systems as a key strategy for working toward a more ecologically sustainable, healthy and socially just society.

I made this film in 2008, but I find the issues all are still very current and the examples of ways forward possibly even more pertinent now. I will be following up each of the key themes introduced in this film in the short films I am making each week and posting on my youtube channel: Our Permaculture Life. You can subscribe there so each week you'll get another short film about permaculture, ecovillage living and sustainable local food systems.






PEOPLE INTERVIEWED

Fritjof Capra (source: www.fritjofcapra.net)
 There are interviews with:
• Dr Fritjof Capra - Author, Physicist, Educator, Activist
• Morag Gamble - Permaculture/Community Food Educator, Designer, Writer
• Evan Raymond - Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation
• Kirsten Lyons - Associate Professor  Social Science (incl. Food Politics)
• Les Nichols - Community Supported Agriculture/Farmers Market
• Anaheke Metua - City Farmer/Farmers Market Organiser/Weaver
• Sequoia River - Farm Shop
• Isabella Siodmak - Natural Health Practitioner, Natural Attitudes
• Chris Bond - Chef

COUNTRIES VISITED

The film includes footage and images taken over a 15 year period in 15 countries by Morag Gamble and Evan Raymond:
• Australia
• Bulgaria
• Bahamas
• China
• Cuba
• Denmark
• Germany
• India
• Indonesia
• Slovenia
• Spain
• South Korea
• Turkey
• United Kingdom
• USA

Maple Street Cooperative - my favourite local food store.

ABOUT THE FILM

This film was made in 2008 with the support of the Maleny Film Society and launched at the 2008 Maleny Film Festival (hence the many examples from Maleny). Since then, it has been screened around the world by community groups looking to cultivate change in their local area, and in schools to raise awareness about local food issues.

Directed by: Morag Gamble and Evan Raymond
Editorial Director: Gregor Gamble

Thursday, 28 July 2016

3 Simple Ways to Save & 10 Good Reasons to Do This

These three simple ways to save will help you to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. But spending less is about so much more than just saving money - living well on less is so positive on many levels. From a permaculture perspective it also supports the 3 core ethics of earth care, people care & fair share.

By spending less, I can work less. With my spare time, I get to hang out with my family more in the garden, and even have the opportunity to homeschool them.

Spending less, amongst other things, means:

  1. we use/have less stuff
  2. we save energy
  3. we create less waste 
  4. we create less pollution
  5. we save money for important things and the good stuff
  6. we share and exchange things more
  7. we are encouraged to repair, reuse and up-cycle things.  
  8. we have less stuff to clean and put away 
  9. we could work fewer hours and have more time to pursue 'passion-projects'.
  10. we get to spend more time with family, friends and community

The 'pots and pans' drum kit is just perfect, and far more robust than the plastic drum kits for little kids.

So here's the 3 simple ways to save money....

  1. Use CASH - studies have shown that you spend at least more than 20% more if you use plastic.
  2. Go shopping with a LIST - and try to stick to it - have a standing list of basics.
  3. Create a BUDGET for weekly spending - and try to stick to this too.

7 Questions to Ask:

Seems too simple, bit if you stick to it you will be amazed what a difference it makes. Also, you may like to try asking these questions before buying something:

  1. Do I actually need this (or is it just a 'want')?
  2. Is there a better way I could be spending this money?
  3. Is there something growing locally, in my garden?
  4. Could I make this? 
  5. Do I have an old one I can mend? 
  6. Could I get it second hand?
  7. Can I share buying this with others, borrow it from a friend, (or join a tool library, for example)?

I go shopping for my basic weekly supplies at my local organic coop store and buy bulk foods in recyclable and reusable packaging. I love this store and often bump into friends.


Voluntary simplicity, also known sometimes as downshifting, cultivates a level of resilience and abundance thinking. It also helps us to keep in mind the really important things in life and spend more time doing the things we love.

Growing food in home or community gardens is a great way to save on the food bill.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Film #5: How to Make a Worm Tower

Worm towers are a super simple way to turn your food scraps into fabulous plant and soil food - in situ in your vegetable garden - no double handling.

It's a great urban garden strategy - easily tucked into small space gardens. I love them in my no-dig gardens, but they are suitable too for raised beds and even large pots.

Take a look at this short film (7 mins) I just made in my garden to explain the concept and show you how to make one.


Also take a look at a previous post I have written on this topic:

If you

Take a look at my other short films:


In my award-winning garden, Crystal Waters Permaculture Village. I'll be teaching a Permaculture Design Course here from August 29 - Sept 9





Film #2: Our Permaculture Life: Community Permaculture Garden (9 mins 30 secs)


At the Yandina Community Gardens - I'll be teaching a Permaculture course there each Friday from 23 September.


In my award-winning garden, Crystal Waters Permaculture Village








My presentation at the Queensland Garden Expo in July 2016 about the incredible edible plants I love to have in my garden and why.

Monday, 25 July 2016

A car alternative

I heard a story today that apparently Henry Ford's wife used to drive an electric, but the electricity grid wasn't developed back then to make it a viable technology. It is now!

I am exploring ways of reducing the use of our car out here at the ecovillage - to move both people and things around. I ride my bike whenever I can, but there's times I need more space.

I came across this 6 seater golf cart which could be retrofitted with solar panels on it's roof to generate all the power in needs for local trips...seriously considering pursuing this. If I need more charge than this, I can plug it into my existing solar system at home.

Any other ideas?

I'm looking at getting a plug-in solar electric golf buggy for family use, workshops, education and giving tours of the ecovillage.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Finding Family Time

Finding meaningful family time is so important. We can too often become so busy in our lives that we forget to enjoy each other's company and the place we call home. I love our afternoon walks around our neighbourhood and in the wild spaces, especially down along the river - to breathe, to talk, to be silent together, to connect, to explore. Today we spotted a beautiful little owl. 

Mealtimes are also times of day we all come together, but they are usually quite loud and chaotic affairs...wonderful, but quite different from our nature walks. We always come home feeling uplifted and calm.

What ways do you find regular family time to connect?







Thursday, 21 July 2016

Permaculture for teenagers

Evan and I run Earth School Permaculture Camps for 14-16 year old children from our home at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village.

Here are a few images from the action today with a year 11 geography group on a 3 day camp (43 students). Wonderful to have our homeschooled kids participating too...















Tuesday, 19 July 2016

500 billion cups of coffee

Do you also find it absurd that half the world's plastics are used only once before ending up in landfill? And can you believe that we throw away 500 billion coffee cups a year after just one use? That's a million a minute. An estimated 1 billion in Australia alone.

(Image: www.mbnep.org)

Coffee cups hare estimated to be the second- largest contributor to litter after plastic bottles.

We have indeed become a very wasteful species. Do we believe we are somehow living outside (or above) the natural ecological system, and the natural limits of this beautiful blue planet?

Ecological footprint studies show that we would need four Earth's if everyone on the planet lived like the average Australian (using as many resources and wasted as much). Four Earths? We only have one!

I know I am preaching to the converted here, but In just about every aspect of our lives we need to do things differently.

Because it's Plastic Free July, I thought I'd take a look at one of the big single use plastic wastes we create - the waste associated with the exponential growth of our collective caffeine habit. We call them paper cups but actually most are lined with plastic and cannot be recycled.

I do love coffee. I grew up in Melbourne with quaint cafes making magnificent coffee in colourful ceramic cups. I think I also came to love coffee because of the associations - meeting with friends, having great discussions; but also having personal free-thinking time - just me, a coffee, a blank-page notebook and artists pen. Mind-maps would start forming across the pages uncontrollably....I still find myself doing this. Even today, I had 15 minutes before having to pick up the kids, so I sat in a Maleny Cafe with my large cup of coffee, a big glass of water, and A3 drawing book and a pen. I mapped out a 3 day workshop program - magic!




Back in the 1980s, I hardly ever saw take-away coffee cups. Take-away cups were the stuff of fast food joints.  I remember seeing people walking around with take-away coffee cups in the United States during a visit around 2000 and thinking how good it was that still Australians mostly sat down to have their coffee... it wasn't for much longer though.

Let's abandon the throw-away culture and become part of the re-user revolution.

In this context, we can simply:

  1. start drinking coffee in ceramic cups again at the cafe - slow down and enjoy...
  2. bring your own re-usable cup for take-aways and office use
  3. if you do  happen to get a take-away, refuse a lid and chose a cafe that has compostable cups
  4. take a thermos from home
  5. drink water instead :-) .... in a reusable container of course!






Monday, 18 July 2016

Film #4: Incredible Edibles Talk with Morag Gamble at the QLD Garden Expo

I love edible perennial plants and self-seeding annuals - they make gardening so much easier and very productive. I rely on these plants as the backbone of my edible landscape because they provide such resilience and abundance. They are so useful for food, fibre, fodder, teas, medicine, mulch, organic matter, income ...

I filmed my talk about Incredible Edibles at the Kitchen Garden Stage of the incredibly popular Queensland Garden Expo on July 10. In this talk, I share my passion for and knowledge about a some of my favourite plants and strategies. The plants I talk about here are also very helpful for verge gardeners, small space gardeners and community gardeners.

Congratulations and thank you to all the volunteers who set up the WONDERFUL edible demonstration gardens at the Expo with the verge garden theme - a huge effort!! It was great to ramble through it with Costa Georgiadis, Jerry Coleby-Williams and chat with old and new friends.


This recording is 42 mins.





FILMING NOTE: This is the first time I have tried to film my own talk (I usually have a helper) and of course, I forgot about the camera. At one stage I moved too close - oops - half a head.  A few minutes later I realise and move back again - please excuse this!

Take a look at my other short films:


 In my award-winning garden, Crystal Waters Permaculture Village. I'll be teaching a Permaculture Design Course here from August 29 - Sept 9





Film #2: Our Permaculture Life: Community Permaculture Garden (9 mins 30 secs)


At the Yandina Community Gardens - I'll be teaching a Permaculture course there each Friday from 23 September.


In my award-winning garden, Crystal Waters Permaculture Village

Permaculture Design Course, August 29 - Sept 9 


with Morag Gamble and Friends Crystal Waters, QLD Australia

This is a wonderfully practical permaculture course embedded in the beautiful Crystal Waters ecovillage setting and Morag's abundant permaculture gardens there. Morag is an passionate permaculture teacher with a great depth of knowledge - she lives the permaculture life and has taught around the world.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Improve Your Garden Soil and Food Quality with Home-made Biochar & cook with it too!

WHAT IS BIOCHAR?

“Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future. The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. ”  
Prof. Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year


Biochar is a type of charcoal, a carbon-rich material produced by burning biomass in the absence of oxygen - slow pyrolysis (Image: Hans Erken)

Simple home-made biochar maker - the flame cap kiln. Design and Photo: Hans Erken

Boichar made in the the flame cap kiln. Design and Photo: Hans Erken


THE BENEFITS OF BIOCHAR

Biochar enhances soils and makes it more fertile. It also increases the capacity of the soil to sequester carbon.

When biochar is added into the soil it creates homes for microorganisms, increases the water holding capacity of soils, adsorbs nutrients, aerates soil, breaks up clay - healthier soil grows healthier plants that are more nutrient dense - so it's good for the environment and supports the growing of healthier food too.

Biochar production is inspired by the soils created by indigenous people in Amazon Basin - islands of rich, fertile soils called terra preta ("dark earth"). 

THE USES OF BIOCHAR

There are many uses for biochar - improving soil, sequestering carbon, fuel for cooking, heat for power generation. It is also useful in water filtration, insulation, energy storage and much more (read the link below - 55 Uses for Biochar). In this article they argue thaBiochar so valuable that it should be used at least once before getting worked into the soil.

In the garden, Biochar can be scattered out but it's best mixed with compost or liquid fertilisers, and added into no-dig gardens, and covered with mulch.

How to activate your Biochar  (Image: The Biochar Project)

LEARN TO MAKE & USE BIOCHAR


BIOCHAR WORKSHOP
Teacher: Hans Erken, Earthcare Enterprises
When: August 20, from 10am - 4pm
Where:The workshop will be at Maleny in the morning to see Han's innovative technologies and learn how to use and cook with biochar, and we'll move to Crystal Waters in the afternoon to learn how to make biochar.
Who: Anyone interested in biochar for growing and cooking
Cost: $85, includes a lovely lunch
Bookings: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/permaculture-life-series-biochar-how-to-make-and-use-tickets-26626576808

About the workshop:
I have been fascinated for some time with biochar and have wanted to learn how to make it. I've invited Hans Erken, a local biochar enthusiast innovator to lead a workshop with the Ethos Foundation to share with us what it's all about. He will explore:
  • what is biochar
  • the benefits of biochar
  • ways to use biochar in the garden
  • how can you use the energy created during biochar production
  • how do you make biochar while cooking
  • how do you make biochar on a small and medium scale



Making biochar in the flame cap kiln: Image and design: Hans Erken

Here are some photos from the workshop he ran in 2012. Biochar Workshop Images

Meet Hans Erken and see a little bit of what you will learn in this 2 minute clip:







MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BIOCHAR

Biochar - DPI NSW
What is Biochar? - Biochar International Initiative
Biochar Basics - ANZ Biochar Researchers Network
Soil and Water Benefits of Biochar - US Biochar Initiative
Biochar Project - Australia 
55 Uses of Biochar

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Education as if the earth mattered: Green Universities, Permaculture and Centres for Positive Change

Education of a different kind, for the whole person, for a positive and peaceful, ecological future is what the world needs. Over the past 25 years I have spent time in many amazing places that offer this kind of educational experience. They have transformed my thinking, my attitudes, my direction in life, sense of purpose, my capacity for action and my passion for life.



Around the world there are a number of centres that fully engage you intellectually, practically and emotionally.  I call them centres for positive change and below I've provided links to some I personally know.

One of the most transformative experiences for me was spending about a year at Schumacher College in England, as a student in 1992 and as a guest scholar on a course called Design for Life in 2003 with Janine Benyus (biomimicry). The course I ran was also a Permaculture Design Course. Schumacher College is essentially a green university - I love it!

Back in 1992, I so was incredibly inspired by learning at Schumacher College with people such as Fritjof Capra, Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Satish Kumar.  Immediately after taking courses at the college I made a pilgrimage around the UK to places such as Findhorn, Scotland and the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales.

I had also arranged with Helena to volunteer in Ladakh with her at the Ladakh Project (Local Futures). While in India, I also visited Vandana's Navdanya Project (since evolved into Bija Vidyapeeth or Earth University). My mind was exploded and my heart sang with possibilities.



A few years later, I visited Fritjof Capra a few times in Berkeley California. He introduced me to the Center for Ecoliteracy which he founded and the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center  - places rethinking education and supporting teachers to change. Creating opportunities for children to experience connection with nature and to be exposed to ecological systems thinking has been at the forefront of my work since. (Fritjof had also been a regular teacher at the Esalen Institute.)




ETHOS FOUNDATION 

Back at home, I have been persistently passionate about creating similar opportunities here in Australia for locals and for people around the world who would love to come together to:
  • connect with nature, community and self
  • deepen our understanding of the ecological paradigm 
  • explore thinking and ideas that will help guide us towards a sustainable future
  • experience a different, more connected way of living and thinking 
  • learn very practical skills for living simply and sustainably
  • nurture young leaders in sustainability
  • offer nature connected education for children
After many years - helping to start Northey Street City Farm, the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network, school garden projects,  Local Futures study circles, offering permaculture education in 20 countries, I am now focussing all my efforts on creating a space for head, heart and hands learning, predominantly based here at the ecovillage.



This is what my organisation the Ethos Foundation, a not-for-profit charity, is all about. I have created programs such as Nature Kids, Young Ethos Scholars, and Permaculture Life and will be offering a few Permaculture Design Courses (PDC) each year. I see the PDC is an amazing door to a more sustainable way of life.


Ethos Foundation Permaculture Design Course - August 29 - Sept 9

I hope you can join me from August 29 - Sept 9 for an excitingly practical, intellectually stimulating and incredibly relaxing time here at Crystal Waters, where I have been living for the past 18 years. This course integrates my learnings from Ladakh, Schumacher, and all the other centres. I will be joined by indigenous leader Wiruungga, the amazing Robina McCurdy from New Zealand's Tui Community. We'll visit Maleny's amazing coops including: Maple Street Organic Food Cooperative and the Maleny Credit Union. We'll explore the ecovillage at Crystal Waters, the wonderful neighbouring Baranbali Farm, and visit school and community gardens in the region.

More information about the course will be uploaded to this website very soon. Please contact me for more information.


Films about amazing centres for learning: 

Here are a few of the places which significantly influenced my thinking over the decades:

Schumacher College England

(with Vandana Shiva and Satish Kumar, Polly Higgins, Stephan Harding, Terry Irwin)


Earth University, India



Findhorn Foundation, Scotland

Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales



Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, California




Local Futures (A short version of their recent film, The Economics of Happiness)



Center for Ecoliteracy (school garden program)

Esalen Institute, USA





Education as if the earth mattered: Green Universities, Permaculture and Centres for Positive Change

Education of a different kind, for the whole person, for a positive and peaceful, ecological future is what the world needs. Over the past 25 years I have spent time in many amazing places that offer this kind of educational experience. They have transformed my thinking, my attitudes, my direction in life, sense of purpose, my capacity for action and my passion for life.



Around the world there are a number of centres that fully engage you intellectually, practically and emotionally.  I call them centres for positive change and below I've provided links to some I personally know.

One of the most transformative experiences for me was spending about a year at Schumacher College in England, as a student in 1992 and as a guest scholar on a course called Design for Life in 2003 with Janine Benyus (biomimicry). The course I ran was also a Permaculture Design Course. Schumacher College is essentially a green university - I love it!

Back in 1992, I so was incredibly inspired by learning at Schumacher College with people such as Fritjof Capra, Vandana Shiva, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Satish Kumar.  Immediately after taking courses at the college I made a pilgrimage around the UK to places such as Findhorn, Scotland and the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales.

I had also arranged with Helena to volunteer in Ladakh with her at the Ladakh Project (Local Futures). While in India, I also visited Vandana's Navdanya Project (since evolved into Bija Vidyapeeth or Earth University). My mind was exploded and my heart sang with possibilities.



A few years later, I visited Fritjof Capra a few times in Berkeley California. He introduced me to the Center for Ecoliteracy which he founded and the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center  - places rethinking education and supporting teachers to change. Creating opportunities for children to experience connection with nature and to be exposed to ecological systems thinking has been at the forefront of my work since. (Fritjof had also been a regular teacher at the Esalen Institute.)




ETHOS FOUNDATION 

Back at home, I have been persistently passionate about creating similar opportunities here in Australia for locals and for people around the world who would love to come together to:
  • connect with nature, community and self
  • deepen our understanding of the ecological paradigm 
  • explore thinking and ideas that will help guide us towards a sustainable future
  • experience a different, more connected way of living and thinking 
  • learn very practical skills for living simply and sustainably
  • nurture young leaders in sustainability
  • offer nature connected education for children
After many years - helping to start Northey Street City Farm, the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network, school garden projects,  Local Futures study circles, offering permaculture education in 20 countries, I am now focussing all my efforts on creating a space for head, heart and hands learning, predominantly based here at the ecovillage.



This is what my organisation the Ethos Foundation, a not-for-profit charity, is all about. I have created programs such as Nature Kids, Young Ethos Scholars, and Permaculture Life and will be offering a few Permaculture Design Courses (PDC) each year. I see the PDC is an amazing door to a more sustainable way of life.


Ethos Foundation Permaculture Design Course - August 29 - Sept 9

I hope you can join me from August 29 - Sept 9 for an excitingly practical, intellectually stimulating and incredibly relaxing time here at Crystal Waters, where I have been living for the past 18 years. This course integrates my learnings from Ladakh, Schumacher, and all the other centres. I will be joined by indigenous leader Wiruungga, the amazing Robina McCurdy from New Zealand's Tui Community. We'll visit Maleny's amazing coops including: Maple Street Organic Food Cooperative and the Maleny Credit Union. We'll explore the ecovillage at Crystal Waters, the wonderful neighbouring Baranbali Farm, and visit school and community gardens in the region.

More information about the course will be uploaded to this website very soon. Please contact me for more information.


Films about amazing centres for learning: 

Here are a few of the places which significantly influenced my thinking over the decades:

Schumacher College England

(with Vandana Shiva and Satish Kumar, Polly Higgins, Stephan Harding, Terry Irwin)


Earth University, India



Findhorn Foundation, Scotland

Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales



Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, California




Local Futures (A short version of their recent film, The Economics of Happiness)



Center for Ecoliteracy (school garden program)

Esalen Institute, USA