Oct 04

The Good Earth Podcasts

The Good Earth Podcasts!

What? You have a Podcast? Yes, I have a Podcast!

tge-bannerMany will be aware that I have a monthly gardening show on 3WBC 94.1 FM community Radio in Melbourne (www.3wbc.org.au) called “The Good Earth“. This show as part of a larger group of programs and shows at Wonderful World Media (WWM). Most of the Good Earth shows are podcast on the WWM site (www.wwmn.net) and I thought it was about time I shared them here as well.

I will provide a link to the latest show at www.wwmn.net when they are put up and I have also provided a link to the previous shows here as well.

So sit back, and enjoy the madness that is my gardening show with my Co-host Kathy Smalley on

“The Good Earth”

The Good Earth – October 2014

And you can find all the shows here (http://www.wwmn.net/category/the-good-earth/)



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Oct 01

Google Grant for Timor Leste Work


Hi everyone,

Exciting news! The ATA (Alternative Technology Association) is a finalist in Google Impact Challenge and hopes to be able to use the grant to continue the good work in Timor Leste.


This grant is substantial ($500,000) and the ATA is one of the finalists in the running to receive one of these grants. This money would make a significant impact on thousands of peoples lives in Timor Leste by allowing the ATA and their local Timorese partners to roll out 2000 PV lighting systems and train 75 technicians to support those (and other) PV system through the remote areas in Timor Lest.


You can help by voting for the ATA here


Some more words from Donna Luck the ATA CEO.

“Our plan is to install 2000 solar lighting systems and train 75 village-based installers in the next two years, delivering an overall 60kW of low-emission solar energy.

The Google Impact Challenge rewards not-for-profit organisations using technology to improve lives.

We need you to vote for us to ensure we get the grant.

Thousands of people in East Timor have no electricity and are unlikely to ever have access to it. We think that’s wrong and are doing something about it.

VLS training 1 copy

Since 2003, we have installed solar lighting in more than 1000 homes, community centres, hospitals and orphanages in remote Timorese villages. We have also helped train local technicians to install and maintain solar systems.

Vote here to bring solar lighting to more people in East Timor.

Voting closes on October 13, so vote for us and help spread the word!”





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Sep 27

Appropriate Technology Talk

Back in July, at the, “Working Together with Timor Leste: The Next 10 Years” conference held in Melbourne, I was fortunate to be a co-presenter with my very good friend and colleague, Simão Baretto, the Director of CNEFP, a vocational training facility in Timor Leste. This was done in my capacity as Convenor of the IPG (International Projects Group) for the ATA (Alternative Technology Association).

One of our members recorded the event and created this video that features the ATA’s You-Tube site




One of the interesting things about the talk was that the presentation technology on stage failed giving us a perfect opportunity to talk about the need to have comprehensive training and maintenance capabilities to cope with the inevitable failures and maintenance requirements associated with any technology.

It was a great experience presenting to senior Australian and Timor Leste officials, NGO’s and volunteers and we all came away with much more knowledge and renewed drive to continue to help the people of Timor Leste in their efforts moving towards a more sustainable and stable society.


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Sep 01

Our Permablitz Part 1

Yes, Part 1, because there’s a lot to share :D

We had a Permablitz at our place a few days ago on a perfect sunny winter’s day. If you’re not sure what a permablitz is:


Permablitz Defined (www.permablitz.net)

“Permablitz (noun): An informal gathering involving a day on which a group of at least two people come together to achieve the following:
    – create or add to edible gardens
    – share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living
    – build community
    – have fun
Permablitzes are free events, open to the public, with free workshops, shared food, where you get some exercise and have a wonderful time. To be defined as a permablitz each event must also be preceded by a permaculture design by a designer with a Permaculture Design Certificate. The network runs on reciprocity.”

But the definition doesn’t do justice to the amazing event and transformation that happens on the day.

We were blown away by the attendance and the fabulous transformation.
We had over 40 people throughout the day and collectively we

  • Dug 50 metres of irrigation trenches,
  • Moved 5 metres of recycled hardwood mulch for the mulch trenches
  • Moved 9 metres of straw for the chook run and garden beds
  • Assembled a vertical garden trellis around the 25kL tank using 12 metres of recycled wire-mesh fencing
  • Installed the posts and sleepers for the 14m fence for the chook run
  • Planted out 5 metres of strawberries under the grapevines
  • Weeded the area around the grapevine and transplanted the Pepino
  • Weeded, mulched and replanted three raised veggie garden beds
  • Weeded the pathways and areas surrounding the veggie garden
  • Pruned several fruit trees in the orchard area
  • Moved 2.5 tonnes of old sleepers into temporary storage
  • Installed grey water irrigation system to the mulch trenches


Phew! No wonder we were tired :-P

So, just to whet your appetite, here are a few selected photos taken by Edwin Reese from PhotoProTours.com on the day as part of the Blitz. Edwin has kindly given permission to share these here but note that Edwin retains copyright on the photos as per this notice

All photos on this post (Copyright 2014 – Edwin Reese – PhotoProTours.com)

_R140164_R140035  _R140039_R140159     _R140108 _R140099 _R140080 _R140073 _R140070 _R140064 _R140059   _R140026 _R140131_R140127_R140169































We have plenty more photos and possibly a video of the event to come in part 2.


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Aug 19

3D Design and Printing Fun

I have finally got around to posting again after returning from Timor Leste a few weeks ago. I think I was a bit flat after the trip and took a while to shake off a persistent cold. Ah well, it is the time of year for such things. Anyway, the cold has gone and my enthusiasm has returned – Yay!

As a bit of a change, I thought I might post a quick couple of bits about some 3D design and printing I have been doing (partly work related). You may remember that I have an interest in 3D printing and design, and other fabrication activities, and I posted a bit about it here.


I am lucky enough to have access to a 3D printer and some other fabrication equipment at work and it has been a bit of fun and a little bit of hard slog, to learn how to get a design from concept, into a 3D design, then 3D printed, and finally to have the completed piece in place doing the task. OK, it’s been a lot of slog but heaps of fun ;-)

The main thing I wanted to make was a bracket to hold a computer fan on a box for a project we are building for a virtual reality display, as part of science week. I thought it would be appropriate to quickly design and print the bracket rather than modifying an existing bracket. It ended up harder than I expected, took much longer than I had anticipated, and became a very good learning experience.

I decided to use a very simple free online program called Tinkercad (www.tinkercad.com)

tinkercad-screenIt does have some limitations but it is easy to use with a simple drag and drop technique. It takes a little getting used to, like any 3D program, but it is surprising how quickly you can get the hand of it. The picture shows the 3D model I made of the computer fan along with an early prototype of the bracket I designed.

There were a couple of problems with the bracket and I ended up changing the design to the one shown below.

bracket-imageOf course I needed two of them, so I uploaded the file into the 3D printer, printed one to make sure everything was OK and then printed the second one.

brackets with fanThey worked a treat and I am very happy with the final result.

This kind of manufacturing and construction is on the increase and promises much. It will be interesting to see how it is used as the prices keep dropping and the technology makes it’s way into the home, office and small business.

Just for a bit of fun, after the brackets were completed, I very quickly threw together a few fun parts to make this creation, I call baby chicken (after all, there had to be a permaculture theme somewhere in this post  :-)   ).

It’s interactive so press the 3D button and have a look :-D

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