The Artists' Press guide to green living

organic farming, organic veggies, the artists press organic


Come and stay!

Introduction

In the print studio, guesthouse and homes we are continually looking at ways to lighten our footprint. Here are some of the environmental efforts that we have made, please copy at will and let us know how we can improve.

STUDIO: Printing involves the use of solvents, acids and chemicals, we try to use as little as possible and are always on the lookout for processes that use the least amount of toxic ingredients. Our lithography presses are hand operated (gives the printers a good physical workout!) and many of the methods that we use are centuries old and thus are not heavy on dangerous chemicals. We use a solvent called Oil Med Eco as it is less toxic than regular solvents, you can get it from The Italian Art shop in Cape Town.

Profits from the studio are spent on expensive environmental initiatives such as installing the solar geysers and the micro-hydro plant.

What follows is a list of things that we as a family of four have done to live a little more sustainably. It has been an exciting road to start traveling along and instead of lowering our standard of living it has vastly improved it. We have become rather evangelical about what we have done because it so much fun and is saving us money.

The idea with this list is that hopefully you will copy it, tailor it to your world with your inputs and forward it to friends and family. It would be great if local lists like these start popping up all over the place. This one focuses on the Lowveld and on White River and Nelspuit in particular.

Power

micro hydro turbine, micro hydro, sustainable energy



ELECTRICITY: We read a short article in the Farmer’s Weekly a few years ago that mentioned that the amount of coal burnt to create the electricity to heat water for the average bath is about 50kg of coal per bath (and we are not talking about those huge Jacuzzi things). Relaxing in the bath with the image of a huge pile of coal next to one was enough to make us want to give up hygiene altogether. And so we started looking at ways of reducing our consumption.

We use electricity for: 1 x main house, 1 x guesthouse, 1 x 2 bedroom house, 1 x workshop 3 x apartments/cottages

Prior to refitting and replotting how we use electricity our consumption was

: April 2003 to March 2004 we averaged 4001 kwH per month

After changing our ways:

: April 2010 to March 2011 we averaged 1662 kwH per month

Which means we cut our electricity by 2339 kwH per month, a 60% reduction in what we were using. We did this by switching to cooking on gas, changing the light bulbs, and tossing the television out (when we started to only enjoy the advertising we realised that the TV had to go..) and installing the solar geysers. But that was not enough for us and luckily our property is on a gentle slope, we have a dam and access to canal water so...

We have built a micro-hydro turbine station that is driven by water from our dam.

It took us four years (from mid 2008 to May 2012) to get the turbine running. This is due to the fact that we decided that developing local capacity was the best move, in this case it turned out to be a very expensive and exasperating mistake. We paid a large chunk of money to the Clackson Power Company from Nelspruit who claimed to have all the expertise that we required. Three and a half years later and four failed turbines (that looked like bad prep school projects patched together with re-spray painted bits and pieces) all we had was the pipe from our dam, some cable and a turbine house. We searched the internet and eventually decided on an Italian turbine (however hard we tried we could not get hold of the actual manufacturers of the Chinese turbines and after our Clackson experience we had a lot of questions that we wanted answers to before laying out more cash).

In October 2012 we ordered our micro-hydro turbine from Sandro Fattore in Italy. Many broken English/Italian emails flew through the ether and in March our beautifully made and functional turbine landed (duty free as it is sustainable technology equipment). With the turbine installed we now produce 94% of our own electrical needs and our electricity consumption from Eskom has dropped to 330 kwH per month. We are now looking at going off the grid completely with solar panels to compliment what we have.

We are looking forward to the day that we can buy an electrical car to replace our VW Bluemotion, which will mean we are effectively filling up on canal water. With the current escalation in electricity prices we will pay off the investment in our system within a few years.

The micro-hydro email group has been an invaluable source of info and guidance for us. If water fires you up then join them!

Micro-hydro group....

The building that houses the turbine is built out of sandbags (citrus fruit bags filled with sand from the site).

STOVE: We cook on gas, as it is more environmentally sound than using electricity. We do not have an electric kettle in the kitchen, they waste loads of power, so use the kettle on the stove to heat the amount of water that you need. When cooking keep lids on your pots, use the right size pot for the flame and turn the gas off when you food is almost ready and let the heat already in the pot do the rest of the cooking for you. We bought our gas stove from Midco Gas (they have a branch in Nelspruit and one in White River) 013 7513876, this was after getting quotes from the Western Cape and Gauteng, only to find that local is not only lekker, it is also cheaper.

To cook without using any heat source we are delighted to have two Wonderbags in our kitchen. These are snazzy updated versions of the hay box. You cook your food briefly on a stove top and then transfer the hot pot into the wonderbags that then seals the heat inside the pot and cooks the food for you. It is brilliant for cooking beans, samp, mielie pap, stews etc. They are made by Natural Balance who are registered for carbon credits as well as being a women's project in JHB. These make great gifts for friends, family and staff. Take a look at:

Natural Balance Wonderbag

SOLAR COOKER: While on holiday at Bulungula Lodge (a brilliant off-grid backpackers in a sublime setting on the Wild Coast)we met Crosby who supplies parabolic solar cookers. On returning home we promptly bought one and use it to boil water (your tea and coffee habit supported by an electric kettle is a electricity monster). We have also baked bread in the cooker and it makes fine roasts too. Crosby is based in Johannesburg take a look at SunFire

solar cooker, parabolic solar cooker, solar energy



SOLAR WATER HEATERS: Our adventure into reducing our electricity usage started in earnest in 2007. There was only one supplier for solar water heaters in the lowveld then and they only installed the flat plate heaters. We patched together a system and after much agony (via Gauteng) installed our system that uses vacuum tubes. We decided on tubes as they are more efficient, the tubes can be replaced as singles if something goes wrong and they are more resistant to breakage (we have had some hectic hail and all our units are still fine). The geysers that store the water are ultra high temperature ones used in industry (Ngodwana uses them), the reason for this is that solar heated water can get really hot, much hotter than a regular electrical one. Luckily a number of suppliers are working in the Lowveld now, do a internet search to see who is working in your area.

HEAT PUMP: One of the buildings on our property is thatched and we were unable to put solar heating onto it. After consulting with a local plumber we decided to put a heat pump in. It works by taking heat out of the air and using it to heat the water in your existing geyser (a bit like air con in reverse). The great thing about it is that it works through the night and on cloudy days aswell. Eskom do provide a rebate for installing heat pumps.

LIGHTS: We have installed LED lighting in our guesthouse and in about half of the rooms of our house. The light is of a better quality than that of CFL globes and the electricity usage is even less than the CFL's.

For the rest we use CFL globes. They use much less electricity than the old style light bulbs and seem to withstand the power surges that Eskom indulges in much better than incandescent light bulbs. Remember to dispose of them responsibly; they contain minute amounts of mercury that is released when the glass is broken. Most Pick 'n Pay supermarkets have recycling bins for cfl globes.

We have replaced the standard flourescent tubes in the workshop with an Ecolight retrofit. This will save us about 10kwh per day (about 15% of our consumption when the turbine is not running).

LAUNDRY: We don’t use a clothes dryer, the sun does the work for us. Hot water for the washing machine comes from the solar water heater.

FRIDGE: We replaced our fridge with an eco one (available at all appliance stores). One can easily do without a huge fridge/freezer.

WASHING: We wash dishes by hand; we do not have a dishwasher.Do not try to tell us that two sinks of water and teaspoon of dishwashing liquid is heavier on the environment than a dishwasher with it's detergents, electricity usage and manufacture.

OTHER APPLIANCES: It is estimated that 10% of household electricity is used to keep appliances on standby (computers, TV, CD players, DVD players, toothbrush and cell phone charges etc). Either get rid of the appliance or discipline yourself into switching off at the wall. You can also buy wall wart controllers that will do this automatically for you.

SECURITY: The only lights that we leave on for security are three CFL lights on the workshop stoep and we have no electric fences. Our neighbours flood light their properties at night. Some of our neighbours also have electric fences. They get robbed we do not..... We have wireless motion censors in the garden and when they are set off we use LED torches with a powerful beam. So far so good.

SWIMMING POOL: Experiment and work out the minimum time that you need to run that pump. Ours works for about 8 hours out of 24 in summer and hardly ever in winter.

COOLING DOWN AND HEATING UP: All our roofs are insulated with Isotherm, a South African product made out of recycled soft drink bottles; you can buy it from Cashbuild, where we have heard staff refer to it as amaduvet. This means that we do not need air conditioners. If the weather is really hot, open windows and doors at night, to allow the cooler air to bring the temperature of the building down. In the morning close it all up and keep the heat out and the cool in (this really works, promise!).

We have painted our workshop's corrugated iron roof white to reflect heat. It means that the building is about five degrees cooler in the summer and is a great passive way of cooling things down.

In cold weather make a fire in the lounge (far more romantic than an electric heater), plus wood is a local waste product that becomes ash and is used in the compost heap. Much of the wood we use comes from invader species that have been cleared from the bush. Tom Mokoena supplies cut up firewood in the White River/Nelspruit area (ask for black wattle, it burns brilliantly) his number is 082 434 5247. Tom is also the most expert tree feller, and understands the need to not damage delicate orchids and favorite ferns. If you have some invasive monsters in your garden, he can help.

Use hot water bottles instead of electric blankets.

Wear jerseys and invest in a warm duvet. In summer we sleep with the doors open and our security gate closed.

Food and water

permaculture, chicken tractor, food garden chickens



DRINKING WATER: Our water comes from our borehole and we get it tested each year and it is treated with UV light. It is better than bottled spring water that you buy (taste wise, contents wise and environmentally). Refill the plastic bottles that you may have bought (Paris Hilton says that this her how she does her bit for the environment…. Go girl!). The reason we have installed a UV system is that our water tests showed up e-coli, after years of having pristine water, things went downhill in 2009.

Using a water chlorinator is not great for ones health and also has environmental side effects. Contact H2O in Nelspruit 013 752 4228 for UV units if you want to instal one on your water system. Locally Aqua Amanzi the only water supplier that sell UV treated water, or you can get Nestle water but their footprint is huge. To test the quality of your water take a sample in a glass bottle that has been rinsed out with boiled water to Labserve 013 752 4745 in Nelspruit.

COFFEE: The lowveld is blessed with a great coffee producer, so you can get a caffeine kick that has not got thousands of air miles attached and that provides employment for people in our community.

Our coffee is local and is grown in the Sabie Valley. Call Sabie Valley Coffee 013 737 8169, cell 082 751 3400.

And while on the subject we got sick of replacing our glass Bodem plungers, which seem to break so easily. We were tipped off by Harrie’s Pancakes that they get their stylish stainless steel, insulated plungers from Sabie Valley Coffee (they have them for sale in their Hazyview shop) or else the Crossings Spar and Pick 'n Pay in Nelspruit also sell them from time to time. They are expensive but they will outlast your need for caffeine and along with your pet parrot can be put in your will.

FOOD: We grow as much of our food as we can and it is totally organic. Working in the veggie garden is good exercise (we cancelled our gym membership in 2002) and it is also a great way to de-stress (unless the vervet monkeys have been on a raid). We buy seedlings from Ezigro 013 750 1429 and Brian Law Seedlings 013 751 5088, both White River companies that supply farmers and small fry like us and their prices are really affordable.

Gladys Mgiba harvests and supplies and delivers lathes (thin long straight blue gum poles) and fencing droppers. The lathes are vital to any successful food garden and are reuseable. We use them for beans and peas to climp up, to stop mielies falling over and to put shade net over to keep birds off tasty treats like spinach, cabbage and peas. They also support fruit tree branches when the friut gets too heavy. The ones Gladys supplies are not CCA treated and are free of arsenic and cyanide (good to keep that stuff out of your food chain). Contact her on 076 2891 827.

We converted an old bath tub into a wormery in the vegetable garden. The red wrigglers supply us with constant worm tea and a incredible compost from time to time which has is essential for growing decent sized garlic. If you think vermiculture is hype, please come and look at the size of our rocket leaves.... We also buy vermipost and compost from Davely Organics in Nelspruit, their website is fantastic, take a look at:

Davely Organics

The artists press, live sustainably, south african green



We have started our food forest, which is permaculture concept. In our garden we have macadamia and pecan nut trees, guavas, limes, other citrus (which are a challenge to grow organically), plums, figs, pomegranates, mangoes, litchis, and bananas. Recently we have added a tamarind tree (available from Fishwicks wholesale nursery near Nelspruit 013 733 4270), cinnamon, cherimoya, moepel, and starfruit. The Agricultural Research Centre nursery has an excellent selection of fruit trees as well as the cinnamon trees at very reasonable prices. Speak to Oscar on 013 753 7000.

Part of the permaculture concept is a chicken tractor. We have made our tractor out of white electrical conduit with a welded square bar base frame. We used bird mesh shade cloth to cover it with and have made the perches out of thin bamboo. The idea is that you move the chicken tractor onto veggie beds that have reached the end of their usefulness for harvesting. The chickens eat the remaining plants, weeds, slugs etc and turn the soil over whilst fertilising it. A laying box in the tractor means that eggs are easy to collect. Collecting eggs enchants every child that visits; it is something that all kids should be able to do. Most of our chickens are hardy “indigenous” ones. Ask your domestic staff if they have contacts to buy your starting stock. We started off with six hens and a rooster and now have a flock of about thirty which produces enough eggs for a family of four with plenty extra to sell or give away. We buy our chicken feed in 50kg bags from Goedgenoeg Voere opposite Strydom Spar in White River.

You can buy a ready made chicken tractor (they come in various sizes) from Lowveld Lumber and Pallet in Nelspruit. Perfect for even tiny gardens in town.

Chicken Tractor manufacturer

chicken tractor, chicken tractor for sale, nelspruit chicken tractor



For veggies and fruit that we do not grow ourselves we try to support our local farmers as much as we can, especially those who are organic. We also support the vendors who sell along the sides of the roads and on pavements. Their quality is usually excellent (nothing like dealing with your customers face to face) and the prices are low. A favourite is the old man in his blue bakkie who sells fruit near White River Primary. The Fountains Farm products are great and you can get organic veggies delivered to you by The Veg Box in Nelspruit. We also support the local "tuis nywerheid" shops.

We are mostly vegan, giving all animal protein a skip which has resulted in us loosing weight, getting some of that energy back that seemed to flee when we turned thirty and plus we get sick less often. Animal farming contributes more to global warming than all the forms of transport, combined (yes, that means eating corpse, drinking milk, etc etc is heavier than aeroplanes, ships, cars, trucks ...) If you have to eat seafood sms the name of the seafood to this number to check the status of what you want to eat 079 4998795. The reply comes quickly and gives you info about the fish and whether it is sustainably harvested one can eat it with a clear conscience. We buy as much local produce as we can, fresher, less packaging, lower food miles and supports the local economy. For items that are not produced in our neighbourhood we buy South African where possible.

We are olive and olive oil addicts and buy in bulk from Willow Creek through their agent in Johannesburg, Jacqui Greenwood Cell: 083 297 7855.

After hearing what gets put into commercially produced bread we decided to start baking our own. With growing veggies and baking bread our trips to the supermarket are a lot fewer, which means that we do not end up making lots of unnecessary purchases, good for the pocket and the waistline! You can buy organic flour in bulk from Wensleydale in Gauteng http://www.wensleydale.co.za/ We have taken bread making one step further and have bought a small (and good looking)flour mill to make our own stone ground flour.It is a Fidibus XL one made in Germany and we bought ours from: Go Natural

Hester at Earth Wise in the Ilanga Mall also sells the mills.We buy wheat and rye seed from James and Vanessa Moffett who are organic farmers in the Free State. They send it to us via the post office. Please contact us if you would like their email address and we will send it to you. While on the flour topic stock up on Puccini pasta, it is produced in South Africa and is as good as anything Italy has to offer.

There are a number of local dairies who produce RBST hormone free milk, find out who they are and support them.Buying local milk saves on thousands of food miles and the cost of refrigerated transport.

We harvest honey from our bee hives. There is something magical about watching the golden sweetness ooze from the comb on the frame and soon we will be taking sugar off our shopping list. It is best to put in a used bee hive (it will attract bees quicker than a new one). For excellent information on bee keeping in South Africa take a look at this website: Beekeepers


We bought our hives second hand from a local honey farmer and our other bee kit (overalls, hood, smoker etc) from Honeybadger and Bee Ware

Earth Wise is a fantastic little shop and is the only reason we ever enter the palace to consumerism that is Ilanga Mall. Hester and her team stock hard to get in the Lowveld items like raw cocoa, miso and mate. She also has the full range of non-toxic bodycare products and good for the earth home cleaning stuff. Take a look at their website: Earthwise



Pet food

We have started to make our own cat and dog food; the reason for this being dark hints from various sources that dog food is well, made partially out of dogs. It is also damn expensive and has a hefty footprint. We got our recipie off the internet (written by a vet), we make up a batch every five weeks and freeze it to use as needed. The dogs love it and are looking better than they did on the expensive cubes we used to buy them. We make a meaty mix which is served on a bowl of mielie pap.We buy the mielie meal from Goedgenoeg Voere (just down the road from Cash Build in White River).

For the cats we buy frozen chicken from Mikon (locally produced)and mince it by hand with a mincer. To the minced whole chickens (bones and all), to this raw meat we add taurine, Vit B, Vit E, fish oil, chicken liver, eggs and salt. Mush it all up and freeze. The cats love it and are playful and a bit mad after eating it, unlike the lazy behaviour vet bought food induces. If you want the specific recipie, email us.

Clean bodies

BODY CARE AND BATH SOAP: Three friends have been through the breast cancer mill and having girlfriends facing this nightmare led to looking at all the delicious things we lather ourselves with. As a (former) devotee of mainstream “natural products” I thought that was enough. From reading books and articles it seems not.

In Nelspruit Victorian Garden products are available from Earthwise at Ilanga Mall. The shampoo,soaps, body butters, body lotions and face oil and moisturisers are divine and when compared to big name, toxic imported brands cost almost nothing. They also sell the African Organics shampoo and conditioner which wins the organic and local hair care race for us as well as Jozi Organics deodorant. Local is very lekker.

MENSTRUAL CUPS: It is a more or less totally taboo subject but.... the waste from female sanitary products is huge (why is it that we find it much easier to moan about disposable nappies...). A menstrual cup is about the best personal item any menstruating female can have. They are secure, totally comfortable (unlike pads and tampax you do not feel them at all) and last for years. No more running to the cafe in the middle of the night to stock up on expensive unsound pads, and also none of that toxic shock syndrome stuff. I have tried both the imported Moon Cup (from the UK) and the locally made Mia Cup and local is definatly lekker! The Mia Cup is easier to take out and can hold slightly more liquid. An added bonus is that by buying a Mia Cup you are supporting a South African company and South African manufacturers (seems as most of the pads that I used to buy came from obscure East European places). For info and to order go to :

Mia Cup

TOILET PAPER:On the waste subject we have discovered a locally made unbleached toilet paper that sells for less than the unsound puppy print version that we used to use. It is made out of sugar cane waste and is a much sweeter option. You can buy it directly from Must Paper Industries in Nelspruit. Call Francois on 013 752 3950. Ask them for their green/enviro paper. It costs less than half of what you pay at the supermarket.



Handmade and beautiful

For gifts and treats for your home we have a wealth of creative makers. Our favorites include:

The Sunshine Gallery and Delagoa Trading in Graskop, Africa Joy at Casterbridge in White River and The Attic in Nelspruit (next door to The Stoep) are all owner run and sell beautifully made South African items. Look for hand crafted treasures along the sides of roads too (especially around Hazyview).

Brian Coetzee lives up the road from us and is a master carpenter of note. He specializes in intricately made wooden boxes which make for special gifts. Take a look at his Artisinal Boxes

brian coetzee, artisinal boxes, handmade gifts


Melissa Adey lives in Schoemanskloof and is "Make with Grace" transforming your child’s drawing into a soft toy.

Imagine the delight on your little one’s face when they see their drawing come to life!

These unique, Heirloom toys, handmade from vintage and upcycled fabric turn fantasy into tangible, reality that can be held and played with. Simply send us your child’s drawing of a being or creature that keeps them safe, and we will reply with a quote to transform it into a soft toy. Pop onto our website for more on how it all works or contact chief maker, Melissa on her mobile +27 76 147 7670. Facebook Make with Grace Make with Grace for more on how it all works or contact chief maker, Melissa on her mobile +27 76 147 7670. Facebook


Esra Bosch works just outside White river and has an amazing gallery next to her studio from which she sells her ceramics. Take a look at Esra Bosch Ceramic Studio

White River crafts, white river ceramicist, white river pottery, esra bosch



Clean house

CLEANING MATERIALS: We use a combination of vinegar and bicarb to do most of the cleaning and disinfecting. To mix put the bicarb into a mixing jug and slowly add vinegar, mixing all the time (it foams!!!), mix to a stiffish liquid and use. You can add a few drop of essential oil and sunlight liquid soap if you like.When cleaning your bath give the container (hopefully a recycled one) a good shake to mix up the vinegar and bicarb.

To clean windows use vinegar diluted with a bit of water, effective and safe (the vinegar smell does evaporate).

LAUNDRY: The detergent that we use in the washing machine is called Triple Orange. Made in South Africa it works well and is not bulked with shredded newsprint (the secret ingredient in commercial detergents.) We do not use a tumble drier (ridiculous in the South African climate), the sun and the wind do the job for us. A ¼ cup of bicarb added to the final rinse replaces fabric softener.

Triple Orange website

Safe house and garden

CARPETS: All our carpets are made by local rural women out of renewable grass using a traditional Swazi technique. When they are worn out they get tossed onto the compost heap. In the workshop the printers have them next to presses and they work very well to cushion hard working feet. Industrially produced carpets are full of toxic chemicals and can take 20,000 years to decompose in landfill sites. Roadside craft sellers in the Hazyview area and at Numbi Gate sell the carpets we buy.

FURNITURE: We buy locally produced furniture directly from the carpenter when we can; otherwise we buy second hand, a major depression was induced by missing out on a fabulous art deco suite that someone else had snapped up at the junk shop below Strijdom Spar. Psychological balance was minimally restored by finding four deco chairs a few months later at Die Kraaines in White River. For standard cupboards and shelving buy SA pine products and paint them to suit the room.

LIGHT FITTINGS: Yemvelo make the most fantastic range of light fittings and sconces as well as furniture using invasive species for materials as well sustainably harvested reeds. They are just outside of White River (near the Spur). Call them on 013 750 1684 or 083 540 0500.

GARDEN: We have removed most of the alien trees on the property and when we buy anything new for the garden it is indigenous (except for fruit trees for the food forest). We do not use any chemical fertilisers or pesticides. This means that the bees, bats, predator insects, frogs and birds do the work for us. When we have termite and ant infestations we soak them with water.

While on holiday in Kosi Bay we came across some well designed and very sturdy garden furniture made out of recycled plastic (lasts 20 years and needs NO maintenance). It is available in a range of colours, we chose a brown which looks like sunbleached teak. Contact Billy Bond at freebop@mweb.co.za

Every other year we scatter chicken manure on the lawns to get them into shape, contact your local egg or chicken farmer (they deliver by the ton). Shopping around for quotes I spoke to another chicken farmer who was unable to assist me as he was sending all his chicken droppings to cattle farmers up on the highveld to give them as feed (this was in spring, when the grass was low), now if that is not enough to put you off your mainstream steak...

Waste

RECYCLING: As we live fifteen kms out of town we recycle as much as we can. We take our plastics, paper, cardboard, metal and glass to Greens Waste in Nelspruit. If you want they will pay you for your recyclables. Tel 013 755 1276.

You can also drop your recycling off at Uplands School which has a very well run recycling centre. But please make sure that your recyclables have been washed and cleaned where appropriate and do not dump wet waste at any of these sites (that includes kitty litter, disposable nappies, expired medications etc etc)

Pick 'n Pay Supermarkets have recycling bins at the entrance to their stores for recycling ink cartridges, batteries, plastic bags and best of all cfl light bulbs.

BURNING RUBBISH: We live on a small holding and after years of asking a big industrial farming neighbour to stop burning it’s waste (the stench made us retch, even from a few kilometres away) we reported them to Mbombela Environmental Affairs, speak to Herbert Mbuli 072 080 1821, he and his team are fantastic. The stinky business now has to dispose of their waste in a municipal site. We can breathe again! It is totally illegal to burn your waste in an open pit, so if you are doing it, stop now.... you might live next to someone who gets fed up and reports you.

Environmental activism

Since 2006 we have been heavily involved in protesting against pollution from the Sonae Novobord plant in Rocky Drift (6kms from us) who produce MDF, chipboard and melamine. We have been successful in getting them to start looking at complying with environmental legislation but the battle is far from over. Bit like trying to stop the fat boys running the school tuckshop. We have organised protests, print and radio media attention, meetings with relevant governments departments, contacts with South African and European communities fighting the same company for the same reasons and even managed to get the European Investment Bank (who lend Sonae money) to come out from Brussels to listen to our concerns (they have listened and are taking action).

KIDS SCHOOL: In 2008 we managed to get the children's school to set up an environmental committee which falls under the Parents Association and we drew up an Environmental Management Plan for the school. Schools are slow moving places though and extreemly conservative, so load up on patience before you start!

Community Trading

In terms of transition towns we have been involved in setting up The Lowveld Community Exchange System.The launch of the exchange and our regular trading day get togethers (which include movies, meals and mini-workshops) are a great way to share and meet like minded sorts. It was quite strange getting to grips to trading without money and to telling people that no they could not pay cash for the goods on the table but that they could join the exchange and then take the items by going into virtual debt. Our children used to have an ongoing game where they built mud villages and used lucky beans as currency, so the exchange has tinges of a light hearted game for us, although we go home with very real delicious lemon cordial, pickles and trays of seedlings.

The idea is to stimulate trade within your own community and it is fascinating how it challenges ones approach to money and value. Take a look at the CES website to find an exchange in your area (Cape Town has a large one, but they are all over the planet now). To look at the Lowveld Community Exchange System and to see what is available, how it all works and to register yourself (the more members we have the more benefit for everyone) go to: Community Exchange Network, South Africa

If you are on Facebook you can also like the Lowveld Community Exchange System page in order to get updates and to share info.

Local-Lish-Us

In 2012 a bunch of friends got Local-Lish-Us off the ground. We organise quarterly seasonal meals using local seasonal produce, which is organic and free-range where possible, catering for meat eaters and vegetarians and at the same time as promoting local chefs.

Our purpose is to promote community, create environmental awareness, eat fresher food, develop relationships with local growers and learn what is locally available. We aim to highlight the blandness of industrially produced produce as opposed to seasonal creatively prepared meals.

Four times a year we organise a meal at a different venue (at a farm, owner run lodge or outdoor space). A menu is drawn up based on what is seasonally available within a 150 kilometre range of Nelspruit and White River, the venue and chef identified and then we sell tickets to the meal.

Needless to say marketing is not a problem! If you want to book a plate for our next session email us at the address on the bottom of this page or if you are on Facebook like the Local-Lish-Us page to be kept in the loop.

environmental activism, anti-sonae protest



Reading List

Want to find out more? Below are some books and movies that we have really enjoyed (in no particular order):

1) Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
2) The China Study by Colin Campbell
3) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
4) Bonfire of the Brands by Neil Boorman
5) Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence
6) The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
7) The End of Oil by Paul Roberts
8) The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow
9) The Garbage Warrior(DVD)
10) The Power of Community (DVD)
11) Blood and Oil By Michael T Klare
12) Janes Delicious Garden by Jane Griffiths (organic gardening in South Africa)
13) Affluenza by Oliver James
14) No Logo by Naomi Klein
15) Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller by Jeff Rubin
16) Supersize Me! (DVD)
17) Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer
18) I Am (DVD) 19) Forks over Knives (DVD) 20) Fresh (DVD) 21) Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.



Take a look at Treehugger's website for great green updates

Fantastic Australian green website: Green Living Tips

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