by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
Is it a "green" house? Brownfield (in town) not destroying nature. Where the infrastructure is already available – water, electricity, phone/internet(!), sewerage. Face brick (to avoid painting). Slate floor, natural stone from Mazista. Solar powered hot water. The electric geyser, to supplement the solar panels in winter, is on a time switch. Our metal roof is powder coated. Insulation in the roof is green (literally) recycled plastic.
|Hopefield Wind Farm|
Against the summer heat we have two Whirlybirds. There are ceiling vents in the bedrooms, bathrooms, and the living room. Our Whirlybirds work on convection, heat rises, trapped under the ceiling, into the roof space. We have sash windows with stainless steel fly screens. Back door with a large screened window we leave open all night, to draw in the cool night air. Wooden blinds on the sunny side windows.
|Whirlybirds in September 2009|
We recycle whatever we can. Garden refuse, weeds, prunings, kitchen waste – all goes to mulch or compost. Porterville now recycles paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic. The garden is indigenous/native, wildlife friendly (bird feeders, a pond, and shelter), water wise, and we kept and planted as many trees as we could!
|Under the ash trees in October 2013|
The living-room is square, so would be dark without the skylight/clerestory window. Captures the daylight, not sun in summer, and the warmth of the low winter sun. A deep veranda is our main living space, except in mid-winter, and even then, in the warm part of the day. Our washing is dried on the line, in sun and the breeze. We don’t use poison in the garden or the house. Our home is as small as possible, as large as necessary. We live simply that others may simply live.
We have a grey water system, which we use to capture water, mostly from the washing machine, but also from the shower/bath. Not the kitchen because of food residues and grease. We use the basic half of a commercially available grey water system. First a tank low enough to capture the grey water. Then a pump to lift it to the short-term storage tank. Use your grey water today, or tomorrow at the latest. If we would collect all the grey water that 2 green adults produce, it would be too much for the four legged watering system to distribute. No lawn here. We can collect when we need to, and divert into the sewers what we cannot distribute in our garden.
|installing the grey water system in April 2007|
|Grey water system in November 2009|
If any of your plants are acid-loving – our Erica – use rain or tap water. They don’t like the “chemical fertiliser” from washing powder. We have two 500 litre rain water tanks – which overflow into the pond, and are used for watering pots. We have gravel paths to deal with winter floods. We keep our rain in our garden with swales the right way (Tx Janie).
|Ungardening Pond with Chocolat in November 2013|
From African water How much water do people need? by Les Roberts at Johns Hopkins University - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says a per capita allocation of 7 litres per person per day should be regarded as the minimum 'survival' allocation. This quantity will be raised to 15 litres per day as soon as possible. Millions of refugees throughout the world currently receive between 7 and 15 l/p/d. There was a steady association between consuming more water and experiencing less diarrhoea among children, in a camp where faecal-oral diseases were the main cause of death. [Why?] Unfortunately, the answer will most often be because someone, somewhere, with a flush toilet and hot shower, does not think that the extra investment to provide sufficient water is really worth it.
|Great North in June 2013|
|Yellow Tecoma capensis in April 2013|
For the few months of winter cold we have a closed combustion stove. Wood can be sustainable, we use invasive aliens like Port Jackson wattle. We moved to Elephant’s Eye in May 2007. Our lovely first fire!
|First fire in June 2007|
|Wind farm at Hopefield|
We visited Langebaan and travelled home past Umoya Hopefield Wind Farm. It went commercial in February 2014. 37 turbines from Vestas in Denmark producing 67MW which feeds into ESKOM and the national grid. Enough to power 70,000 low-income homes. Between Gouda and Saron the next wind farm is under construction.Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer of Elephant's Eye (in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)
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