The Growing the Harvest Festival

A great opportunity to appreciate locally grown foods, and learn more about growing & preparing foods.  Full details here, or check us out on Facebook or pick up a brochure at the MASG office, or the information centre.

Please note the change of venue for Community Apple Juicing on Sunday 15th, now at: The Hub Plot, Rear 233 Barker St, enter from the green gates in Templeton Street.

Program Summary:

Saturday 14th April

Food workshops:  Making smallgoods/charcuterie, jams & chutneys, bread and cider and what to do with a glut of tomatoes.  Registration from 8.30am, $15 per session or $65 for all 5 sessions [Conc $10 per session or $40 for all 5 sessions].  Bookings highly recommended as places limited in some workshops.
Call Sally on 5470 6340 or walmer@castlemaine.net or Catherine on 54724101 or cjerome37@gmail.com

Walking meditation of 4 productive gardens. 9am, Sat. Meet UCA Hall, 1 hour walk.  Free

“Meet Your Local Farmers” forum: 11.15am – 12.15, Saturday 14th April, Uniting Church Hall, Castlemaine: Free.   An opportunity to connect with the people who grow food locally. Four local farmers tell their stories, led by local orchardist, Katie Finlay of the Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens.

Stalls and displays: including food plants & seeds & local groups,
Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm, Uniting Church Hall, Castlemaine

The Harvest Café: will be open for lunch and morning tea on Saturday.  Lunch time demonstrations of olive pressing and flour-milling, all powered by bicycle.

Sunday 15th April, includes Harvest Church Services, apple harvesting, shared lunch and our first Community Apple Juicing session.

Volunteers……..We love you!

We especially would like some volunteers for the apple juicing event to cycle our stationary bikes to generate our power.  Helpers are always appreciated for the Sunday shared lunch too.  If you would like to join the fantastic team of volunteers working to put the festival on- please email heather@box311.biz or phone 0409 327791

If you have a raffle book – could you please return it to the MASG office with the money you’ve collected.

Carbon Neutrality – be a leader with us!

The Growing the Harvest Festival aims to be a carbon neutral event. The organisers are encouraging you to walk, ride, use public transport or to carpool to the Festival. The more sustainable your transport choice, the less emissions we’ll have to offset! Get some of your friends and neighbours together and have some fun!

What does carbon neutral mean? – that we take responsibility for the greenhouse gas pollution we create in our work and play.  We/you make a list of emissions, reduce them where possible and then purchase ‘carbon offsets’ to mitigate any emissions that remain. The emphasis is always on reducing emissions in the first place; and the remaining emissions are best offset using high quality renewable energy – on the Sunday we are having a bike set up whereby cycle power is put back into the grid…we might be able to offset the whole event that way.

Other offsets can be local tree planting or local carbon abatement projects.  For the Harvest Festival we will calculate venue emissions (electricity, gas) and transport emissions for all involved.  Volunteers will be asking visitors on the weekend to guesstimate their kilometres travelled in cars so that we can calculate the total carbon cost.

Volunteers needed for measuring the carbon neutral Harvest Festival!
Do you want to come along to the Harvest Festival, join in the buzz and the fun, AND, be an enormously appreciated MASG volunteer helping to advance sustainability in the Shire? Yes, you!  I’m looking for people to help out for an hour or two during the 2 days of the festival, Saturday 14th or Sunday 15th April.  We need to record all of the transport emissions of visitors – km’s travelled, engine size etc – so that we can calculate the carbon cost, and then offset these emissions so that we can make the festival carbon neutral.  Please contact Susie 0430 042 087 if you are interested in being a carbon neutral volunteer…

The Hub Plot Jottings:

On Friday The Hub Plot hosted a gathering after the funeral of Ray Ollerton. Ray was a great supporter of the Hub Plot.

Other things happening at the Hub Plot:
• broad beans are popping up – they are great to grow even if you aren’t fond of eating them as they do wonders for the health of your soil by fixing nitrogen.
• compost making is going really well
• the chook run construction is moving along
• planting onion seeds, coriander and Italian parsley seeds
• we hosted a visit of 18 students from Vic Uni interested in sustainability.

And one for your diaries: May the 5th to 12th, there will be lots happening in the Shire for Compost Week.  The Hub Plot will be holding a compost and worm farm workshop on Sunday the 6th at 10am.

WASH AGAINST WASTE TRAILER [WAWT]

The WAWT was at the Taradale Food & Wine Festival on 11th March which was a huge event with something like 2,500 visitors.  The volunteers at the Trailer did an amazing job, because the pressure was on.  Thanks so much to Janey, Bron, Elise, Jay, Pat, Gary, Chris, John (who scooted around as though he was on a roller skates!), Jill and, Anna and partner Dave, from Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group and others whose names I do not know!

It was a fun day, as Pat commented … “I enjoyed the day and I am delighted to think how much waste was saved”!   The Trailer was also in use at the PepperGreen Farm Community Festival in Bendigo.  Thank you to John, Jill, Chris, Jay and Janey.  PepperGreen Farm was a fairly quiet event and we were not a highly visible presence, but nonetheless made an impact!

Community Wind

We now have over 200 supporters!   We also got an article in the Shire news this edition!

Community Wind Forums:  a conversation about community-owned wind in Mount Alexander Shire. These forums will offer local people a chance to hear about the vision of the project in more detail and have input into the project principles and process.  The purpose of the forums is to have a constructive community conversation about what a welcomed and appropriate community owned wind park would look like in our shire.

Newstead, Tuesday 24th April, 7-9 pm, Community Centre.
Sutton Grange, Thursday 26th April, 7-9 pm, Sutton Grange Hall.
Taradale, Monday 30th April, 7-9 pm, Taradale Hall.
Maldon, Wednesday 2nd May, 7-9 pm, Neighborhood Centre.
Chewton, Monday 7th May, 7-9 pm, Chewton Town Hall.
Castlemaine, Wednesday 9th May, 7-9 pm, Town Hall.

Please help spread the word and bring your friends along too!  Contribute to the conversation and project development.  There will be refreshments and informal chat afterwards.  For more information,  or contact 5470 6978, or email communitywind@masg.org.au

Inspired by Hepburn Wind

A group of interested Mount Alexander residents visited the Hepburn Community Wind Park on 17th of March to gain insight into the workings of a community-owned wind-power facility and of wind turbine technology.
“They really are magnificent things! I think its great that we can make electricity from a free resource without having to pollute or dig up good farming country”, said Raf, a tour participant from Castlemaine.

As David (one of the Wind Working Group members) explained, “we have been inspired by what Hepburn Wind has achieved.  They now supply the electricity needs for 2,300 homes with their 2 turbines and they give $30,000 back to the community each year in grants. We want to set up a similarly beneficial project in our Shire”.

Future tours of Hepburn Wind will be organised, stay tuned…. or email Jarra (communitywind@masg.org.au) if you are interested to come along.

Woodend Wind Fundraising Dinner, Saturday, 28 April
• 5.30pm – Meet Martin May, Director of the Hepburn Wind Farm, for an optional tour of the site near Daylesford (weather permitting).
Travel (in own transport) to RedBeard Historic Bakery in Trentham (6.30pm until late)
• Dine on local organic produce – dips, roast/pickled veg, cold meats, and RedBeard sourdough – followed by dessert.
• complimentary glass of wine or beer.
• live music from Woodend singer-songwriter David Juriansz.
• hear about Hepburn Wind from Martin in his after dinner speech.  And about Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy (WISE)
Bookings essential – 0412 219 093 or marketing@redbeardbakery.com.au
$60 per person, includes a donation to WISE to support the development of the Woodend Community Wind Park project.

Update on MASG PV owners having their say on Feed in Tariffs

There are now 83 submissions on the VCEC website, including those from energy industries and NGOs, plus plenty from MASG members of course.  Also one from the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria referring to the number of cases generated relating to FiTs.  They can be viewed here, [then click on Feed in Tariff Inquiry, then Submissions Received].  The focus is on the financial side of Feed in Tariffs. The debate is about what is a ‘fair and reasonable’ value for energy contributed to the grid. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) did not define how that value should be determined, only that micro renewable generators have the right to receive it. The ATA and MEFL suggest that there are five components that make up the value of the distributed energy:
* Wholesale energy value
* Avoided distribution and transmission losses
* Avoided market fees
* Environmental benefits in terms of reduced emissions and reduced pollution leading to other environmental and health benefits
* Reduction in wholesale prices via the ‘Merit Order Effect’

The retailer’s preferred position is most likely summed up in NSW, [see link] where the range is 5.2 to 10.3 cents/kWh.  One thing that most submissions agree on is that on principle other (non PV) consumers should not be subsidizing Feed in Tariffs.

There will be a draft report released for further consultation in May. Although most people who are on existing tariffs will likely be unaffected, the outcome of the inquiry is important for people intending to make the move in the future and for the hundreds of jobs that have been created in retailing and installing roof-top PV.
More info: Mike Reeves, 0439 500 050 – email mjreeves@gcom.net.au

LOCAL WORKSHOPS

Intensive winter Permaculture Design Course via Castlemaine Community House.  Two-week intensive winter version of our popular low-cost Permaculture Design course at Winters Flat School Kitchen and Garden. We begin with basic principles of permaculture, starting with how water, soils and climate affect gardens, orchards and animals, and include theoretical sessions in the classroom and hands-on visits to and activities at working permaculture properties.

Guest tutors include David Holmgren, co-founder of the permaculture concept, and local tutors Ian Lillington, Beck Lowe and Sam Downing.  This is not a residential course, but it will be every day from 9am to 5pm, from Saturday 30th June to Friday 13th July (i.e. 13 training days with one day off in the middle on Saturday 7 July).  Cost: $500 ($250 concessions).  For more information contact click here, or email education@cch.org.au 5472 4842

STATE AND GLOBAL CLIMATE NEWS

Pro Coal Policies extended.  Last month we reported that the cap on brown coal mining was lifted.  Now the State Government has scrapped the 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction target. The Government’s own climate change report [third dot point - March 2012 - 3MB download] highlights risks and shows that Victoria’s emissions are continuing to rise.  Average temperatures in Victoria have already increased by 0.87 degrees in the past 100 years.

In contrast, the US Environmental Protection Agency has effectively banned new conventional coal plants by issuing limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.  This move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.  “Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow.”

The EPA rule, called the New Source Performance Standard, will be subject to public comment for at least a month before being finalized, but its backers said they were confident that the White House will usher it into law before Obama’s term ends.  “The Obama administration is committed to moving forward with this,” said Nathan Willcox, federal global warming program director for the advocacy group Environment America. “They’re committed to doing it this, and we’re committed to helping them do it.”  Full story – Washington Post

‘Gas could be just as dirty as coal’, says The Climate Institutereport

 Extreme weather and climate: two new peer-reviewed papers

A decade of weather extremes from Potsdam Institute researchers in ‘Nature‘, says “now strong evidence” linking extreme weather and climate change; and another in-depth analysis Framing the way to relate climate extremes to climate change here:

DENMARK LEADS AGAIN – The new Danish Minister for Climate and Energy announced an agreement supported by all parties in the Danish Parliament, that
-          Renewables will cover 35% of Danish energy consumption by 2020 through wind, biomass and biogas and new investment in solar energy, wave power and geothermal energy.
-          A 12% reduction of the gross energy consumption in 2020 compared to 2006 by strengthening the energy saving obligation on energy companies, an energy renovation of all existing Danish buildings, and by promoting a more energy efficient production in industry.
-          A smart grid strategy
English summary here:

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