Zero Net Emissions by 2025

Goodbye Deanna, hello high energy using indoor Pool ?

Posted on 23 February 2012 by e-news


Sustainable house tour this Saturday: Feb 25th

As at noon on Thursday we have had over 70 people already registered on the MASG house tour.
Online registrations close at noon on Friday, if you wish to come after online registrations close contact Carolyn on 0448 327 791 or come to the registration desk at the Uniting Church Hall on Saturday at 9am.
Cost: $30. Concession/MASG members $20 / $50 a couple

Wash against Waste Trailer help needed

Help MASG raise $500 , stop waste going to landfill, work with a like minded, fun crew and support the WAW trailer.
We need 14 volunteers all up, each spending a few hours on Sun March 11th at the Taradale Mineral Springs festival.
If you can help email or call Kerry 54706978

Commercial composting trail

MASG has received a grant from Council to run a small commercial composting trial using the compost bays at the Hub Plot. The aim of the project is to encourage local restaurants, cafes and other business to compost their food waste rather than sending it landfill.

Compost from food waste is an excellent resource in any garden or food production system; however, food waste is a significant contributor to landfill. As this breaks down, it generates significant levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By removing food waste from their bins, businesses can reduce their waste collection bill by slowing the frequency of their waste collection.

As part of the project, we will be trialling some alterations to one of the bays at the Hub Plot in the hope of boosting the aeration and hopefully the efficiency of the bay. Peter Sansom has done an excellent job of developing this concept and turning it into a reality. We are grateful to the Food Production Group for their help and involvement.

Do you, or someone you know, work in a restaurant or cafe near the Hub Plot? Would you like you business to be involved? If so, please contact the project worker, Caitlin Matthews at or on 0411152056. We may also need volunteers to help with turning compost into bays once it arrives.

The project will run for six months, but it is hoped the information gathered will inform future projects around the Shire.

MASG office clean up: get down and dirty with us

March 4th. Sunday 10am. Vols needed to help sort and move things from storage- 5 years of stuff to clean up and sort.
IF you can help for an hour or two- esp if you have a trailer.
Pls ring Kerry 54706978 or email

Deanna’s farewell drinks

Friday March 3rd 5pm at the Maurucoo Bar, Midland Hotel (also Green Drinks)

Yes to a clean future and drinks at the Maurucoo Bar

Join us as we bid farewell to comfy homes project officer Deanna as the comfy homes project draws to a close.

Community Wind Update

Things are getting underway for an exciting next few months for the Community Wind project, with lots of plans to get out and about in the community. We’re planning presentations, public forums, a survey, community conversations, stalls and more to make sure we get as much input into the project as possible form people across the shire. Stay tuned!
We are seeking expressions of interest from landholders interested in hosting wind turbines on their property.
At the moment there is no specific proposed site for the wind farm. Expressions of interest by landholders will not be binding. Any proposed site would need to be assessed for viability in terms of local neighborhood interest, ecology and technical issues to do with wind flow patterns and grid connection. Based on preliminary analysis by our team of professionals, we know there areas in our shire that will offer good wind speeds as well as meeting strong social, technical, legal and environmental standards.
There would be financial remuneration for rental of the turbine site and access tracks. We would also be seeking to have round-table discussions with all neighbours, to come to a common agreement.

Group Presentations

If you are part of a group that would like more information about the project and the opportunity to ask questions, we are very happy to come and give presentations about the project. We would prefer to present to groups of 10+, and very happy to come to all parts of the shire.

We will also be organising public forums, or Community Conversations, across the shire in  April and May. More information will be on exact dates, venues and times soon. We hope to see you at a community conversation soon !

For more information contact Jarra if, (03) 5470 6978 or 0401952 805.


The Hub Plot is MASG’s demonstration food growing garden. It is a work in progress and all work is done by volunteers
Jobs we’ve been busy with at the Hub Plot include:
• Planting seeds and seedlings for autumn and winter harvesting
• Adding compost to many of the beds
• We’ve covered the baby brassicas with a mesh to exclude cabbage moth
• Harvested seeds for next seasons planting
• Sharing our produce: at our home gardens some of us have had abundant years and others have had their gardens devastated by hail, so it’s great to be able to share our produce.

Following our call for horse manure we’ve had a wonderful offer of trailer loads for our composting at The Hub Plot. Yeah!! Thankyou


At the Hub Plot we like to show various methods of composting and worm farming.
Recently we gratefully accepted a donation of a large aero-bin. If you just happen to have an “end over end” compost tumbler that you don’t use and would like to see put to good use we’d happily accept a donation/loan of it.
Also we have a couple of people dropping off their compostable waste to our system – if you might be interested too, as you don’t have a compost/worm farm yet, please contact Heather on 0409 327791 or or drop in on Monday mornings.

Things to plant in February:
Seeds in ground: Beetroot,Carrots, Peas, Radish, Turnips – yellow (swede) and white
Seedlings in ground: Lettuce
Seeds for winter crops (in seed boxes and protected): Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage (Wombok)

COMING SOON: our detailed Hub Plot Castlemaine Area Planting Guide which is under preparation now.

Items needed for garden shed /garden theme garage sale: we will soon be collecting items for our garden garage sale. If you have tools you no longer need, a worm farm you’re not planning to use, garden bits and pieces that would suit our garage sale please put them aside. Our garage sale will be in a few months but we thought we’d give you plenty of warning to clean out your garden and garden shed of things that might just need a new garden or garden shed home.

Newstead Community Garden are holding a workshop on Sunday 18th of March with Penny Woodward
If you are interested in car pooling from Castlemaine let me know on 0409 327791 (Heather)

Growing the Harvest Festival: 14th & 15th of April.

A special feature of this year’s Growing the Harvest Festival is a
‘Meet your local farmer’ session : connect with the people who grow your food, hear their stories and understand the trials and tribulations of farming in the Mount Alexander Shire.

There’ll also be stalls and workshops. including :

  • Making charcuterie (cured small goods),
  • Bread making,
  • Condiments & preserves from garden excess, especially tomatoes,
  • Jams, marmalades and chutneys
  • Fruit and veggie growing in a dry climate
  • Community Apple crushing and cider making workshop

More will be happening over the weekend, details will follow in the MASG e-news and on the website.
Information about bookings and times will be released next e-news.

GREAT PRIZES: Don’t forget to get your tickets in our raffle. First prize is a $500 gift voucher from the Bold Garden Nursery, 2nd prize is a $100 gift voucher from Green Goes the Grocer and 3rd prize is a $50 voucher from The Good Table. We’d like to thank the businesses for their generosity in donating these wonderful prizes. If you would like to buy tickets or can assist with selling tickets please call into the MASG office or phone Kerry on 54 706978. Thanks to those who have already taken raffle books.

If you are interested to help with tasks leading up to the festival or with volunteering on the day please contact Heather 0409 327791 or

Big Solar Launch: Saturday March 10th.

You are invited to be part of a Big Solar launch on Saturday March 10th at 11 am on at the Castlemaine Market Building. That is a week later than announced last week.

Let’s make 2012 the year of definite action for renewable energy !. Many schools, churches and sporting clubs have shown our willingness to have solar energy with the panels on their rooves and lots of local people have installed panels, now it’s time to build big solar to power our nation.

Last year many in our community went out doorknocking asking people what they thought about renewable energy as part of the national 100% renewables campaign – nearly 90% of Australians want renewable energy. Our work helped establish a $10B new body to finance renewable energy.

Well know it’s time to make sure that money is spent on renewable energy like big solar. So we are launching a campaign in Castlemaine to see that $10B used to make Australia, the sunniest nation on earth, become powered by the sun.

These are already commercially operating in Spain and around the world and now store energy to run all night long, have a look at this YouTube video of the solar baseload Gemasolar plant in Spain.

So bring your family members and invite your friends to the launch and be part of the BIG photo to send to local, regional and national media and to Canberra. (Bring a hardhat / overalls / a building tool to hold for the big photo or just bring yourself !) See you there! For more info ring Dean on 0448 327791 or see us on Facebook.

Pool briefing report

MASG members met with Council’s Director of Economic and Social Development, Carolyn Wallace and two other staff from the Shire, plus the Shire’s ESD consultant. We received a briefing about sustainability aspects of the Castlemaine pool proposal.

While we thought it was worth getting around the table with Council, members also found it frustrating, as although come of our members have very useful skills to offer we were not convinced that Council is looking at making use of this. Our concerns are that this project locks us into the use of fossil fuels, though MASG is able to offer detailed information about renewable alternatives. Also, alarmingly, there is still no modeling on the financial impacts on the running of the pool if gas was to be used and gas price increase. Some estimates are that domestic gas prices could double in the next decade.

The discussion was limited by Council not being able to tell us what the overall energy use will be – which is our biggest concern as we know that the energy use will be enormous; and secondly that so many aspects of a sustainable design are site-specific, but Council staff had to brief us as if the Western Reserve was definitely the site.

The plans list some basic ESD features to be included, but those that are in the ‘may be included’ list needed costings and payback period estimates. Those figures were not available at this briefing. Comments made by MASG at the meeting don’t constitute formal feedback, so any MASG members who want to give feedback to Council need to do it via Council’s website .

MASG would love to work on options for a pool that can be carbon neutral, meet the need for a year-round pool, including hydrotherapy, and that doesn’t undermine other local businesses. MASG will request a follow-up meeting with Council if MASG members would like to be part of discussion on this subject. If you do, contact or leave a message on 5470 6978.

Local and regional events and workshops

Usethings competition

What is the most useful thing you have, or your favourite useful thing?

We are offering a prize to the best entry in three classes of useful things:

1. useful thing bought or given
2. useful thing made
3. useful thing repurposed

Entry is by submitting an image and short text about your useful thing by email. Competition closes on the 17th April and winners announced within two weeks.

The prize is an Opinel paring knife, a very useful thing, for the best entry in each class, to be picked up from usethings store Castlemaine or posted to the winners outside this area.

Submit by email a small (400 pixel wide) image and up to 100 words of text telling us the story of the object and/or your connection with it, to by midnight 17th April 2012.

We will publish many of the entries on our weblog and Facebook page.

Tim & Deb of Usethings

International and national news

Fremantle to ban single-use plastic shopping bags

The City of Fremantle is set to become the first council in Australia to pass laws banning single-use shopping bags. Read more in this abc story.

Lighting Africa

Africa lacks a well connected electricity grid. This presents the continent with the opportunity to grow with renewable energy, rather than follow the mistakes of the West.

More good news from Africa; plans to Plug the world into desert sun

6 hours of sunlight could power our planet for a year

German firms hope projects in North Africa are just the start of a solar power network that will help wean Europe off fossil fuels reports the Sydney Morning Herald as the Desertec Foundation hopes to lead a fundamental change in the way energy is produced in the world.

Europe will vote to keep Canadian tar sands out

The European Union is poised to label tar bitumen more polluting than other forms of oil. That would rule out selling it to Europe according to the New Scientist.

We are nice – naturally! Research on human co-operation –


Frans DeWaal likes Lemurs and says empathy is a biological advantage !

Frans de Waal, a biologist and leading specialist in primate behaviour at Emory University in Atlanta, said his research on higher animals, from primates and elephants to mice, showed there was a biological basis for behaviour such as cooperation reports the ABC.




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