Personal sustainability and back breaking fun

One of the reasons I began working for myself is that a full time job with a consultancy didn’t give me the time to work on all of the interesting projects that are out there in the world.  I like what I do, but I want to do other things too.  Here’s what I did on my weekend.

Actually, it all started last summer. Or maybe 20 years ago…about twenty years ago I started reducing the number of things that go into my bin.  Each time I emptied it I took note of what was in there and tried to think about what I could do to reduce it.  For instance, I stopped using margarine because I was fed up with having so many  “useful” margarine containers.  I can put the paper butter wrapper into my compost.

Last summer, I realised that most of my waste was cans of tomato, so a friend and I got together and set ourselves up to make passata. It was a hard day’s work, but we’ve eaten 1-2 jars a week all year, and I don’t have to spend money to make pretty instant, fabulous  dinner AND there are fewer tins in my bin. The no money part has also been useful for this lean first year of business.

So this year, I’ve been thinking about how to get tomatoes.  And I have a friend with a backyard aquaponics setup that has been a bit neglected. Aquaponics is like hydroponics,  but the plant nutrients are provided by fish.  The water from the fish tank is pumped through the grow beds.  The plants and gravel clean the water for the fish, and the fish nutrients (aka poo) feed the plants.

So I started a project:  I’ve crowdfunded amongst my friends to get the greenhouse and fish production system going, some of us have been involved in working bees to do the work, and at the end of summer we should have 500kg of tomatoes and 100kg of fish. Also some greens and basil. I guess I’ll also have a much better idea of the practicalities of systems like the greenhouse on top of the supermarket.

This weekend we installed the cover on the greenhouse, collected and delivered the fish into the fish tank and weeded the grow beds.  See?fishytomatoes

With added bonus, kids preparing pots to grow seedlings. It was so hot in there, the kids soon lost interest and set up a beach party at the water outlet you can see in the background.  It was 10degrees outside – it works!