The house was built in the early ’80s under a pre-existing hayshed. This confers all the advantages of living under a huge roof, which include fire safety, generous water catchment and protection from summer sun, not to mention masses of storage area and no need for separate garages.
We have 12 solar panels and solar hot water. We recently installed double glazing in the downstairs living rooms and are working on fixing our draughts. In winter, our wood heater is the only heating we use (with wood from the property). We cook on the wood stove and, thanks to a recently installed hot water jacket, it heats our hot water too. We have a composting toilet, so no precious water is wasted in flushing. All the greywater is used on the property on fruit trees and the worm farm.
We are self-sufficient in water with 57,000L of drinking water, 76,000L of dedicated fire-fighting water and four dams on the property. We grow all our own fruit and vegetables all year round, and have both a compost heap and a worm farm capable of producing at least 5 tonnes of castings a year. We keep chooks and bees.
On Black Saturday, the entire property was burned, though we managed to save the house itself. Afterwards, with huge help from family and our community, we built a 40m x 8m rammed-earth shed as workshop, storage, etc. Since the clay for the build came from the site and the sand from 2km away, the shed looks as if it has always been here (which, you could say, it has): building it used up very few ‘building materials miles’.
We have extensive plantings of indigenous vegetation as we collect and sell seed from indigenous understorey plants for revegetation projects.
There will be tours every half hour of some of the house’s sustainable features, the orchard and food garden. Please wear robust shoes and warm clothes if you wish to take the tour on Sustainable House Day (and who wouldn’t!). And, as this is a farming area, we ask you to leave your dog/s at home.
Apart from the half-hour house/food production areas tour, there will be various pop-up workshops, depending on demand and the weather. Workshops include one on preserving the summer fruit harvest and an introduction to our large, but simple, worm farm; a tour of the rammed-earth shed; a demonstration of brewing compost tea; a tour of indigenous plants in our seed orchard and a workshop on collecting and cleaning indigenous seed; a workshop on investing your savings or super ethically (a powerful lever for combatting climate change); a demonstration of how to use a sun oven; a workshop on indigenous bees and how to make a bee hotel. We have also recently been exploring biochar making. Biochar is an excellent soil improver. You can read more about it in ReNew #124 here, and we are also happy to share that knowledge with our visitors on 16 September.
There will also be a wide variety of displays on sustainable topics for visitors to browse and there will be home-made refreshments available to purchase all day. There will also be some plants for sale that Clare has potted up from her food garden.
All proceeds of the day go to Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation,which is seeking a cure for this currently fatal disease of children.
Most of the time at Clearwind, you will be outdoors, so please wear lots of layers of clothes, with the outer layer being water and wind proof. Bring a beanie or similar and wear stout shoes. If you are comfortably dressed for the conditions, you will be more able to enjoy increasing your knowledge about sustainability!
Also, Sally who will be sharing her knowledge of indigenous bees and how to make bee hotels, can only be with us between 11 am and 2 pm. So if you are particularly interested in this topic, please time your visit to between those times.
And our Biochar expert also has to leave at 2. Clare and Win know a fair bit about making biochar, but if you want to talk to an expert, please be here before 2.
Past experience tells us that the afternoon at Clearwind gets very busy. If you have the option, we would love to see you earlier in the day when we will have more time to answer individual questions. And our first tour goes out at 10 am promptly if you want to be an early bird! We would appreciate it if you do!
For the weather local to Clearwind, go to: https://www.eldersweather.com.au/vic/north-central/glenhope
Photography by Claudine Collins.