Archive for Latest News

Vale Peter Cundall, Celebrating a Life of a passionate organic gardener

What a sad day with the passing of a wonderful man that inspired so many people to take up gardening. And persuaded those with an already established interest to pursue it for their property.

Inspirational too as a man who demonstrated how older men could be fine examples to boys and men. How to be a ‘modern man’, full of respect and gentle leadership. No surprise he was the Australian Humanist of the Year in 2006.

He inspired the tone and profile of Gardening Australia still seen today in the presenters and the content of the program.

Every week he entertained us with great stories and tips as well as always sharing his wide and deep horticultural knowledge.

For us though, our greatest inspiration was Peter’s passion leading many people to organic gardening. As a conservationist, Peter was part of the generation that fundamentally changed our attitude to our natural resources. Being part of movements such as the Franklin Dam battle. And participation in conservation organisations like the Wilderness Society.

 People like Peter gave those of us starting businesses like EcoProperty and The Eco Real Estate Network the encouragement and energy to pursue our own goals around conservation and organics.

British born and of the Second World war and Korean war generation what a beautiful gift his life has been to Australia. Lucky us! Thank you Peter.

The Change you are Looking for?

This is for a fruit you probably have ever never heard of, with a product range you may have never considered.  Perhaps you have not even considered organics and biodynamics that have now been established for it.

Is it time to do something different with your life?  Have you considered making a significant change but not exactly sure for what.? Do you have an amazing skill set but want to apply it in a very different way?  This is an opportunity that does not come along very often.  If I could have another life, I would do it myself.

What it does provide is an established business, the biggest plantation, plant breeder rights and an enormous upside for the entrepreneurial problem solver.

Let me introduce you to Achacha – think of the cha-cha with Ah in front of it.  It is Bolivian but Queensland is the perfect equal location and that is what these first group of entrepreneurs did.  Went to Bolivia, researched it all thoroughly and then brought it to Australia.

For what is now another perfect product for Australian horticulture.

I’m excited to share this with you and hope that if it is not for you, you may know someone perfect for it. 

Or, ideally I think, a group of people, who could be involved in some capacity.  One or more may choose to live there in one of the 2 existing houses.  And over time the group could build a fantastic Eco Home designed with all the latest and greatest features and systems.  And this could be on the third title available.

So, this is an opportunity to express your values.  If you have a commitment to environmental sustainability you can continue the organic certification and biodynamic systems.  Not essential but you would be crazy not to.

Request the Buyer Prospectus here.  There is also an excellent Investor Presentation.

Immigrate to Australia with a Business Visa

Ever wondered about immigrating to Australia and living down under?

The world seems a little testy right now in the midst of a pandemic, recent terrorism in Europe, Brexit and a rollercoaster USA election to name just a few.

Have you considered Australia as a place to invest and live ? You may be eligible to immigrate to Australia with a business and investment visa.

Every year, over 7,000 business & investment visas are granted under Australia’s ‘Business Innovation & Investment’ program. So if you are an entrepreneur, have a successful business background and/or are able to meet investment criteria immigrating to Australia might be for you.

The visas encompass streams for business talent and entrepreneurs as well as innovation and investment. The business and investment visas are designed to encourage entrepreneurs and successful business owners to settle in Australia.

The two business investment visas are open to qualified investors from all around the World, who want to invest and settle in Australia with their family.

To qualify for business & investment visa in general you need to have net assets/ net value of AUD 2.25 million (held for at least 2 years – below 55 years old) or AUD 5 million (anytime with no age limit) and place these funds in a specified investment range which may include commercial real estate.

A successful business & investment visa means you can live anywhere in Australia and obtain residency status for you and your spouse and children.

Australia is a great place to live and to invest. If you are interested please consult an expert in migration and good luck.

Achacha – Beautiful healthy property – Fabulous regional lifestyle

How about a healthy lifestyle on a beautiful property suitable for a group or extended family growing organic Achacha? As an added bonus the farm is conveniently located only 30 minutes drive from the thriving regional centre of Townsville.

A piece of paradise

This farm is genuinely a piece of paradise with 123 hectares of flat land and beautiful views to Mt Elliott. Highly productive it is planted with 16,000 Achacha trees, 3000 African Mahogany windbreak trees, along with mangoes and coconuts. The annual Achacha harvest is now around 300 tonnes and the fruit is growing in popularity every year as more of us encounter this bright, tangy and delicious summer fruit.

 A flock of chickens live in their own solar powered chicken caravan while 20 lucky agistment horses are used for plantation weed control.

Add to that an abundant water supply and certified biodynamic organic farm practises that have the farm healthy, green, lush and highly productive without pesticides or other harmful chemicals.  A creek also runs through the property and Cromarty Wetlands are on one side and the Wongaloo Wetlands a few kms to the north.

Thriving regional centre

The current farm owners Bruce and Helen Hill  used to be Sydney siders but both say they have fallen in love with the regional lifestyle and climate. Only thirty minutes drive away via the Bruce Highway is the thriving dynamic regional centre of Townsville with facilities for all the family. Townsville has an abundance of schools, the world-renowned James Cook university, comprehensive medical and dental services, a world class teaching hospital, multiple industries and a diverse economy.

A thriving arts scene includes galleries, performing arts and cinemas. Sports fans are well catered for with the new state of the art multi-purpose stadium.

Add an airport with direct regular flights to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and Townsville has all that you or your family are likely to need.

Achacha – organic biodynamic

The journey to reach organic biodynamic certification on this Achacha farm at Giru, 45 km south of Townsville has been a thumping success. The owners have achieved significant cost savings as well as transforming the farm into a lush healthy and highly productive organic operation. Now for sale this organic Achacha farm is a fabulous opportunity to work and live healthily and sustainably.

It makes $ sense

Back in 2012 the cost of farm supplies – fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides – was around $100k per year. A rough rule of thumb in conventional farming is that this bill would have increased every year, year on year by as much as 50%.  This is because as time goes on more and more of these chemicals must be used each year in order to achieve the same productivity.

In 2020 with organic biodynamic processes fully embedded in farm operations for several years the cost of farm supplies is now around $20k per year – an astonishing reduction at the same time production has increased. Being organic no artificial chemicals are used – no insecticides, no herbicides, no fungicides – meaning organic Achacha fruit do not contain harmful residues.

The journey

The current owners Bruce and Helen Hill started the transition to certified organic biodynamic in 2012. The hard work in transitioning to organic biodynamic has been done and for some years now it is just a relatively low cost simple maintenance regime. The results are clear to see – pick up a handful of dirt and it is dark and richly earthy, brimming with earthworms and full of beneficial microbes again.

A peek inside

The farm’s sustainable practises support farm production using a mix of organic/biodynamic principles including clever integration of horses, chickens and bee hives.  As an organic certified farm natural fertilisers are used instead of synthetic chemical fertilisers. Biodynamic practises also support plant and soil vitality with various natural compounds dispersed across the year via aerial spraying or irrigation drippers.

Animals also play their part – around 20 horses are agisted on farm and regularly rotated around the paddocks for weed control especially vines that would otherwise choke the trees. Unlike cows, horses tread gently around the irrigation systems playing an important complementary role on the farm.

Adding to the mix, a solar powered chicken tractor adds natural fertiliser with the bonus of organic free range eggs.

Finally on farm bee hives assist with pollination and the farm produces over a tonne of honey each year.

Transition Support

Bruce and Helen are both passionate about what has been achieved and the benefits. They are also happy to help new owners learn their proven approaches and bed these into farm practices across a transition period. Enquire now about this unique organic Achacha farm.

Community, ecovillage, cohousing, multiple occupancy

Many people often ask us where can I “buy community”.  Of course, most communities are built by the people who live there – the interactions, relationships over time, history of local events.  The features of community that are desirable are connectedness, looking out for each other.   Historically community meant some sort of social unit with certain norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Usually, a place or geographical region.  Since the advent of the world wide web, use of ‘community’ and ‘tribe’ has become much more a sense of shared values and experience.

In establishing cohousing and ecovillages, people have sought to design and build for certain behaviours and values based on a shared philosophy of sustainability.   The intention being a shared vision to create places that will address social, culture, ecology and economy – the four pillars of sustainability. 

CoHousing
Cohousing was first established in Scandinavian countries.  The design of the houses was to encourage frequent interactions and form close relationships, so architecture is important.  Often 20-40-60 homes with large common areas for the residents (and their guests) to interact in. Personal privacy remains important so often the front part of the houses and common areas were for neighbourhood and community interaction and events, the rear part of the houses private.  Ownership, decision-making and community contribution are usually the keys to engender the social and cultural changes desired. Many have consensus whilst others may differ to allow residents to ‘pay’ instead of contributing their labour. Shared resources often mean saving money as well as less expenditure on individual systems such as power and water.


EcoVillages
Ecovillages in Australia have mostly been built in regional areas, often with larger acreage involved. A broader term than cohousing each is designed by the people who live there, even if there is an original overall plan.

Participatory processes apply so that all the knowledge and experiences of members are utilised with the intention of creating a group of people who combine for a shared purpose to live sustainable lifestyles.

Multiple Occupancy
Another feature of ‘cohousing’ in Australia has been multiple occupancies which began in the 1960s as people lived together on land in rural areas with limited money and the desire to live more communally.  Often, they worked to transform degraded farms back to rainforest and bush as part of their philosophy to live close to the land and protect it.

Legal ownership has also developed over the years.  A lot of multiple occupancies became companies with share ownership in the company.  Community title was also established for ecovillages and cohousing.  The simple way to understand it is more like strata title, where there is individual ownership of each house or apartment (and sometimes land) with shared ownership of the community resources (sometimes including some sort of enterprise).  

You can see there is plenty of variety for you to consider.  It is finding one that suits your needs, preferences and budget.   Check out some here at Castlemaine Victoria, Shepherds Ground in NSW and Denmark in Western Australia.  All fine examples of ecoproperty® and available for you now.

The Greater Glider – A treasure in our unique Australian bush

#ClimateActNow

The greater glider has been in the news with 2 new species being discovered making 3 in total. The research team spoke positively about the unique and sweet nature of the greater glider species.

Intrigued to discover some more about these gorgeous and unique animals we mostly don’t see because they sleep during the day in tree hollows and feed during the night.

They have similar habitat dependencies as koalas and prefer older trees with hollows to sleep in and feed almost exclusively on eucalypt leaves. Knock down – or burn – their bush habitat and silently the local greater gliders – and the other critters that also reside there – are gone.

Greater gliders are quiet and rarely heard but you may see large scratches on trees from landing – they launch themselves to glide from tree to tree up to 100 metres in the air.

Living up to 15 years and producing only 1 young per litter per year with the young glider dependent on mum for up to 10 months often riding on her back during glides (which makes me think of a baby on mums zipline lol).

Their individual range is between 0.7 and 3 hectares and they spread their time between multiple hollows and “During mating season you will see them sitting together with their long fluffy tails intertwined,” Dr. Kara Youngetob, one of the researchers from ANU, said.

Listed as vulnerable and declining sharply in numbers, threats to greater gliders include feral species such as foxes, cats and dogs, destruction of their habitat and barbed wire fences.

The Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld is one community environmental organisation working and campaigning for the survival of species and ecosystems including gliders.

Locking up domestic pests overnight, installing nesting boxes and protecting our remaining bush will help their survival. Sadly, gliders are incredibly vulnerable to bushfires and land clearing. Chillingly the recent Australian bushfires earlier this year wreaked not only enormous destruction to communities, farmland and bush it also wiped out nearly one-third of the greater gliders’ habitat.

#ClimateActNow

Quality in living – Achacha a farm worker story

The first thing we consider in our work is quality in living. One of the major impacts of the Covid19 pandemic has been unemployment and worsening under employment.  Separately there is concern about how crops will be harvested given the reduced numbers of international backpackers and other temporary workers who usually do much of this work. Put all this together as we move towards major harvest seasons and we are likely to see some serious labour challenges. 

The workers and their wages
International students and backpackers usually make up around 11% of our working population. However it seems they are being exploited by some Australian employers. A study of the pre-pandemic work experiences of around 4000 students and backpackers has found significant underpayment with fruit-pickers the lowest paid of all. One in three received around half the minimum wage. Worst of all was one in seven workers on fruit farms who earned around $5 an hour – around a quarter of the legal minimum wage for a casual worker.

So it would seem at least some farms are underpaying their workers. Additionally this sector has a strong reliance on temporary workers – students and backpackers whose numbers are now significantly reduced. In the mix also are credible reports of unemployed Australians struggling to land farm jobs despite being keen to work.

This year, when so many Aussies are looking for work it is going to be interesting to understand more of what has been really going on in our agricultural labour market.

Fabulous Farmers
In contrast there are some bright spots where farms and farmers pay award wages by the hour rather than the hated piece rates. They also employ locals and have a reputation for looking after their workers. This should mean they will have less problems in finding harvest labour in their upcoming picking season.

Part of our philosophy and working with our clients in passing on their properties is quality in living.  One fundamental is that people should be paid a fair wage for fair work.  

Achacha
One example of farmers doing the right thing and being respected for doing so are Bruce and Helen Hill. As owners of a unique Achacha farm near Townsville their farm is known as a ‘very good farm to work’ according to the manager of the local backpackers hostel. Payments are ‘by the hour and at award rates’ rather than piece rates, as well as having a  ‘body friendly’ harvest. The picking can be done standing up with no back breaking crouch and no climbing ladders. There is also an added bonus of doing the picking inside the tree shaded from the summer heat. Bruce and Helen are also known for ‘looking after their workers’. A fair wage for fair work.

Bruce and Helen are hoping, along with many other farmers, that they manage to find farm labour this season. The Achacha harvest of around 300 tonnes starts in January and runs through to March, after the local mango harvest finishes. The farm usually employs around half locals and the remainder backpackers.

The farm is also popular with grey nomads who usually stay on for 1-2 months and enjoy breaking their journey on a working organic farm, only 30 minutes away from Townsville.

The farm is organic and biodynamic certified producing not only Achacha but also mangoes and very popular Achacha honey. Their farm tours are also growing in popularity with visitors enjoying the experience of a working sustainable farm. This is a farm that embodies quality in living !

Invest in your Future

The Road Best followed….time to Invest in your Future!

Has 2020 and the pandemic reinforced how fed up you are with city prices for real estate, endless traffic, claustrophobic public transport, crowded busy lives?  Now perhaps working from home successfully means you can seriously consider moving to a regional centre or small town.

Reflections about life has been one of the good things about the pandemic for many people.  Life changes in your home and buying real estate can be about savings, investing in the best life possible for yourself and your family. In real estate investment, location, lifestyle possibilities and eco features can help you make the best future.

Real Estate Prices

Values may seem cheap compared to Melbourne, Sydney, even Brisbane. So, the relief alone and way less mortgage stress of course is fantastic.

Real estate ownership is one of the most important investments you will make. There are some key things to consider.

Which location to go to?  So many people say 2 hours from Melbourne or 3 hours from Sydney but many of these communities have already had major real estate price hikes and already significant migrations over the last 10 years.  Regional centres and associated small towns further out often provide some of the best places to go to.  And, guess what, you don’t actually want to back to the city very often.  More important for you may be transport access.

Future of Work

This is where NBN and internet come in.  Whatever your work now, or in the future, you are going to need good internet coverage.  Check that out.  Both in the town, and at the property which can sometimes be poor.

When we leave our dense cities, space seems so wonderful.  Space has probably become one of the most important features to consider in your regional home.  Working from home, schooling and uni at home, suddenly have become incredibly important.  This could be for always.  Whilst we may recover from this pandemic, we need to face the very real possibility of ongoing further pandemics, and climate change is now at a critical phase.

Spaces

Last week I visited a property where I counted 18 fantastic different spaces for what was needed by a family and all their various needs and stages of life.

If you not only want to go regional or small town but want to grow veggies and fruit you need a site that has plenty of sun – and the right sort of sunlight, and the right amount through the growing seasons.  A few things here.  Check out the climate.  Check out the specifics of the property you are considering.

You can improve the soil anywhere by learning about Permaculture and organics but it does take time.  Buying somewhere with good soil already, or established gardens, can be a real bonus.

Power and Growing Stuff

Then of course water. Growing your own food is incredibly healthy – pleasurable and nutritious. Plucking and eating your greens daily is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  But veggies and fruit and nuts need water.  If you are on town water you will be paying for it through water rates.  If you are on water tanks then you need good rainfall and good clean tanks for drinking and cooking.

For solar panels and to generate your own hot water and electricity you need to have the right roof top and right solar access.  With masses of solar energy installations over the last 5 years you need to check that the property has systems that work well.  Ask to see power bills and energy use.  If neither is yet installed and you know you want to,  you may want to check with a local recommend solar installer and see how they assess the property.

Other important considerations are beach, lakes, ocean, bushland, tourist towns, remoteness.

What about what is the size of the land.  Many of our best properties have an upside that may not be immediately apparent.  Understanding the local community and likely developments not just in the next year or so, but in 5-10 even 20 years.

Increasingly your best investment is what suits your own immediate needs – your own affordability and immediate lifestyle of course.  But buying costs are high, real estate values are far more variable in rural and regional Australia.

We have seen increase in property sales in rural areas and demand for areas that aren’t usually top of people’s lists.

Invest in Values

What is not going to change is the human need for space, for water, for good soil, and one of the most important things now threatening our very existence, climate change.

Look out for our further series on all these issues – you can subscribe on our website to our Eco Updates.

Eco Property Examples

To check out one of our best eco property rated current listings ideal for making your move now. In Victoria

http://ecoreal.co/NungurnerVIC

In South Australia http://ecoreal.co/KeppochSA

Schools Clean Up Day

Schools Clean Up Day is a fun and engaging way to teach young Australians about the responsible disposal of rubbish, resource recovery and the repercussions of rubbish dumped irresponsibly in the local environment.

It’s a day when students and teachers work together to clean up an area which is special to you. It can be the playground, a local park, or maybe bushland near your school – it’s up to you.

Get involved as an individual, group of friends, family, local organisation, environmental group, religious group and more! You can register to Clean Up near you any day of the year! https://www.cleanup.org.au/get-involved-as-a-community-member

Buy Now

Escape from the city to a magnificent, idyllic retreat: Live the ‘tree-change’ dream

The dream of escaping the hustle and bustle of city life and living off the land in a truly eco-sensitive and organic lifestyle is one shared by many but experienced by only a few. For many would-be tree changers, the challenge of growing organic vegetables from scratch or designing the perfect passive- energy home is an overwhelming project.

Just imagine if the hard work has already been done by a pioneering organic farmer and eco-property builder? That’s exactly what is offered in a property situated on the creek flat of the Grange Burn-in easy access of the city of Hamilton, Victoria. Rarely is a modern ‘eco’ home packaged with a thriving organic farm in such a well-situated location, only 800m to the Hamilton CBD.  It is just ripe for the next owner to fulfil the dream of a sustainable lifestyle or organic business from day one. 

This eco-property offers a newly built architectural home and highly-productive, amazingly fertile 4-acre farm, so the buyer can enjoy a simple, sustainable ‘off the grid’ lifestyle while enjoying the benefits of a dynamic regional community just minutes away.

It is currently home to a young family, passionate about organic, zero-waste, sustainable living who are looking to move to expand their horizons and continue their organic farming education by travelling and learning from others.

Hamilton-local Jason Thomas and his family built the home and developed the land into a 4-acre organic farm that is completely self-sufficient and sustaining, providing most of their needs. Power is entirely renewable and stored in batteries, so energy is off the grid, supporting all the technology needs of a modern family home and working farm.

The home is nestled in an idyllic location, mere walking distance to the local community of Hamilton– a thriving regional centre in the heart of the Victorian wool belt. It is close to the historic heritage botanical gardens and nearby Lake Hamilton which boasts year-round recreation activities.

For the naturalist, native Australian wildlife is abundant, including some shy, rarely seen species. From the home’s balcony, you can spy a koala blissfully asleep in the branch of a nearby tree. Wandering down to the creek that runs through the property (feeding nearby Lake Hamilton), it’s common to see a family of platypus swimming and foraging for a tasty yabbie near the footbridge.

For those seeking stress-free, rural life, it provides a rare and much sought after dream of a self-sufficient organic lifestyle and potential livelihood. In the growing season, crops of vegetables, herbs and fruit are abundant, perfect for a productive market garden. The climate is very favourable for organic agriculturalists too with ample rainfall providing year-round irrigation.

Jason and his wife Kelly, both professionally-trained, have now fully embraced the rural lifestyle, and their home has allowed them to grow all their food in an organic, healthy way, care for their children full-time and live a simpler, relaxed lifestyle.

The property is a dream in its flexibility and scalability; for the semi-retired looking for a simpler life, the garden and land can be scaled back to serve the needs of a few. Alternatively, for the permaculture enthusiast and farmer, the property can be scaled up for large scale food production or grazing animals.

Those looking to live accessibly to family or travel to the surrounding Victorian and South Australian attractions will find Hamilton is centrally located; cities, coastal beaches, the Grampian mountain range, Barossa vineyards and bushland are all within an easy driving distance from Hamilton.

The home is architecturally designed to be passive solar for energy-efficiency, regulated heating/cooling and maximising light. This means year-round comfort using the power of the sun, breeze, wood fire and shade. The home still meets all the modern home and business technology needs with a new NBN connection. Being a recent build means there’s nothing to do and maintenance is low.

“As the owner/builder I was able to be hands-on and involved throughout the design and building process, which is crucial with a passive solar home. When you’re trying to achieve energy-efficiency in temperature control, energy-efficiency and lighting, decisions around orientation, materials, heat retention seals, airflow and insulation are important details,” Jason explained.

There is considerable scope to develop the property further. For example, plumbing and electrical provisions were added, allowing for a ground floor extension in the future. “The plan was to add a self-contained apartment to the ground floor of the home, which could be used for B& B accommodation, for example. There are so many ways to expand the home and productivity of this property,” Jason explained.

The property is well regarded and admired in the region, so new owners will find a welcoming and supportive community. Jason has hosted around 200 farm tours, often for school excursions and interest groups learning about sustainability and organic eco-systems.

“We hope the next owners love this place and this lifestyle as much as we do. It’s given us the freedom to live simply, work less, need less, spend more time with our small children and be more conscious about our health and wellbeing. It’s such a tranquil and stunning place, and you can’t help form a deep connection with the land and everything it nurtures.”

16 Pierrepoint Street, Hamilton Vic

National Ride 2 Work Day

National Ride 2 Work Day is Australia’s largest celebration of commuter riding. It is an event that encourages commuters to bicycle to and from work. 

It helps those who never tried commuting by bike to give it a go. It allows regular riders to motivate others, especially their workmates to get involved. 

Riding to work improves your health, save money, care for the environment, increase productivity and make commuting safer. It is also the most time-efficient way to fit exercise into a daily routine. Instead of taking your car,  you can get your recommended daily exercise without having to spend extra time or money at the gym. 

Celebrate and enjoy the benefit of riding to work!

World Homeless Day

The purpose of World Homeless Day is to give attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness.

Causes of Homelessness were lack of affordable housing due to rising property values, limited housing, poverty, loss of employment, under-employment, family breakdown, etc. 

It is something you can point to on the calendar each year and use to make a significant difference in your local community. 

Let us celebrate this day by helping to raise awareness for the homeless in our own community, educate the people about the homeless and help them how the existing infrastructure can be improved. 

CLIMATE CHANGE PETITION

The science is now unequivocal, 97% of climate scientists say climate change is occurring and is human-induced. Already Australia is feeling the impact, with 123 weather records broken last summer and the hottest 12 months on record.

At Environmental Action, we know that no one action will solve the climate crisis. But we also believe that, working together, we can speak loudly enough and often enough to turn the country toward a cleaner, greener path.

We must oppose the opening of more coal mines. We must not let our land be bought and opening spoiled by billionaire mining giants who lack any environmental responsibility.  We must enact a plan to switch to renewables with a realistic goal of 50-100% by 2030

Let us all respect the will of the people and embrace climate action.

Save us from a climate crisis, before it’s too late. Check out this link and sign this petition today. 

Sustainable House Day

Such a great day held each year for people to showcase the fabulous homes they have created and share their knowledge and experiences.

Check out your location on their website to see where to visit. Learn about how to reduce energy and water use. See properties built of hemp or earth. Be inspired, get ideas, appreciate and find the keys to sustainable living.