Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Opportunity in East Timor

Merrilyn sent me some information about a project based on permaculture principles in East Timor. Their website www.naterra.org is currently under construction but you can read their newsletters or get in contact with Fernando at info@naterra.org. They have accomodation available for participants in the project.

"the best way to predict the future is to invent it"
naTerra's theme

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Visit at Moon River Lodge

Pioneering for ...

... their future

Sometimes when our high-flying enthusiasm hits the ground we need a little refresh from friends or likeminded people. So I took the chance, when I was in Kuala Lumpur for a Visa Run, to visit my Perma-Buddies Billie and Peng Keat from Melbourne at their project site Moon River Lodge in the Sigar Highlands. I boarded the new ETS which took me in a little more than 2 hours from KL Sentral to Ipoh, a city which emerged out of the tin boom of the 1880's. Billie with a car full of kids picked me up at the station and we headed strait towards Moon River Lodge which is located near the Cameron Highlands. On the winding road we passed many commercial plastic tent farms who export their fresh produce like vegetables, strawberries and flowers to Singapore. Good short term profits but not sustainable as they depend on cheap oil for earth moving equipment, carry in fertilizers, run the pumps for the irrigation systems and carry out the produce to the markets. They just use the cooler climate and don't care about the soil. With Moon River Lodge and Sigar Highlands as projects based on permaculture ethics and design principles Billie and Peng Keat are the pioneers in the region.

Commercial Farms in the Cameron Highlands

Many family members, friends and volunteers are involved in the project and I meet some of them. Peng Keat's mother Nancy supervises the earth works for the access road into the jungle and organises the kitchen crew. Peng Keat's father and Mr. Loo share their knowledge about seeds and growing veggies with me. From Tom, who is visiting with his girlfriend Julie for the weekend, I learn about his turtle protecting project on Tioman Island. It is a vibrant and inspiring atmosphere amongst all these people and I feel welcome and accepted like in a big family.
Billie takes the visitors on a tour around the lodge. Food and flowers are growing everywhere. The passionfruits are abundant and taste like heaven. Lots of leafy green delicacies to pick just outside the open kitchen. A herb spiral, covered nursery and tomato beds, chicken shed, rabbit hutch, worm farm, composting area and tool shed complete zone 1. A little further away is the area for the children's garden, easy to oversee. Some of the mandala- and keyhole-beds are already laid out. Lots of cuttings covered in compost are waiting to be planted by the volunteers who will arrive the following Monday. Later we follow one of the workers on a treck along the little river into the bamboo jungle to a water fall. After one day city jungle in Kuala Lumpur it is a blessing to be here. In the fresh mountain air and with nature's night tune I sleep like a baby.
Sunday is family day. Kid's playing, sharing delicious food and interesting stories, going again through the garden, observing, taking my time and some pictures. Then the family leaves and stillness spreads over the place. The Weekend is over.
Monday is snake day. The workers catch an impressing python which is injured at the back. After breakfast I hike the 9km long trail around the valley of the Moon River Lodge. I collect some nuts and seeds I have never seen before. The trail is quite challenging, lots of ups and downs, but also rewarding with its many view points. After 3 hours already tired and a little worried whether still on the right trail I stop and look around. The sun is already shining hot and nothing is moving. I lift my foot, look down and freeze. Just in front of me lies a 1.5m snake across the trail taking a sun bath. It is definitely not a python, but what then? Better stepping back first and then guessing. I take a picture and then I throw a piece of wood to give her a chance to escape. She takes the offer and slowly winds into the bushes.
In the afternoon Peng Keat brings two volunteers from Holland, Sofie and Stefanie. Together we start sheet mulching the mandala beds and planting the cuttings. The day and my stay ends with a tasty dinner at an Indian Restaurant in Blue Valley. It is Tim's birthday. Delicious roti and roti tisu and many colourful little bowls of yummy-yummies.

Just outside the kitchen: Zone 1 facilities

Trail into the Bamboo Jungle

Wild Vanilla climbing up a tall tree

Snake sunbathing...

Seeds and nuts collected on the trail

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Volcanoes: Are you ready?

Just imagine you live in a village near Gunung Merapi.
If your village is within 20km from the peak you will have to evacuate. How do you leave? What do you take with you? Where do you go? Which route do you take?
If your village is outside 20km of the peak or the way to evacuate is blocked you will have to seek shelter from raining ashes and stones and hot gases and rivers becoming mudflows and other hazards. Where do you shelter? What do you need in your shelter for the next days, weeks? What do you need to protect yourself when leaving the shelter? Imagine there is still a lot of ash and debris and toxic gases. How do you keep informed and in contact with the outside world?
The following links might give you some answers:
- Current reports of the activity of Gunung Merapi from PVMBG (Pusat Volkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi)
- Eruptionblog of Eric Klemetti, a passionate volcanologist
- Desaster preparation from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, USA)

Stay alert and prepare!

Friday, 17 September 2010


Have you ever dreamt of living in a tropical paradise? This is the chance to make your dream come true! Great opportunity to learn about Permaculture in a tropical climate, to join in Balinese village life or just take a break from a stressful lifestyle. JUST DO IT!


We will be returning to New Zealand end of October for one year and would like to rent out our beautiful home in Kayu Putih, Buleleng. It really is a peaceful place set at the end of the village in the hills above Lovina, surrounded by beautiful gardens and if you are here in mango season we have a whole organic mango grove you can help yourself to! Only a ten minute drive from Central Lovina.

  • two bedroom
  • two bathrooms (one outdoor)
  • upstairs space which could be used for study or storing etc.
  • beautiful balcony with sea views overlooking east java volcanoes, beautiful sunsets
  • hot water
  • set on one and a half hectare of organically farmed land full of fruit trees and vegetable gardens, also four horses available for riding.
  • including full time house maid trained to western standard who can bake and cook great food
  • 2'500'000 Rp per month

Please contact Tanya on +62(0)81 264 703 085 or email to pegasusonbali@gmail.com.
Find more details and pictures on our website: www.pegasus-organic-farm.blogspot.com

Thank you and kind regards to everyone

Tanya & Gede

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Meeting at Warung Bambu on 23 Aug 10

The meeting took place at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, 3pm-5pm.
Participants: Beate and Nana, Tanya, Susanne, Ibu Widi, Wayan Ardika and myself. We welcomed John Palmer as a new participant.
The main subject was to organize a marketplace in Lovina for local organic products like fresh vegetables, herbs, homemade preserves, traditionally manufactured arts and crafts, recycled products, natural cosmetics etc. and for sharing information about healthy and sustainable living.
The following issues came up:
Where, when, how often
Conchita is asking the permission of the members of the Rotary Club for the use of their meeting hall. The market will take place every Saturday from 9am to 12am. The starting date and the details still have to be decided with the members of the Rotary Club.
As it might be difficult to get organic certification all products for sale must state their origin with producer name, adress and phone number and it should be possible to visit the production or growing site.
Who, what
We made a list with products to start with:
  • Pegasusfarm: herbs, vegetables and seedlings
  • Susanne: aloe vera, seasonal fruits
  • Gaia Oasis: aloe vera, eggplants, salads, basil, rucola, lemon grass, honey
  • Beate: Bali rice, Bali Asli products, Neem Oil
  • Wayan: cocoa powder, oranges in May/June, compost, eggs, honey
  • Justin: natural cosmetics and mosquito repellents
As soon as place and start date are fixed the organic market will be announced to the public by local newspapers, flyers, round letters, information boards, websites etc. If you want to take part in the market as a seller please contact one of the participants.

organic Bali rice on the left side

  • Nana provided a rice tasting of his organically grown Bali rice and the conventional rice where we could see the difference with our eyes and smell it with our taste buds. The Bali rice takes 140 days to ripen while the conventional rice is already ripe in 90 days.
  • Susanne informed that the Indonesian government currently imports rice and garlic from China which is cheaper than the local rice and garlic and gives the local farmers a hard time. So watch out what you are buying!
  • Wayan informed that the quality of the cocoa beans of our region is very good according to some german chocolatiers who tasted them.
  • Beate wants to know how F1 Hybrids are made and how they work.
  • Nana mentioned that the flavour of fruits from plants which get seabreeze is often more tasty.
  • Please have a look at the website of Embun Pagi. It is a newly opened Permaculture Education site 40km from Kuala Lumpur where you can join the 72h Permaculture Design Certificate Course from 23 Nov to 5 Dec taught by Greg Knibbs and Chakra Widia from Bali.
  • By googling for "organic indonesia" I just found the website for all things organic in Indonesia which I added to the link list.
Our next event will be an excursion to Green Leaf Farm in Bedugul at the end of September. Details will be emailed.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Meeting at Pegasus Farm on August 6, 2010

Mark explaining the life of soils under the Bamboo Pergola at Pegasus Farm

After more than a year we met again at Pegasus Farm where for some of us the journey into the Permaculture adventure started. Tanya and Gede were our hosts and invited us to sit under a lovely shaded bamboo pergola. As usual Beate guided us through the gathering not losing the red thread. We were quite a croud, 5 people from Gaia Oasis, Beate with her gardener, Burgel, Burkhard, Anne with her son Jens and Wayan with his wife, Susanne and Marylin, Klaus, Gina from Sananda Center, Annette and Nyoman, Conchita from Lovina Pages and myself with my gardener Kadek and last but not least Mark Garrett from Australia who offered to join us and share his knowledge about Permaculture Design with us. Everybody was very interested to learn more about soils, the different qualities, its life and how it can be built, taken care of and improved.

Some facts about soil to keep in mind:
  • In the tropics 80% of the plant nutrients are held in the foliage. Therefore crops can only be sustainable if these nutrients are used from tree leaf-drop and root mass.
  • We are not feeding the plant, but the beneficial biota and microorganisms in the soil which later release the nutrients in plant usable form. Grow your soil! Encourage soil life!
  • Bare soil is damaged soil. Always cover soil with mulch. Grow the mulch you need around the gardenbeds and chop and drop. Good mulching plants are lemon grass, vetiver grass, comfrey, canna lillies and legumes such as pinto beans (ask Beate for seeds).
  • Grass and fruit trees compete with each other for nitrogen. Prevent the grass within the area of the trees drip line by mulching or planting a ground cover such as marigolds or pinto beans.
  • Why is it important to know the pH of your soil? The pH is a measurement for the acidity - alkalinity of the soil. It ranges from 1, very acid, to 14, very alkaline, with 7 as its neutral point. The pH-Level influences the availability of nutrients to the plants. At pH 7 all nutrients are available. At a lower pH, which means more acidic soil, some nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium and magnesium become less available and can manifest in plant deficiencies. The same happens with a more alkaline soil. Usually in the tropics you find acidic soils.
  • How to test the pH of your soil? There are easy test kits available in Australia. If anybody knows a provider here in Bali, please let us know.
  • How to bring your soil towards pH 7? As a general rule mix in compost and mulch heavily. For specific situations analyze your soil well and observe the plants if they show any diseases or deficiencies. As a fast cure use foliar spray of seaweed extract or liquid manure.
For more details on soils there is a specific chapter in the Permaculture Designer's Manual of Bill Mollison.

Some questions were raised regarding treatment for pests and diseases. Try not only to treat the symptoms but also to find the cause, very often an imbalance in the system. Nobody knows all the answers. Go and try, come back and tell!

Beate's red tiger compost worms from Temesi have been very busy and turned all the cow manure and food scraps into worm castings. What to do next with them? Just put everything on a plastic sheet into the sun. The worms will retreat to the coolest spot. Take away the worm castings and put the worms back to their container with new cow manure. Worm castings are excellent for seedlings.

Conchita will write an article about our group and the meeting in the october issue of the Lovina Pages.

Marylin offered 2 DVD's about Permaculture to the group. She will also take orders for things that are only available in Australia.
There will be another meeting in August at Warung Bambu to discuss and organize an organic market in Lovina.
The meeting in September will be an excursion to design the new site of Beate in the village of Manuksesa.
Detailed information and dates of the events will be sent by email.

THANK YOU Mark and all the participants for contributing time, interest and sharing knowledge!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Excursion to Temesi on June 18, 2010

Beate had organised an excursion to the Temesi Waste Recycling Plant near Gianyar and offered to drive us there. She is a great example for Permaculture fulfilling so many functions in one person! Thank you, Beate. Burgel, Burkhart, Gede and Komang from Villa Manuk and me joined the group. Thank you, Burkhart for navigating us there through the maze of Bali's roads.

our group with our compost guide

huge pipes are aerating the compost heaps

After an early babi guling lunch at a Warung we reached the plant around 11am. David, the enthusiastic, crazy and persistent heart of the project, greeted us and a skillful employee took us on a tour. We were very impressed by the sheer size of the plant and the little smells. In a big open hall several huge heaps of organic waste lay in a row. 40 tons of waste are daily delivered from the region of Gianyar to the plant. The drivers have to pay an entrance fee. At one end of the long hall workers from Java sort the waste into organic and non-organic. They are paid 40000Rp. per ton. The bigger parts in the organic waste are shreddered first and then put together with the smaller parts onto a heap. This is the first heap in the row. All heaps are aerated several times every hour and after 2 weeks turned over to the place of the preceding heap. The last heap of the row is sieved and packed into bags. The rest goes through the process again. Some of the mature compost is mixed with cow manure and then granulated to be used as fertilizer. The plastic which was sorted out is recycled into various products like shopping bags and woven storage boxes.

end of the composting process: sieving machine

After the tour David offered us some time for answering questions and sharing some insights like:
  • How the plant covers its costs.
  • How soil analysis is done by measuring pH, connectivity (mineral content) and content of organic material.
  • How the diseases of coklat and banana trees probably can be healed by the microorganisms contained in compost.
  • The principles of aerob vs. anaerob compost.
  • How the kyoto protocol works by selling CO2 credits.
  • How difficult it is to sell the compost because many farmers already forgot how to use compost. The price for a 20kg bag high quality compost is 20'000Rp.

As a souvenir we all got some red tiger compost worms.

View from Sari Organik Restaurant in Ubud

Our next stop was Ubud, where we walked through the rice fields to Sari Organik, an organic farm with restaurant. We had a delicious lunch with wonderful view over the rice fields. Then we visited the organic garden.

Solar drier at Sari Organik, Ubud

On the drive home we discussed about promoting walking and setting up a website for trecking in Buleleng connecting existing information and documenting new discoveries.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Meeting at Warung Bambu on May 15, 2010

The Meeting was held at Warung Bambu from 3pm to 6pm. Burkhard, Johann, Beate and partially her husband Nana, my friend Teres from Portugal and myself shared the following topics and experiences:

Evelyn about Mind and Life Conference in Zurich, Switzerland, about Altruism and Compassion in Economic Systems:
I was very excited to be at the same time in Zurich as the Dalai Lama and having the opportunity to participate in the above Conference which was accompanied by him. The Conference was held as a dialogue in 5 parts on 3 days between leading women and men from the fields of Economics, Neuroscience and Contemplative Sciences such as Philosophy and Buddhism. On the detailed proceedings of the conference please read this blog and find information about the Mind and Life Institute here.
My highlights from the conference:
When I studied economics in the eighties, emotions and compassion were explicitly excluded from economic laws and the whole science was based on a egocentric view of the human being which only wants to maximize his own benefit. This view is changing. Finally altruism and compassion start to be included into economic science.
It is not only talking. There exist already many projects which are based on ethics, compassion and generosity like
  • the barefoot college in India, which trains grandmothers from Africa and India as solar engineers within 6 months
  • the Forma Futura Invest company which invests and manages funds based on 180 criterias including ethical and ecological ones
  • big banks who suddenly invest in microfinance projects. ok, they do it because they realize that these projects are successful.
The conclusion that we are all connected and therefore everyone counts and is important. Start with yourself and be the change you want to see in the world.

Evelyn about her visit of Tamera Healing Biotope in Portugal:
Tamera is an experimental and educating site for the building of peace villages worldwide. It is located in the Alentejo, a very dry region in southwest Portugal, on 134ha of land. Currently more than 200 people live and study there. A part of the project is the permaculture design for a village with 300 people. The main issue in this region is the water supply. With 600mm/year there is enough rainfall, but due to mismanagement like overgrazing and roads built in the valleys the water runs away too quickly leaving the soil dry and causing erosion. Tamera asked Sepp Holzer, a permaculturist from Austria, for help and he immediately envisioned a landscape with connected lakes where the water can slowly sip into the earth. 2 years ago they started with building dams, moving the road and terracing the land around the lakes. Thanks to heavy rainfalls in the winter the lakes are already filled, the terraces are planted with various fruit trees and guilds of veggies. It looks like a miracle. Many wild animals are already attracted to the lakes. The river which usually went dry in summer runs now all year round. Yes, it can be done! Please find more information about Tamera on their website.

Beate told us that for a Visa to Germany you have to apply now at the embassy in Jakarta instead of Kuta. She went there and had a great time shopping.

Beate told us about her experiences from the participation at the Earth Day in Ubud. The theme was "what are you doing to make the world a little better". Many locals took part and were very motivated. Beate made valuable contacts. Her highlight was riding an electro bike through Ubud. She suggests that we take part next year with our group.

Beate has contacts to a group who wants to find and build trecking paths in Bali. How exciting to walk around Bali by foot. In the Algarve in Portugal they just finished the Via Algarviana, a walking path through the countryside to promote a sustainable development of the region.

BIWA wants to sponsor a digital mammogram machine at the cost of US$ 69000 for breast cancer diagnosing. Teres mentioned articles and studies that this does not prevent breast cancer. The only way to prevent breast cancer is a healthy lifestyle. So instead of investing money in an expensive machine it is probably better invested in promoting and educating women in a healthy lifestyle.

Burkhart informed us that in Lovina from now on only cow shit is allowed as fertilizer for rice.

We talked about how the meetings could be improved so that more people get interested and take part. The next meeting will be an excursion to the Temesi waste recycling project on Friday, June 18.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A visit in Sambirenteng. Minutes of the meeting on 15 April 2010

Last week a small group of us (Annett, Nyoman, Beate, Johann, Pak Suwenten and me Burgel) went to visit the building site of Holiway in Sambirenteng, north east coast Bali. Thank you Maria and Stefan for inviting us!
It's a large plot of land, a part will be built up with villas and the other part with bungalows. The concept is to create a place for "holidays with sense" in an environment friendly surrounding. Therefor buildings like seminar rooms for different kind of seminar and body work, swimming-pool and installations for waste water treatment and alternative energy are planned.
First we inspected the land protecting wall towards the sea. "Geotextil", a 100 year lasting material, is put in layers in that way, that soil is not washed away (and it even catches sand towards the land). To hold everything large volcanic stones are put to a wall with a slope. It is important to arrange the stones in the right way, then it will last a long long time. No concrete at all is added. For better protection vetiver grass with its very long roots is planted in a long line the whole length of the retaining wall. Hopefully the place is not too salty for this excellent land protecting plant.
Besides "geotextil" another interesting materiel is used there: a kind of styrofoam with both sides covered with thin aluminum. This is used as roof isolation to keep the coolness inside the rooms and to reflect the heat from the sun. Air conditioning is planned for the rooms, so with this isolation for sure energy will be saved.
Electricity from solar energy is planned for machines and devices which are used during day time, such as washing machines and pool pump. So, no need for batteries.
Johann recommended "Solahart" to make hot water with their solar water heater. The cheaper product line from Solahart is called "Handal".
For the waste water treatment they use the system from "IndoBio". 5 houses are joined together for one 3-chamber-system. One chamber has aerob bacteria, the other one anerob bacteria and the last one is with ozone. In the end the water is 95% cleansed and it will be used to water the garden. Too much toilet paper causes problems to this system. Unbleached toilet paper can't be found in Bali.(Does someone know where? Please tell us!) Therefor toilets with integrated hygiene "wiping" with water in stead of dry cleaning with paper are already ordered. Hopefully the future guests and owners will understand.
A nice lunch filled our hungry bellies before we were leaving this interesting site.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Bali, Greece, Africa, trees everywhere!

Remember the beautiful story by Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees, which Norm gave to us to read during or Permaculture seminar last year? Well, there are people who turn fiction to reality.
Please watch the following inspiring video about a man who planted one million trees in his homeland Ethiopia.
I started also, here in Paros, Greece :)
My warmest wishes to all of you

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Permaculture-Excursion to the Bukit on 23rd of March 2010

On the 23rd of March a few of our club joined an excursion to the South of Bali to learn more about Solar-Energy.
Thanks to the kind invitation of Florian Nitsch from Contained Energy to meet in the R.O.L.E Foundation we all visited for the first time this place with great Education, Awareness & Assistance Programs. We were specially interested in the Eco Construction and Organic Agriculture.

At first we got information about solar energy, solar dryer, biogas and how to produce small torches from Jatropha oil. Sitting in the shadow on the top of the site in the nice ROLE café (with amazing view!)we enjoyed to discuss in detail all our ideas and question we had concerning solar energy. Thank you Florian for all the useful information and your time.
solar dryer
torches made of jatropha oil and kapok

We finsihed our visit in the R.O.L.E foundation after we got a guided tour through other parts of the area where we could visit the Spa and got explanation about Aloe vera, also very interesting the weaving program and the Organic Agriculture Site.
For sure it was not the last time we have been there.

Afterwards we visited the office of Solar Power Indonesia. Without having an appointment we were very lucky to meet the Engineering Manager who gave us also valuable information.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Battery Recycling

Waste Collecting Station in a Supermarket in Switzerland

Hello from Zürich in Switzerland where it is still quite cold and spring is only slowly taking command. I want to let you know about the souvenirs I carried with me on my trip from Bali to Switzerland. Because there is no battery recycling plant in Indonesia as far as I know I took the used batteries I had collected with me. It was about 2kg. Quite heavy but they didn't need a lot of space in my baggage.
In Switzerland exist 12000 battery collecting stations in various shops and supermarkets. There is a law which obliges the shops which sell batteries to take them back for free. The recycling costs are included in the price of the batteries. More than 60% of the sold batteries are returned for recycling with increasing tendency. Source of these facts: http://www.littering.ch/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=318
So I took the batteries to the nearest collecting station and deposited them there. Now wondering where they will go next. As I had heard of waste transports from industrialized countries to development countries I wanted to be sure that my batteries were not shipped back to Indonesia or another country or dumped somewhere into the ocean. I was very happy when my research led me to Batrec Industrie AG, a company situated in Switzerland specializing in recycling. All collected batteries in Switzerland go there and are recycled according to the highest quality standards.
For your used batteries I suggest, as long as there is no recycling plant in Bali or Indonesia, to collect them in our group and whenever I travel to Switzerland I will carry them there.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Meeting in Pictures

opening the grease trap at Gaia Oasis

listening to Beate

wastewater garden at Gaia Oasis hillside

markisa or passionfruit at Gaia Oasis hillside

Aloe Vera growing at Gaia Oasis hillside

Beate and Mank, old team mates

Swimming Pool at Gaia Oasis hillside

Burgel really wants to know how this Pool Chemistry works

herbgarden at Gaia Oasis

view from Gaia Oasis hillside

Burgel, Markus and Burkhard discussing

wastewater garden at the home of Markus and Mank


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Minutes of the 13th Meeting on Feb 17, 2010

Beate organised again a day fully packed with exciting events:
- at Gaia Oasis, Tejakula and Abasan: waste water garden and organic vegetable gardens
- at the home of Markus and Mank: waste water garden and solar energy system
- at Renate's place: Aqua Fitness

When I arrived at Warung Bambu 15 minutes too early I met her munching homemade bread and cake and joined for a kopi Bali. Soon after Burgel und Burkhard arrived and the cake had to be saved for Beate's kids. At 8.30am the expected transport had not arrived so we mounted our motor bikes and headed eastward along the coast to Gaia Oasis where our host Sabine welcomed us with drinks, lots of fruits and these yummy belinjo chips. As there were some new faces around the table we started with an introductory round: Burgel, Carlos, Jenny, Markus, Beate, Mank, Burkhard, Sabine, Renate, Violetta and me. Welcome everybody! Great to see so many people interested in Permaculture.
For those not so familiar with Permaculture, find a definition here.

1. Soap nuts or krerek in bahasa
Beate told us about her first experiments in using them for washing, as dishwashing liquid and hair shampoo against dandruff. Better don't try to mix them in a blender as you can get explosive results with soap nut liquid splattered all over the kitchen!
Burgel gave us her recipe for using the soap nuts in the washing machine: soak about 12 nuts in water, open them, wrap them in a textile bag and put them into the washing machine. It is not recommended to reuse the nuts because most of the saponine will be rinsed off during the washing cycle. But they still can go to the compost heap.
Here you can find more information about soap nuts or just google soap nuts.

2. Waste water garden
Beate showed and explained us the waste water system at Gaia Oasis with the grease trap and the cleaning plant.
Most of the waste water of restaurants and hotels in Bali still go untreated to rivers and to the sea. Reasons for this might be ignorance and giving low priority to the issue by owners when investing. We all can help to build awareness of the issue by getting interested and curious and asking questions in the hotels and restaurants where we are guests.

3. Garden tour at Gaia Oasis Abasan
Sabine and her gardeners took us on a tour through the vast property. The Lontar palm indicates that the climate here is more dry than around Singaraja. We discussed the local way of composting: just digging a hole and filling it with organic matter and then covering it with earth. Very energy saving, but during the rainy season probably too moist and no oxigen. We opened a hole and found some sticky earth with rotted leaves, not bad smelling, but not as good as this crumbly, black, earthy smelling stuff from a compost heap. We still wonder how anaerobic composting works and why it is less recommended than aerobic composting. This is some homework, guys!
Another subject was the water treatment in swimming pools. How does a chlorinator work? What chemical processes and elements are involved? Some more homework! But even without understanding the pool chemistry the water in the swimming pools of Gaia Oasis looked very clean and refreshing and there was no chlorine to smell.
The garden beds were not mulched. Sabine explained that it is difficult to motivate the gardeners for mulching. They usually just put the cow shit on top of the earth. Does that hurt the plants or can this cause diseases in humans when they eat the plants?
During the tour the gardeners kept feeding us with freshly picked rambutans. The markisas were thriving and we passed beds of beans, corn, basil, aloe vera, salads and other greens and medicinal plants.
The first rain drops and a rolling thunder reminded us to head back to the restaurant. But not before we got that lemon basil plant that Sabine offered us for taking home.
Time to say Good-bye to Sabine and her gardeners, to Jenny, Carlos, Renate and Violetta who had other duties.

4. Visit at the home of Markus and Mank
After a stopover at a Warung down by the beach we went on to the home of Markus and Mank to see their newly installed solar energy system.
There are 2 providers for solar panels in Bali: Contained energy and Solar Power Indonesia. Markus brought some of his equipment like the inverter from germany. He explained us the main elements of his solar energy system: solar panels, car batteries, inverter and control unit. Well done! We all except Burkhard envy Mank for such a technically talented husband.

As it was already 4pm and the clouds looked heavy with rain I passed on Renate's invitation to water therapy.

Thanks a lot to Beate for organizing the day and to Sabine, Markus, Mank and Renate for hosting us.
Next meeting: Beate plans a trip to South Bali to visit the show room of Solar Power Indonesia. She will email the details.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Minutes of the 12th Meeting on Jan 24, 2010

Excursion to Manuksesa on Sunday, 24th January 2010. Beate offered to host the meeting at Villa Manuk in the home village of her husband. Elena arrived already on Saturday at our construction site and we spent some time indulging in her plans going back to Greece and doing permaculture design work at the Tao's Center on the island of Paros. On Sunday morning we all, which means Elena, Burgel, Beate and Nana, Burkhard and me, met at Warung Bambu to drive together to Manuksesa. As it is Rambutan season now we stopped when we saw a man standing by the road with a basket full of the juicy hairy fruits. With a big smile he just gave us a big bundle of fruits as a present.
In the village Beate first showed us the current situation with the grey water from the houses along the village road. From each house a 1.5" or 2" pipe comes out of the foundation wall and goes at right angle down to the gutter along the road. As the road is not very steep and the people don't seem to use much water (maybe there is no running water in the houses), the dirty water is dripping out of the pipe into the open gutter leaving smells and solids there while seeping away. The houses seem to have toilets with septic tanks. All the same some older people still have the habit to shit into the little river which runs through the village. Beate received a generous donation for her Children Project. So the idea is to use that money to improve the waste water situation in the village. A few ideas came up:
  • collect the greywater in a pipe system which leads to a common waste water garden in the village
  • build a waste water garden for each household
  • build a common bath house with waste water garden
The project now needs to be defined more clearly like identifying the needs of the people, identifying all resources, choosing a site, doing a functional analysis of a bath house etc.
Nana led us to the house where he was born and his family still lives. In one room the organic rice which was harvested the traditional way a few month ago was stored in a big heap, the rice corns still on the stalk.
Then we toured Villa Bambu and the garden where our eyes were caught by some monster papayas and a spinach with a stem like a tree. The vetiver grass in the waste water garden is thriving and the Sawo trees are hanging full of fruits. The pool is surrounded with various flowers which attract a variety of butterflies. Beate did a great job furnishing and decorating the rooms.
After a yummy nasih goreng from the organic rice we enjoyed a swim in the refreshing water of the pool.
Beate told us the feedbacks she received for the waste management concept which we discussed during the last 2 meetings and Elena volunteered to do the final editing before it is handed over to Ibu Ambari from the Governor's Office.
Our next subject was health. Who knows a good docter? Which hospitals are recommendable? What to do in case of an accident? Where to get a good treatment or therapy?
Burkhard informed about an initiative to form a fund which guarantees the payment for a helicopter flight in case of emergency. Often here in the north of Bali the problem is how to get somebody who is seriously injured from the accident site to a good hospital or the airport in order to be flown out to a good hospital. Burkhard will research the actual state and conditions of the fund.
Before we left Villa Manuk Beate showed us the simple but very effective grease trap made from 3 plastic buckets connected by pipes. The buckets are close to the compost place. So it is very convenient to clean the buckets often and throw the grease to the compost heap. Hidden in the lids of the buckets and some half cutted bamboo stems we found some standing water with moskito breeding places. So, don't forget to check for any standing water around your house to avoid Dengue Fever.
More informative articles about health issues you can find on the website of Bali4kids.

And last but not least some news and hints from our guru:
Wish I could come this Sunday, but we've haven't got a tutor for this school term, starting next Monday, so I'm it. This means I have to start preparing to teach, so I won't be able to join you... For the wastewater system, just remember the Principles that guide your design.
  • For septic tanks and treatment gardens, bigger is better! The longer the wastes are in the system, the more time there is for treatment. Longer time in the system is better.
  • Watch the slope in piping, always. The absolute minimum is 3%, but 5% is better. Avoid 90' L's in WC piping to the septic tank. Use 45' L's.
  • Make sure you prevent any solids from getting into the perforated garden piping.You may need something like a grease-trap, to catch solids like hair, soap, plastic etc...
  • Put a P Trap between the Mandi/Wastafal (all grey water) and the septic tank. DO NOT RELY ON THOSE CHEAP, FLOOR-DRAIN FITTINGS TO STOP SMELLS COMING BACK INTO THE MANDI, FROM THE SEPTIC TANK! Buy P Traps, with a screw-cap on the bottom, so you can drain off any solids that accumulate there.
  • Short breather pipes mean smells and mosquitoes! Breather pipes should go above the eaves of your roof, if possible.
Do please email me, if you need some help, or confirmation, for your design. (Don't forget the Sikaflex..! :)
Same for the waste management program. Stay with the basic Principles, and feel free to email, if I can help. And, at the risk of repeating the same thing too often... The Key is... a Collection Service, which does not (usually) pick up organic wastes. Transporting garbage is expensive. If possible, work with Pemulung, let them collect the recyclables. If you can, build a TPS, and give someone a job managing it.
I seriously can't wait to swim in B & N's natural pool. Enjoy, you guys!

NORM'S CURRENT WORK: I'm currently doing a tree-planting project in the protected forest above our place. We are planting 4,000 fruiting, native trees on 5 hectares, that was cleared illegally, back in the 70's. Locals have made money supplying the bibit, and doing the work. More and more large corporations are willing to sponsor this kind of project. This one is being paid for, by Standard Chartered Bank. We've just erected an information sign (attached) on the road to the rainforest. Including the structure, and the sign itself, the whole project cost Rp4.5mil. We have Indonesian in big letters and English in small letters. In other words, the sign is primarily for locals, not tourists. The sign was sponsored by one of our guests. I've attached pics of the sign and a (water cycle) drawing we used. I have all the graphics in pdf and jpeg formats. You're welcome to use them. Just email me and I'll send them to you. We feel information signs, including rules and regulations, are one more part of what's needed, to protect our natural areas.

I'm currently building, and doing a PC design, for a lovely new family, who are moving from Australia to Bali. They've contracted 1.5h, not far downhill from our Lodge. They're building a very similar place to ours, which in this case, they'll call an 'Eco-Stay' I invite you guys, to come and look at this project sometime. They have a lovely clean stream to swim in, and we're hoping to install a micro-hydro electric system (they have a 12m waterfall) to power the whole property.
For those of you with diesel gen-sets, Chakra is reporting 25% fuel savings with his latest hydrogen set-up. He's busy and hard to get hold of, so it's best to go to him, in Ubud. He also does very simple, biogas digestors, and he teaches SRI (organic) rice farming.

LINDA, Is currently setting up a TK at our local Banjar, and she recently joined a PKK meeting to bring reliable information, about typhus and rabies, to local women. She also put a range of nice vegetable seeds in small packs, and sold them to the ladies. In our village, 1 year ago, Linda started sponsoring a new Silat class, which has been a big hit, especially with the girls. She is about to try soap nuts, to replace expensive, liquid soaps (thanks Silv'), and she continues to manage the Eco Lodge, brilliantly.
It's the wet season, so, If you're getting rains, especially in that tough, North-coast climate, this is definitely the best time for you to be planting your fruit trees!

DISASTER STUFF: There's lots of disaster talk around nowadays. For what it's worth, in my opinion, the most likely threat you face (apart from the obvious threat of earthquakes) on the North coast, is Storm Surge, possibly, combined with storm-water flooding. It's a temporary raising of sea-levels, caused by weather, it can reach heights of several metres, and more if combined with heavy rains. You'll get the picture from Google or Wikapedia... Those of you on the coast, might consider raising important infrastructure up, a couple of metres off the ground - for example, gen-sets & water tanks.
Elena has been doing wonderful things for us, up here in the mountains, but she's looking forward to catching up with all of you. She could probably use a bit of sun too!
Take care everybody, Norm

As date for the next meeting Wednesday, 17th of February 2010, is scheduled. Please let Beate know about sites to visit or subjects to be covered in the meeting. Wishing you all a good time SAMPAI JUMPA LAGI!