Sustainable House Day 2010 – Wrap Up

If there was a movie titled “Gav & Kim’s Most Excellent Adventure”, we would have starred in it yesterday.

What a great feeling it is to open up our sustainable home to the public and receive so many visitors.  How many, I hear you ask?

96 humans, 2 dogs, and 9 volunteers.

That makes 107 visitors in total!  I got to meet quite a few readers of my blog, who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to.  I also had a visit from some of the people I met at the ACF Community workshops down at Caroline Springs back in May/June.  We even received and accepted five new members for the Melton Sustainable Living Group.

So here is an extract from the evaluation report I sent in to the national coordinators, so that you get a better idea of how the day ran.

Volunteers – All the volunteers were members of the Melton Sustainable Living Group. I am glad we had so many, because at times we were stretched to the limit. One tour finished and another started! It is better to have too many volunteers than too little.

Coordination – The day ran very smoothly. Tours started dead on 10am and began small, but grew in size as the people started flowing in. Every volunteer had an assigned role and knew what part to play on the day. The last person walked out the gate at 4.02pm

Sponsorship – No local sponsorship was sought, and no national sponsors visited either.

Media ( local ) – I managed to get a story in the local news paper. Here is the link. We also had a brief interview on the local radio station which was broadcast on Sunday 5th September. I also turned it into a podcast for my blog (The Greening of Gavin). You can here the interview here.

Promotion ( local ) – We did a pamphlet drop around the neighbourhood a week before the event. Not many people mentioned that they heard about us from this method.

Signage – Laminated arrows were used at major intersections towards the house, and we made up some entrance and exit signage using the provided logo. It worked well, and most people found us alright.

Ancillary Events – None organised. There was not enough time or volunteers.

Administration – I must thank the National organisers for the great administration by prompting local organisers each week on what was outstanding. We managed to submit all paperwork on time (I hope)

Outcomes – It was a fun day, with lots of interested visitors. We also managed to gain 5 new members for the Melton Sustainable Living Group. This has doubled our numbers! We cannot wait until next years SHD 2011. Hope it is bigger and better and that we can convince more home owners in the district to get involved. The great thing was that this event was a first time for our shire.”

 So here are the pictures. 

The welcome table, with sponsor information.

Which was manned by Amy, my daughter and one of the founding MSLG group members.  Her welcoming skills were second to none.  She has had enough practice working at K-Mart!

Here are the display boards of containing pictures of inside things we had achieved.  We didn’t have the inside of the house open for inspection, because it just looks like a normal house.  We didn’t think there was much point to it really.  Suffice to say, the renovations we have completed were as green as we could make them with the funds available.

The preserve, jam and soap table.  Many visitors were very impressed that I made all of these with our surplus fruit and veggies.

Me giving a tour of the chook house.  The kids were most interested and nearly everyone were surprised that they were not noisy or smelly.  I think we had a lot of chook converts on the day.  Lots even go to pat Poppy (the black broody Pekin bantam).  She didn’t mind at all.

Here is an example of one of the fantastic signs that Kim made out of left over kitchen tiles from our renovation.  Just the right size for a sign.

Here is another example under our mandarin tree.

The east side of the house including the wicking bed, which everyone was most impressed with, especially the part about the recycled red-gum from the kitchen stud walls.  I think we have a few converts for wicking beds as well.  So many people mentioned that they had big areas of concrete and have now found the ideal method to grow food on it without ripping it all up!  The big bonus is that besides only have to water it once a week, there are no weeds that can grow through the bottom.

And here is a closer shot of the wicking bed fully planted out.  I have observed that it gets about 4 hours direct sun in the morning and about 3 hours of diffused light via the laserlight in the roof.  Should be just right for salad greens.  Note a few more signs under the fruit trees.  Kim mentioned tonight that they are now going to stay there permanently!

This is Jan (one of the members) and I taking a breather and a well earned glass of water.  About 2 minutes after this photo, we were both back on tour!

Not many shots of the guests; a) because I want to protect their privacy, and b) we were just too busy.  I just worked out that we had a visitor every 3.75 minutes.  Amazing stuff, which just goes to show that people out there want to learn about all things sustainable.  Of course, many had a preference for knowing about solar power, solar hot-water, and the chooks, however by the end of the tour they learnt much, much more.

If you want to read more about the day, pop over to the Oh-My-La blog for a visitors perspective on how the day went for her.  Christie and her partner were so keen and eager to make a difference.  It is refreshing to get another view, because we were all so flat out that we didn’t have time to scratch ourselves.  

We did however celebrate after everyone departed with a nice cheese platter of local cheeses, some local wine and home brew beer.  And of course a big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who were the tour guides and welcoming committee for the entire day.  It was a great help, and goes to show that our little community group is growing stronger and resilient each and every day!  A big thanks to Rick and Renata, our neighbours who took the photos above, and are now the newest members of the MSLG.

Oh, by the way, Kim wanted me to add these photos on the end of the post to show you all the beautiful blossom on our stone fruit trees.

Nectarine blossom

Plum (satsuma) blossom near the chicken run.

And as the sun sets on a fantastic day in our front yard orchard, both Kim and I are very keen to open up our home again next year for Sustainable House Day 2011.  Looking forward to seeing more of you there!


  1. says

    Sounds like the day couldn’t have gone any better for you. That must make you feel pretty proud I would imagine to know that people are walking away after seeing what you and your family have done, feeling inspiring and wanting to make changes because of what they have just seen. Well done :-)
    We got to see 3 houses on Sunday, happy with all 3 as got ideas from all of them. Looking forward to next year.

  2. says

    I’m so pleased to hear the day went well.

    All I can say is, be prepared for next year. If you had over 100 this year (and two dogs – don’t forget the doggies!), you can probably expect double that next year, when word gets around what a success it was!

    Everything is in blossom here too – so pretty :-) Don’t you just love spring?

    Well done – it’s so good to see your hard work paying off in teaching others how to transform their lives for the better.

    Leanne – over at (which used to be “Cluttercut”)

  3. Anonymous says

    Hi Gav
    great example to us all
    glad you had a great turn out
    There are more and more people turning to our way of life and loving it also The shine has gone off of the big city lights now and we are turning back to our grass roots
    I hope we can have more days like you have just experienced

    Love Mum

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin, I’m so glad the day went so well and that it was such a huge success. You did a great thing, opening your house to the public like that.

    We went to a place in Brisbane, and we were rather underwhelmed. The guy had a huge 4WD, a couple of dirtbikes and seemed more of a gadget guy than a green guy. He had installed what seemed like a zillion low voltage lights in his house and despite a 1.7kW solar set up, still had quarterly power bills of $250!!! What a way to get people interested in solar power – not! We live in a nearby suburb and without any solar power (although we do buy 100% renewable power), our bills are less than that.

    His garden was less than impressive and I honestly thought the visitors would have been better off visiting our house, even though we don’t generate our own solar power (yet).

    Anyway, we can’t all be as lucky as the people who visited your place!


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