warning: Creating default object from empty value in /usr/www/users/urbansyk/modules/taxonomy/ on line 33. online calculator launched (and reviewed)

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2011-01-27 14:19 calculatorI've been looking forward to the launch of's online calculator since I first heard that it was in the pipeline a few weeks ago.

Online calculators of the carbon variety have been around for quite a while and vary in their suitability to the SA energy scenario and ease of use. It seems like quite a tricky piece of software to nail down properly and I still think there is room for SA's carbon calculators to improve.

That said, the calculator is a bit different to a carbon calculator. It measures how much electricity you can save by calculating the energy expenditure of your old high-consumption lighting and

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terra madre - a celebration of slow food

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2010-12-08 09:34

Petrina Roberts gives an account of the conference in Turin:

As a result of our work in South Africa supporting local food gardens in Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and the Eastern Cape, I was invited to attend the recent Terra Madre Conference in Italy, funded by the Slow Food International Movement.

It was a life-changing event!

I arrived after a long flight having worked till 5am the morning of the 19th October to a wonderful welcome at the airport in Milan. Thereafter we travelled to the venue where the opening ceremony was taking place.

book review: going green - 365 ways to change our world

Submitted by MichaelE on Tue, 2010-11-30 13:16

going green by simon geargoing green by simon gearIts nearly Christmas and many of us are thinking about gifts to buy. Well one book that I can wholeheartedly recommend is Going Green - 365 Ways to Change our World. This book is filled with great ideas on how to make our planet a better place. The book is written by Simon Gear, known as one of South Africa's favorite weathermen.

review: 52 ways to grow creative children

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2010-11-25 19:41

This is a nifty little book that we were given a while back that is chock full of creative ideas for fun projects with your kids. Have a five year old that has raided your runner bean supports and delights in hurling the poles through the garden. Maybe he / she needs to have that creative energy "directed" in a more constructive manner...

Lisl Barry (and family) has produced a book that has some great ideas that will save your sanity on days where the little beauties need a "project". The book is also a reminder that some of the best things in life are free and that spending quality time with your kids is not about watching Shrek 2 for the tenth time. Rather the book encourages natural activities that can be enjoyed in your garden or kitchen and uses simple materials and tools to hand.

The book is divided into sections, one for each season, of ideas that are

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elgin open gardens - a gardener's bliss

Submitted by MichaelE on Mon, 2010-11-01 11:34

the auldearn garden in the elgin valleythe auldearn garden in the elgin valleyThis last weekend was the first weekend of the annual Elgin Open Gardens. The weather was stunning - perfect for a day out in the beautiful Elgin valley, which is known for its apples and beautiful gardens. The gardens are also open next weekend, the 6th and 7th of November. You pay a small fee ranging from R5 to R20 a person, which is donated to a different charity. This year there are over twenty open gardens that you can visit. It's best that you plan on leaving early and spend the day in the valley, so that you have time to explore some of the gardens. There are some absolutely stunning gardens that are sure to inspire you.

We stopped off and had a leisurely brunch at the Houwhoek Farm Stall, which serves delicious food and has great stall, at which we bought some wonderful dried apricots for the road.

harvest – recipes from an organic farm review

Submitted by MichaelE on Thu, 2010-09-30 09:15

Harvest: Recipes from an organic farmHarvest: Recipes from an organic farmThe Stevens' moved out of the city to get away from the rat race and who can blame them when they moved onto an idyllic farm and started an organic farm and vineyard. Christine's alchemical powers in the kitchen also spawned Harvest, a cook book.

The style that Stevens goes for is something akin to British food writer Tasmsin Day Lewis, a mix of family anecdotes mixed with recipes and a focus on home grown, local and seasonal produce. The pictures in the book are beautiful and capture the essence of life on the Stevens farm in the Slanghoek valley of the Western Cape. The farm has post card perfect views, and a wonderful situation, beautifully captured by photographer Russell Wasserfal along with fantastic pictures of the enticing dishes.

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grow to live review

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2010-08-26 10:47

Grow to Live: By Pat FeatherstoneGrow to Live: By Pat FeatherstoneGrow to Live: A simple guide to growing your own good, clean food is a book that every South African food gardener, whether novice or not, needs to have on their bookshelf. I've become quite a collector of gardening books and there are some really informative books out there. Some were written in the 80's and 90's, or earlier, when it was fashionable to nuke your vegetables with every herbicide, pesticide, fungicide and other -icide known. You were advised to routinely spray with the likes of Malathion, Karbaspray, Metasystox and other chemical weapons of mass destruction. And you had to know all about applying the right proportion of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) ala 2:3:2, 2:3:4, 3:2:1 or whatever. Well, following this advice would lead to a 5:4:3:2:1 explosion and the death of life in your garden.

So now you know what the book is not about, enter Grow to Live. This is a book that will make your heart soar as an organic gardener. The book distills the considerable knowledge

review: waste - uncovering the global food scandal

Submitted by MichaelE on Mon, 2010-08-02 20:33

waste: you are what you eat; but also what you wastewaste: you are what you eat; but also what you wasteThis is perhaps one of the most shocking books I have ever read. I know we live in an age that glorifies consumerism, but I had never really contemplated the waste that goes hand in hand with this mentality. Forget the fact that consumerism is the religion of the twenty first century, waste is our religion. One may wish that this was something out of science fiction, but its not.

Waste – Uncovering the Global Food Scandal is one of the most important environmental books anyone can ever read. It shows you the inherent flaws in our current system. The book delineates the ways in which every action we take when we buy food has a huge effect, on world wastage, poverty, economics, deforestation and climate change. This book is meticulously researched with 68 pages of bibliography full of facts and figures. Yet the book is gripping. This is not some boring academic tome. Stuart compels you to read, like some horrific industrial thriller, and suddenly it hits you – this is reality. This is an incredibly sobering book.

What have you eaten for breakfast today? Toast? Think about it. Where did that bread come from?

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flow: for love of water review

Submitted by Melanie on Mon, 2010-03-29 17:00

This thought provoking and lucid film was shown on the 22nd March 2010: World Water Day at the Two Oceans Aquarium. With sponsorship from Pick 'n Pay and support from GreenHouse. It explores the idea put forward by the UN: Clean Water for a Healthy Earth.

FLOW shows us how quickly we are running out of fresh water. 70% of fresh water is used in agriculture and another 20% in industry, yet it is the common person that bears the brunt of the water shortage. Thousands of people die yearly due to a lack of access to fresh water, yet the clean water is available to them. At a cost. Water is now a for profit industry and the 3rd World is being forced into allowing private industry to gain control of their water.

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a book review of cormac mccarthy's the road

Submitted by MichaelE on Wed, 2010-03-24 07:10

The roadThe road

Some of you may have recently caught The Road on the big screen here in South Africa, sadly I missed it and may have to wait for the DVD. In the meantime, however I have read the book. I always find that books can be so much more revealing, as there are details that cannot be translated on to the big screen due to time constraints.

The Road, is a post apocalyptic story that shows McCarthy's skills as a writer. In 2007, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Imagine a world where life is dying, ash rains down and the world is freezing. There is little or no food and warmth. This is the world that McCarthy conjures up. However, the subtext is that this is not too far from being a reality.

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