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Winter 2015 August 26 2015, 0 Comments

Please enjoy this welcome video from the 2015 Winter edition from our editor Alan Gray.

Winter 2015 from Alan Gray on Vimeo.

Nepal Earthquake Update May 26 2015, 0 Comments

To members and supporters of the Earth Garden Foundation Australia

The tragedy of the Nepal Earthquake has come as a shock to us all.  My family returned from Nepal ten days before the earthquake struck.
EGFA has been in contact with our partner organisations in Nepal: the Himalayan Light Foundation, who co-ordinate all our solar lighting projects; and TEAM Nepal who run the children’s home we support. 
Initially, it was impossible to get through to anyone in Nepal.  By Sunday night we had made contact with most of our friends, colleagues and partners. The good news is as follows.
Yadav Gurung, Manager of the Himalayan Light Foundation (see Yadav’s story in the autumn 2015 issue of EG) survived the earthquake.
On Sunday 26th, the day after the initial quake, when I finally made contact with Yadav by text, he replied as follows:  “Thank you so much. We are not alone, there are hundreds of other families living together under tent and trying to support each other with whatever resources we all have and praying for the safety and long life. I will try to be in touch with much possibilities."
He and his family are still camped in a tent in the street near their home.  As of Wednesday afternoon, 29 April, Yadav advised by text that there were still aftershocks taking place in Kathmandu and he was not prepared to move his family back into their home yet.   He says his challenge is to make sure he and his family can keep getting clean water and food.
On Monday 27th, after many attempts, I finally made contact with the Founder of TEAM Nepal, Neel Bahadur Shahi, one of the most remarkable people I have ever met.  Neel was very agitated but able to confirm that he and his family all survived the quakes, and also that all the children and staff at the children’s home in Talamarang village in Sindhupalchowk district (about 80 km north-east of Kathmandu) have also survived.  Neel hopes to travel to the home this week to assess the damage and report back to me on what help EGFA might be able to offer the home and surrounding village.  
The bad news is that Neel says 90%+ of the homes in Talamarang village have been flattened, and 20 to 25 village people have died in this one village.  The roof of the brand-new volunteer’s building at the children's home has subsided but Neel pointed out that this is a small matter compared to the loss of life in the village where he has funded and built the high school for 700 students.  Sindhupalchowk district is one of the 11 most-affected of the 75 districts in Nepal, as is Ramechaap - the district from which my family have just returned after installing solar lighting in a health post and monastery.
Remarkably, it is entirely due to the superhuman energy and foresight of Neel in creating a brand-new, purpose-built, quake-proof home, that the 20 children and staff were moved from a rickety old stone farmhouse on a steep hillside just three months ago, into the solid new home on a flat hilltop above the village.  I have no doubt there would have been loss of life if they had still been in the old rented home.
I spoke to Neel again on Tuesday 28th April.  He was much calmer.  He said that people in Kathmandu are all calmer because the aftershocks are decreasing in frequency from once every hour to once every four hours or so.  Like Yadav, he stated that the challenge in coming days will be for people in Kathmandu to maintain access to clean water and food.
On Sunday night 26th April I also spoke to Tashi Tenzing, a longtime Nepali friend and grandson of Tenzing Norgay. Tashi, his family, and trekking company staff - whom my family have depended on for many, many years when completing projects in Nepal - all survived.  Tashi and his family are camped out in their garden next to their home.  Unfortunately, three school children and a teacher have died in the village of Nuwarkot where Tashi and his family have built three schools and maintain a coffee farm to help local village people with employment to avoid sending their children off to work in other countries.
On Wednesday 29th April I finally got through to Pasang, our Mountain Guide, who has led our trekking teams on two solar projects into remote areas of Nepal.  My family returned from installing solar lighting in a health post and monastery just ten days before the quakes, and Pasang was our guide again.  Pasang and his family survived the quake but their home is "broken”, he told me.  Pasang and his family live in a one-room apartment on the ground floor of a multi-storey building in suburban Kathmandu.  They are now camped in a tent in nearby Army barracks grounds.  Pasang said they are all well and happy to be alive.
It is still too early to fully assess the full impact of the earthquakes.  As rescue teams reach remote villages the death toll will undoubtedly climb rapidly because, in a country with no building standards, it is the old, poorly-made buildings that have collapsed, killing people, whereas the newer buildings in city areas have mainly survived.  Pasang pointed out to me that it is not just the roads that are ruined - the bridges will mostly be destroyed too.  Many people in remote villages have had their food stores crushed under collapsed buildings.  Neel remarked that it was extremely fortunate that the quake struck around midday: most Nepalis were outside working at this time of day.  International aid teams are now piling into Nepal and the situation should rapidly improve in some areas accessible by helicopter.
Over the past seven years EGFA has installed solar lighting systems in health posts and schools in 36 villages throughout remote parts of Nepal ranging from Dullu and Dolpo in the far West to the Solukhumbu in the East.  It is too early to know how many of these systems and buildings have survived.  If they have survived, their importance is magnified now that the health posts will be working around the clock to treat sick and injured villagers.
In the days, weeks and months ahead EGFA will be slowly assessing the ways we can do our small part to help the remarkable Nepali people recover from yet another setback.  Poor Nepal.  They have nearly recovered from the disastrous ten year civil war started by the so-called Maoists.  This disaster will set them back many years - perhaps ten or even 20 years.  We will update members and supporters as soon as we know the best way to help.
In the meantime, if people wish to donate money to help people in Nepal, it seems to me that three choices stand out.
1.  The UNICEF Nepal Earthquake Appeal (they are very good and happened to have an international earthquake rescue/relief team meeting in Kathmandu a few days before the quake).
2.  Or Oxfam’s appeal - they are great too.
3. Our own little Foundation is not set up for disaster relief but soon we’ll be asking people to donate, or join EGFA to help rebuild the village where our orphanage is located; and/or help repair/reinstate any existing EGFA solar power systems or health posts damaged by the earthquake.  Joining or donating to EGFA will help Nepal because we have no admin fees - all money donated goes to Nepal. 

Welcome to Autumn March 01 2015, 0 Comments

Video Welcome

Welcome to the Autumn issue! The excitement of the autumn issue hitting the streets is matched by the excitement in the household of the EG editor over a new band of pure-bred chooks.

Autumn welcome to 'Earth Garden' from Alan Gray on Vimeo.

Click here to view the short video about an innovative housing solution featured in the new issue of Earth Garden from editor, Alan Gray. 

Agunya - Moving House from Alan Gray on Vimeo.

HERE NOW February 06 2015, 0 Comments

Fiona Tunnicliff, Earth Garden's Content Manager, takes a moment from production to appreciate said moment.

I recently had contact with a writer who calls herself a 'Momentologist' – what a great moniker to aspire to! You'll meet her in a future edition of Earth Garden.

My Mum often talks about her 'precious moments' and now in her 80th year; she's had a few. She reminds us all to appreciate the good times.

We all experience the big milestones, achievements and challenges and they stay etched in our minds. But what about all the wonderful LITTLE things that can happen in a day?

Some things are worth soaking up in the here and now.

I'm sure Earth Gardeners are adept at recognizing a precious moment when it springs from the soil ... why hello baby broccoli! Or, you just happen to look up seconds before the black cockatoo gracefully swoops over, you sensed it before you saw it – precious.

Being out and about in nature provides a multitude of moments to stash away in our hearts and minds. How lucky are we!

Publishing the Earth Garden journal is full of small moments to savour. Amazing stories landing in our laps and our designer pulling it all together into a visual feast. It's happening right here and now. Precious.


The Autumn edition of Earth Garden will be on sale 2 March.

Feed the Little Children September 04 2014, 3 Comments

Here's a taste of what Judith and Alan Gray are up to when they are not creating art or editing our magazine.

Feed The Little Children supplies regular, healthy meals to underprivileged Indigenous children around Broome.  

EG Editor Alan, turns documentary film maker.
Check out his inspirational film:

Feeding Kids. ABC Open from Alan Gray on Vimeo.

This is Clint's reaction to the blooper at the end!

Welcome to Spring 2014 September 01 2014, 0 Comments

Welcome to the spring issue! Click here to view the short video introduction to the spring issue of Earth Garden from editor, Alan Gray. 

Spring '14 EG editorial from Alan Gray on Vimeo.

ROLL ON SPRING! August 08 2014, 2 Comments

Fiona Tunnicliff, Earth Garden's Content Manager takes a breather from production to ponder the view from a two wheeled perspective.

As I type, the EG team is head down and bottoms up –no, we're not playing Twister –we're in the midst of production. Between you and me it is hard to keep ourselves from whooping and hollering every five minutes. Watching the Spring edition come together is a thrilling experience.

Exciting stuff this magazine publishing lark! Sometimes a wind down is needed. Lately my wind down time consists of trundling along on my new treasure –a beautiful bike.

There's something very 'Earth Garden' about hopping on a bike. What better low impact way to get around than good old-fashioned pedal power?  Winding along the local costal tracks is a joy and I can literally reach a hand out and touch nature as I whiz along!

There is a whole new perspective that goes with being on two wheels. I find myself eye to eye (well almost) with so many precious little birds or flowers and seed pods bursting from trees, that I might not have noticed if I was on foot.

I suspect Earth Gardeners appreciate these kind of fresh perspectives.  Like the one you get down on your knees, hands in the dirt, planting precious seedlings into rich organic soil. Or the view from your back door step at the food growing oasis that you have created.

It's the stuff we can't buy in shops that really matters the most isn't it? There are some exceptions of course.  My new Reid bicycle say . . . or a printed journal that has 'Earth Garden' written on it.

Winter 2014 June 13 2014, 0 Comments

Dear readers,

Welcome to the winter issue.  It’s been an exhilarating, creative journey for all of us at EG to bring you this issue and the previous one — both radical departures from Earth Garden’s traditional format. Radical departures can be challenging, annoying and unsettling — especially if you have fond memories of where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt when you read Earth Garden in its traditional format.  But many forms of tradition are simply ripe for reinvention.  I sometimes hear people say: “I live like this because that’s how traditional tribal societies lived.”  Fine.  

But many traditional tribal societies I’ve brushed up against had some awful traditions, like wife-beating, child brides, and zero respect for the lives of other animals.  I remember a classic passage from an all-time amazing Australian book called Sing For Me Countryman by the enigmatic musician, Neil Murray.  He was deeply embedded in the lives of Aboriginal people from the remote settlements of the Western Desert, like Papunya and Kintore, when he asked the older men if they yearned for the old days before European disruption.  

Unanimously, they declared that they had no wish to go back to that lifestyle for one simple reason: there was too much killing and payback in the old days.  They had lived in constant fear of reprisal parties, revenge killings, and warriors from neighbouring lands, like the fearsome Warlpiri, invading, stealing their women and wreaking havoc.  This shocked me, because I’d had a romantic notion that everything must have been better in the old days.  Of course, none of this justifies the unspeakably appalling treatment of Aboriginal people by European invaders that continues to this day.

If we hadn’t turfed out the tradition of relying without question on coal-fired electricity for our homes, none of us would be living in solar-powered houses, in the middle of the greatest energy revolution since James Watt developed the steam engine.  So changes to EG are part of keeping EG a creative project — thanks to the commitment and talent of Tony Fuery, Fiona Tunnicliff and Viv Hamilton.

Which reminds me of the creative projects my family’s been involved with recently — and how it relates to my food garden.  I am very lucky to be married to a very talented woman, Judith Gray.  If I listed Judith’s talents I would go well over my word limit, and this would set a bad example for all our other disciplined writers.  People often ask us why all our children are musicians and artists, and why they always seem contented with their lives and myriad projects.  Long ago I stopped claiming any credit for this. “All karma, no clue!” is what I usually say when people ask (wondering if we have some secret recipe).  Of course, like any family we have our share of dramas and challenges (Yee-hah! Ride ‘em cowboy!).  Maybe part of the answer relates to not having a television for nearly 25 years, but I think it’s more likely to be something Judith said to a friend recently after the usual question.

She said: “Out there in the world, you can do anything you want: deal with institutions, red tape, banks, governments, money.  But once you step into our home it’s about creative projects and spirituality.  I don’t care if my family is creating songs, paintings, garden beds, bamboo garden frames, magazines, or cakes, but I want this to be a creative world, not a bureaucratic one.”

Wow.  In all the years I’ve known Judith I’d never heard her say this.  It sounded so reasonable, and so . . . pre-meditated!  So now, when I go about my business creating garden beds or magazines, I do so in a more mindful way — a way that tries to see this creative process as part of this nourishing life.  

The photo on page 19 shows my Judith in April, a few days and frantic nights before the opening of her first solo art exhibition of encaustic paintings: ‘Dissolving Into Country’.  The opening was a very moving event, with Judith reading out her Artist Statement about some of the themes and meanings in her work.

Jean Paul Sartre once said: “Life has meaning - if you give it some.”  We say: “Give it some.” 

And I hope the stories in this issue can help you enjoy the creative meaning you choose to inject into your Earth Garden projects.

The Front Line May 09 2014, 0 Comments

Fiona Tunnicliff is our Content Manager and has been on the front line of 'Earth Garden' publishing for the past eight plus years.

The best thing about working for Earth Garden is the amazing stories that come my way. They are not just dry words on paper – the stories are alive! There is passion and conviction behind the stories and it never ceases to amaze me when the 'heart' shines through.

The worst thing is the amazing stories that come my way. We can't publish everything! If we did we would need to work around the clock to bring it out weekly. With enough coffee perhaps...

The other best thing about working for Earth Garden is the team of people who make it. A creative, compassionate and dedicated team – and I count my lucky stars to be part of it.

The most challenging thing about working for Earth Garden is the pressure of deadlines, but I must confess it is usually me putting the pressure on! I do try to crack my whip in the nicest way possible (no correspondence to be entered into).

My favourite EG columns? Well I love 'em all of course ... but I have to say that I never escape an issue without shedding a few tears over a Jackie French insight or cracking up at a Tanya Jenkyn one liner. Who knew herbs were such fun?

Right now we are in the throes of another EG production and it is a time of much excitement and careful focus. I confess that I won't get a good nights sleep until the wonderful Winter edition is all inked up, printed and the journal is in my hands. That is always a truly reverential moment. Then we get on with the next one!

An exciting new chapter March 03 2014, 0 Comments

Welcome to an exciting new chapter in the long book of Earth Garden. Today we launch our beautiful new website...

A New Leaf January 14 2014, 0 Comments

So what do you think of the New Look of our printed edition, dear reader?

It’s autumn. . .