Biochar for small farm productivity – with guest Dennis Enright

Is biochar the answer to restoring our productive soils as well as mitigating climate change?

Dennis Enright is an organic market gardener, and the owner of TopVeges, an organic market garden business based in Mosgiel, close to the city of Dunedin in New Zealand. In addition to organics, Dennis also has a passion for making biochar and using it as a natural soil amendment for vegetable growing and carbon sequestration. Biochar is charcoal made by the burning or pyrolysis of carbon rich materials at high temperature in the absence of oxygen.

Due to his interest in Biochar, in the last few years Dennis’s life has taken a very interesting twist! He now spends a portion of each year in remote areas of Thailand advising and assisting local farmers to create and use biochar instead of traditional slash and burn methods. His work is showing very promising results in terms of crop productivity, as well as wider environmental benefits. As part of his work, Dennis works with local organisations – Greennet and Warm Heart Worldwide.

This show was originally recorded on the 10th April 2017. I talk to Dennis about his work making and using biochar, and scientifically testing it as a soil amendment for small farmers in Thailand.

To listen to this programme about Biochar for Small Farm Productivity please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=cbbd6220-9ef4-467a-a1d3-2ccf6acfde12. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

This show was originally broadcast on the 27th April 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

For more information –

 

 

Dennis assesses soil quality on the test and control sites that have biochar added/not added. To the right of the photo is ‘Vermis the Worm’. Dennis plans to use him as a voice for talking about soil, particularly for kids. Vermis has travelled to various parts of Thailand and other places!

A pit is a simple and effective way to make biochar.

A Grassroots Protector of the Climate – with guest Rosemary Penwarden

When you go out walking do you find yourself picking up the litter of strangers? Do you sign petitions to change government policy? Do you go on rallys, or introduce recycling at work or school? Whatever environmental protection actions you take – if you are trying to change your bit of the world for the better – then you can call yourself a protector of the planet.

One person who firmly fits the label of planet protector is Rosemary Penwarden. Rosemary spent many years working as a medical laboratory scientist, is a proud grandmother (‘Rama’) and lives in Waitati north of Dunedin. In the last five years she has become actively passionate about the issue of climate change, and is involved in opposing fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand and particularly in Dunedin. She is part of Oil Free Otago and CANA (Coal Action Network Aotearoa).

On this show recorded on the 24th February 2017, I chat with Rosemary Penwarden about her personal journey to grassroots action, and what it is like to directly oppose big business corporations in the fossil fuel industry in New Zealand.

To listen to this programme about Protecting the Climate please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=a3b8ea7f-59ce-4b9a-8da6-621cd4d247f7. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 16th march 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Oil Free Otago spokesperson Rosemary Penwarden stands in front of their banner at the Dunedin Railway Station clock tower. The group wants the government to invest in clean energy projects instead of deep sea oil and gas drilling.

 

Oil Free Otago campaigners peacefully protest at a petroleum conference blockade, Sky City, Auckland. 2016

CANA (Coal Action Network Aotearoa) protest against Fonterra’s continued used of coal at their Clandeboye plant near Timaru – 2017. Photo taken by Shannon Gilmore.

Rosemary enjoys some family time with her grandson Arlo (2016)

Seniors for Climate Action Network – with Pat Scott and Donna Peacock

Many of the radio programmes I host are focused on the individual or personal things we can do to make a difference. Individual action is important for many reasons – its often fun, its satisfying and all those actions add up especially when others copy you and start doing it too. However when it comes to the big issues, like climate change, it is beneficial at many levels to find a group of like minded others where you can support each other. When we work together we can achieve so much more than when we work alone.

Seniors Climate Action Network, based here in Dunedin, is one such group that aims to raise awareness of climate change among senior citizens and to work towards a low carbon future.

On this show, I chat with Pat Scott and Donna Peacock, from Seniors Climate Action Network about their group. We also chat about their upcoming learning conference around climate change that they have organized for members of U3A. (U3A stands for University of a Third Age – an international organization, and its aims are the education and stimulation of retired members of the community — those in the “third age” of life).

To listen to this programme about Seniors Climate Action Network please click on http://new.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=0a630835-a78d-47fb-ba58-c894fef1c89c

For more information –

  • You can join Seniors Climate Action Network on their Facebook page
  • To get on the waiting list to join U3A here in Dunedin – TEL 03 453 4721 – http://u3adunedin.org.nz/

This programme was originally broadcast on  the  30th July 2015 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is hosted by Maureen Howard PhD, Sustainability Educator and Facilitator.

Donna Peacock, myself and Pat Scott (on right)

Donna Peacock, myself and Pat Scott (on right)

Mulching – with Sarah Fenwick

I love mulching. A good natural mulch will mimic the natural processes we see in nature – covering the bare earth as leaf litter does. Of courses there are many options out there for us to choose from – mulches do not have to be natural ie break down. To mulch is simply to cover the bare earth with a protective layer of material.

So what are the best mulches to apply, when should we apply them, and where can we get good sources here in Dunedin that are both good for our pocket and kind to the environment?

In this show I chat about MULCHES with Sarah Fenwick. Sarah works as a horticulturalist for the Dunedin City Council, helping to maintain the Dunedin Botanic Gardens as well as other gardens and reserves around the city.

To listen to this programme about Mulches please click on http://new.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=3eb7b7ea-9991-4945-aeb7-7704fb95a9a2

This programme was originally broadcast on  the  16th October 2014 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is supported by the Dunedin City Council.

Sarah Fenwick, Horticulturalist

Sarah Fenwick, Horticulturalist

Draught Horses – with Steve Pivac

The idea of working draught horses on the family farm conjures up a time when we had a slower pace of life and were more in tune with our natural environment. Its a vision that is becoming an increasing reality  – at least in the US – where more farmers are choosing to have horses to complement or even replace their tractor. In fact, according to Mother Earth magazine there are now over 100,000 farmers in North America who are using draught horses as part of their farming.

On this show I chat with Steve Pivac about the sustainability and resilience of using draught horses as an alternative to the fossil fueled tractor. Steve has a passion for draught horses and is a farm and forest contractor based in South Taranaki who uses horses as part of his work.

To listen to this podcast please contact Maureen on ecolivinginaction@gmail.com

Draught horses plowing the land

Draught horses plowing the land

Turning the hay

Turning the hay

Bringing in the bales

Bringing in the bales

Pulling timber

Pulling timber

 Steve's daughter demonstrates the wonderful nature of these horses

Steve’s daughter demonstrates the wonderful nature of these horses

Communicating Climate Change – with Colin Campbell-Hunt

How can we effectively communicate our concerns about climate change with our nearest and dearest, with our colleagues and friends – in ways that engage and inspire them to take action? Its an important challenge and one that each of us can tackle in our own way.

One person who is on a mission to talk about climate change is Professor Colin Campbell-Hunt, Head of the Department of Accountancy and Finance at the University of Otago. I spoke with Colin in November 2013. To listen to the podcast with Colin about COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE please contact Maureen on ecolivinginaction@gmail.com

Some of the founding members of OCCNet – the Otago Climate Change Network. Colin is on the left. From left to right - Colin Campbell-Hunt; Ceri Warnock; Ben Wooliscroft; Bob Lloyd; Debbie Hopkins; Chris Rosin

Colin is pictured on the left with some of the founding members of OCCNet – the Otago Climate Change Network.
From left to right – Colin Campbell-Hunt; Ceri Warnock; Ben Wooliscroft; Bob Lloyd; Debbie Hopkins; Chris Rosin