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Farewell Miles - and thank you

Thank you Miles - and farewell!

Creek Bridge Repair

The bridge across the creek to Pod E has been repaired!

Thanks to Ilan, Andy and Alan for all your hard work on this!

Access is now improved for pedestrians, mowers and the tractor to be able to cross the creek in safety.

Below are some "before" pictures of the bridge which were taken in 2017 and the "after" photos of the finished result in 2021.

Bridge to Pod E in 2017Bridge to Pod E in 2017

Bridge from Pod E in 2017Bridge from Pod E in 2017

Bridge to Pod E in 2021Bridge to Pod E in 2021

Bridge from Pod E in 2021Bridge from Pod E in 2021

BEETS for ALL Fundraiser

BEETS for ALL is launched!

So, 2020 is almost over and what a year it was.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic Fat Beets continued to provide vegetables and organic wholefoods to people across the peninsula as volunteers worked overtime to pick, pack and deliver to our customers’ homes.

Fat Beets in Tasman Gazette 1

Fat Beets in Tasman Gazette 2

Surprisingly, a new initiative was born out of the pandemic. In response to the hardship experienced by many, a generous customer funded Fat Beets to supply several single parent families who are experiencing hardship with free weekly veggie boxes. This marked the beginning of the Beets for All Initiative, as Fat Beets realised that everyone deserves access to fresh, delicious produce.

A ‘Beets for All’ Christmas Appeal is now on its way to match the initial generous donation. Check out our campaign and please share it far and wide!

Thanks you so much for everyone who donated already!

Donate Now!

Composting Waste Paper and Cardboard

Hi to all eco-friendly people.

Most probably we are all keen to do our bit in the restoration of soil health. The sustainable growing of food depends on it. Within our eco village we have some resources which can work towards that objective. Projects such as described below can help to build our sense of achievement and hope for the future.

We have very large amounts of waste paper and card-board which would ultimately end up in land fill if it is not recycled into new cardboard.

Old chicken manure and tree mulch are delivered to us, for a relatively low cost.

We have a couple of dams which, at certain times of the year, can provide us with Azolla and duckweed (Lemna minor) for harvesting.

Paper, card-board, chicken manure, tree mulch and Azolla can be combined, then composted, to provide an organic “sump” in the ground for retaining water and enriching the soil.

Initial experimentation has gone on here for a couple of years, and seems to be working well. I have now started another small above-ground system for continuing trials. Below is an explanation of the process with several pictures to help you understand it. Please ask any questions you have and I will try to answer them as best I can. There is still lots to learn and maybe there are others who wish to get involved in the research – an Eco-Community effort.

Let's get started!

One of the main advantages of composting this type of material is that, if there is contamination with food, drink or grease, this does not interfere with but improves organic breakdown in the compost process.

Mixed waste paper and cardboard from egg cartons, cereal packets, toilet roll tubes, etc., plus paper bags, newspaper, paper towels, serviettes, wrappers (as long as they really are paper, not plastic).

Plastic bags shoved into cartons, plus as much plastic tape as possible, must be removed before composting.

All the paper and card-board must be torn up into approximately hand-sized pieces. Larger pieces will prevent air and water from freely distributing throughout the pile.

Inks, including the colours, are no problem. A good bio-diverse compost will cope easily with those, breaking them down chemically and combining them into the biomass. Worms love it!

A good soaking with water is added to the paper at this stage.

Azolla was harvested from the main dam on the left as you drive up from the Main Gate.

Azolla filiculoides, as you see here is an aquatic fern, with the amazing ability to “fix” nitrogen from the air. Nutrients washed down into the dam are removed by the Azolla, to be used as fertiliser, chook feed supplement, and as an aid in composting.

Earlier in the year, a considerable quantity of bull rush was removed from the dam and mulched.

As the season progressed, Azolla has spread and produced a very thick matt, allowing easy harvesting at this time of year.

When Azolla is allowed to grow like this, it is able to release spores that will provide the subsequent crop next season.

The pile is built up “lasagne-style.” First, on the bottom, a layer of the torn paper/cardboard. Then wetted. (It's important that the paper and cardboard have sufficient moisture added at this stage.) Without water there can be very slow biological activity, thus slow to compost.

Next, a thick layer of Azolla, to cover right over the heap. Then a light sprinkling of old chicken manure, followed by tree mulch.

Azolla has a relatively high content of nitrogen, plus other nutrients, essential for good composting.

Chicken manure contains extra phosphates, plus lots of micro-organisms.

Now I wish to add to the heap the sort of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.) that normally decompose the products of trees. Since paper and cardboard are derived mostly from trees, my reasoning is that they will also go to work for us on paper and cardboard.

So, I get a few barrow-loads of tree mulch and use that as the next “lasagne” layer.

The heavy rains we have had during the past few weeks (as of 27th August) will wet the heap and help to speed up the composting process.

Ready for next lasagne-style layer.

Who knows how long this will take to properly compost. We will have a look after 3, 6, 9 months.

Parsons Bay Lodge and Tasman Demonstration Project Report – June 2020

The following report is provided on behalf of Parsons Bay Lodge and the Tasman Demonstration Project (the Hillside).


  • In the past 6 weeks or so, PBL had the pleasure of hosting 4 Wwoofers/helpers, Nikki from the UK, Steve from Canada, Sahar from Israel and Andrew from Melbourne. All are ‘stuck’ in Tasmania due to Covid-19. They have made an enormous contribution to the appearance of both the Village and the Hillside with their energy and skills. Thank you!
  • PBL has re-registered with HelpX, Workaway and Wwoof to host more workers.

Village Common ground tidy up:

  • 4 steel trusses and 2 sea containers were on the common ground for many years. The original proposal was to convert these into a Village workshop space with a roof in between. Recently TEVA requested PBL to relocate these containers and other items away from the common ground. A planning permit exemption was obtained from Tasman Council to place the containers on the Hillside and build a roof in between them to create a workshop and storage space. The sea containers are now in place and the construction work is progressing well.
  • A dangerous tree next to Unit 8 has been removed. A good quantity of fire wood was cut into logs and the tree limbs cleaned up promptly and efficiently, thanks to Ian Kingston, Benjamin Dean and 3 PBL Wwoofers. The job went very smoothly at no cost to the B/C.
  • The tree offcuts and small limbs were delivered to the Village central common ground and provided an abundance of material for Mark and Miles to make biochar.
  • A large tree stump on common ground near Rob and Catherine’s house (lot 110) was dug out with an excavator then relocated with a crane to the Hillside, at no cost to the B/C. See photos attached.
  • Other smaller tree stumps in Pod A that were proud of the ground and were a tripping hazard were lifted out and removed as well.
  • All the tree foliage, weeds, tree stumps and old fence palings were burned last Sunday in a large pile on the Winter Solstice day. See photos attached.
  • The Hillside old Massey Ferguson tractor has been repaired. Some slashing and general tiding up took place in Pods B, C and D.
  • The Hillside Project obtained a Council permit to build 2 poly-tunnels on the south west side of the Hillside property for food growing and seed propagation. Work has started with an area of 250 square meters being prepared, posts going in the ground and iron hoops recycled to make 2 tunnels. See photo attached.
  • AK Consultants were engaged and came up with a design for a large dam in the south eastern gully of the Hillside, this dam could have a catchment capacity of 4 to 5 mega-litres and could offer long term water security to the Village. Please see the attached file Dam Map.
  • Power to Pod B has now been installed. On Friday 19 th June power for an additional 7 potential house lots was installed, allowing Jack and Hannah’s new construction to be connected to power when they finish building. Storm water pipes went in the same trench for the collection of rain water overflows from the future roofs in the Pod. This power installation now completes 5 out of the 6 distribution switchboards in the main village connecting 32 out of the 40 lots in Pods A, B, C, and D.

Wicking Bed Guide

We're delighted to have Tony Buckle visiting and helping us at the Village. Tony has been here for the last few weeks and has brought his skills in creating a ‘Wicking Garden Bed’. It’s an ideal workaround for our sandy soils. Here’s what Tony has to say - with detailed instructions on how to make a Wicking Bed if you’re interested in creating one yourself...

Sandy Soil Sucks!

Written by Tony Buckle Feb 2018

Sandy soil really does suck! I spent eight years in Mordialloc, Melbourne trying to improve beach sand until I decided I needed another solution.

Do you have to water morning and night each summer day just to keep your plants alive? Are you a slave to your garden? Do you go away for a week or long weekends and have to rely on friend to water to your plants satisfaction? Do you have hydrophobic soil where water beads and actively runs away from your plants? Do you continuously feed your plants with compost, manure, seaweed solution, worm wee and blood & bone, only to wash it away with each watering?

Well, let me introduce you to The Wicking Bed System... Wicking beds (if you don’t know already) are a self-contained, water wise, nutrient wise, time saving system that will give you back the time and money to spend on yourself, your family and friends.

So what is a wicking bed and how do we make one?

The great thing about this system is that it is completely scalable. It can be applied to pot plants, raised garden beds and straight into the ground. I have done single pots of eggplants/tomatoes, raised garden beds and 10m x 5m (x2 beds) in ground/tiered and the basic principles remain the same.

When I first researched water wise gardening solutions, I was blown away by how much contradictory information there was. So I decide to grab the common principles and adapt them for my conditions and over the years have developed a robust system. I will never look back at that hydrophobic sand again.

The basic premise is that you provide your garden bed with a cool reservoir of water which “wicks” its’ way up to you plant roots through capillary action through the soil. This helps to minimise loses through evaporation (assuming a suitable layer of mulch is applied).

Not only will your plants appreciate the constant, cool, moist soil condition but they will be healthier for it and help them cope with the extremes of the weather. You can also plant out more densely as they are not fighting for the same resources. Yields are higher and you don’t waste water, nutrients, time or money.

Existing Raised Veggie Patch Wicking Conversion

Existing Wicking Bed

The photo is a classic example of a neglected veggie patch due to inconvenient access to water.

Dig Out Wicking Bed

Step 1: Dig out bed to a depth of 650mm from the top lip of the bed (200mm for reservoir; 200mm wet zone; 200mm root zone; 50mm mulch zone.

Improve Soil  WITH Manure and Compost

Step 2: Improve soil with chicken manure and compost.

Source Sand and Scoria or Similar for the Reservoir Zone

Step 3: Source sand & scoria/limestone or other porous stone/rock for the reservoir zone with sufficient volume to fill to 200mm.

Place Cardboard, PVS Pipe and Ag-Pipe at the bottom of the Wicking Bed

Cover Ag-pipe with Geotech Fabric or Newspaper to Prevent Clogging and Cover with

Step 4: Source cardboard, PVC down pipe with 90 degree elbow and a length of Agi-pipe sufficient to distribute water around the base.

Step 5: Ensure the base and sides are free from sharp stones/roots etc. and place cardboard or old carpet around the base and cover with 30mm of sieved sand. Fill with water to the same depth to aid levelling and check for leaks.

Step 6: Position PVC downpipe, elbow, cap and Agi-pipe.

Step 7: Cover Agi-pipe with geotech fabric or newspaper to prevent clogging and cover with scoria/limestone to 200mm thick.

Step 8: Cover scoria base with geotech fabric.

Backfill Bed with Improved Soil and Top Dress with Compost.

Step 9: Drill a hole 250mm from the top lip of the bed for the overflow pipe.

Step 10: At the same depth lay a length of Agi-pipe wrapped in Geotech material across the length of the bed and connect with the overflow pipe.

Step 11: Backfill bed with improved soil and top dress with compost.

Step 12: Fill bed with water through down pipe until it runs out of the overflow pipe. Water from the top to ensure the root zone is also saturated. Capture overflow water and pour back into the bed.

Step 13: Plant out and cover with mulch to a depth of 50mm, cover with bird netting and enjoy your new water-wise organic growing.

Step 14: (Optional) Make a float (water level indicator) and place inside the inlet pipe.

Coffee & Cake @ Kelp & Co

A much appreciated and delicious add-on to the Fat Beets weekly pick ups has recently been established by Tasman Ecovillage's very own human dynamo, Deb Mill.

Realising that people are dropping in to collect their food orders on Saturday mornings - and are also very keen to enjoy a cuppa at that time of the day - Deb set up 'Coffee & Cake' to coincide with the pick ups. Serving delicious home made treats, great coffee and organic teas, Deb's micro business is open from 10am to 12noon on Saturday mornings. If you're quick, you'll get to try some of Sarah's amazing raw food creations!

Coffee and Cake

New Homes All Round...

Planning and building has recently taken off at the Village. Several new homes are now ready for occupation: Sarah and Neil's 3-bedroom house was constructed off site, relocated a few months ago and already has a beautiful garden growing around it - Sarah has a very green thumb!. Deb's home is progressing well, thanks to Pete Deegan's input, and Alan's tiny house is now ready for the final touches :-)

Lot 108

Peter Thompson is happily settled in his apartment (for the summer, at least!) and is now passing on his land block and approved straw bale house plans to a lucky new owner - please let him know if you know of anyone who may be interested: 0458 037 785 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lot 106

Miles Durand's little one-bedroom cottage is also available for purchase. It has a beautiful view to the ocean and the surrounding gardens have grown considerably since the photo below was taken! For more info please contact Miles on 0474 559 791, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lot 109 Cottage

Fat Beets Food Hub First Customers for the Summer Season!

Several very happy customers picked up their very first fresh veggie boxes and wholefood orders from our community kitchen this month! Hannah (with wee Otis snuggled in) and Jack from the Fat Beets crew were on hand to double check that all was in order.

After a successful trial run with ecovillage residents, Fat Beets Food Hub online store is now open to the broader Tasman community. Orders need to be in each Thursday by 8pm. Pick ups can be collected from Fat Beets new home in the old Southern storeroom at the ecovillage next to Unit 2. Look for the Beetroot-coloured door!!

Fat Beets Food Hub online store operates through the Open Food Network and is delightfully easy to navigate. It features fantastically fresh organic veggies grown lovingly onsite in the Village gardens, free range eggs from Fat Beets chickens and a selection of frequently used dry store wholefoods.

Fat Beets Launch