Monthly Archives: August 2010

August Newsletter

Transition Tavistock Update – August 2010

Welcome to Transition Tavistock’s latest newsletter

(1) Information Stalls
(2) Energy Group update
(3) Food Group Update
(4) Edutainment Group kicks off with 10:10:10 on 10th October 2010
(5) Grow Tavi
(6) Affordable organic potatoes! Let’s get together and grow!
(7) How to save Tomato Seeds
(8) Eco Teams
(9) Solar PV successfully installed – more details available
(10) Green Drinks
(11) The Big Lunch
(12) Waste services are changing
(13) Transition Tavistock needs volunteer support!
(14) Transition news from around the World
(15) Coming Events
(16) Links of the Month
1. Information Stalls
The next information stall will be at the Tavistock Community Day, Bedford Square, on September 4th (10:00 till 16:00). We’re also looking for volunteers to help staff the stall. If you’d like to lend a hand please email or call Sarah Berry.
There will also be a stall at our 10:10 event on the 10th October 2010 (see below).

If you have a meeting or event and would like to have us present or provide information please get in touch.

2. Energy Group Update
The last Energy Group session took place at Gulworthy Parish Church where we learnt about their wood pellet boiler. It was very interesting to hear about the journey to get it in place and how easy it seems to be to run! For more information see and

The Energy Group next meets on Wednesday 22nd September in the evening (19:30).
If you’re interested in joining us please get in touch with Kate Royston on 07969-569-444 or email
Our current projects include EcoTeams, identifying and publicising Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy good practice. We’re also working to improve our own energy sustainability and sharing experiences within the group.

3. Food Group Update
Ongoing projects include providing food planting in Tavistock town centre and identification of communal land for food production. Meetings are always a forum for passing on surplus plants and produce; the next meeting date will be announced shortly! Contact or call Kate Royston on 07969-569-444 for more details.

4. Edutainment Group kicks off with 10:10:10 on 10th October 2010
The Edutainment Group will be kicking off a stimulating and entertaining programme of films, talks and events through the Autumn and Winter starting with our 10:10 event on Sunday 10th October 2010 – A ‘Global Day Of Doing’ – the biggest-ever day of positive action on climate change (
Join us at the United Reform Church hall in Tavistock between 14:00 and 18:00.
If you have any ideas or would like to help with the organisation please email or call Mark on 07886245336.

5. Grow Tavi

The next meeting of this community forum is on Tuesday 12th October from 2 to 4 pm at the Wharf. GrowTavi is a joint Westden and TaVi initiative to promote and discuss all aspects of local food growing including: Allotments, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Guerilla Gardening, Edible Landscapes, Peak Oil, Climate Change and much more… All welcome!

6. Affordable organic potatoes! Let’s get together and grow!
Last year a 25kg of organic potatoes cost about £17, there were equivalent sized bags of conventionally grown spuds for under a fiver! That is a big difference! The huge differential in price is partly due to the amount of work it takes to harvest the organic crop. It’s easy to pick potatoes by machine when the halmes, (the green tops), have been sprayed off leaving the ground clear for the harvester but devoid of any wild plant and insect life.

This coming year we might be in for a shock as wheat prices rise and the Pakistan ‘bread basket’ that has provided cheap rice for the world has been scoured out.
Would you like to do an experiment in CSA? This is an informal trial at making a go of Community Supported Agriculture using a humble organic potato crop as a starting point. A rough guide to how it would work could be:
• Collectively we buy the seed potatoes, we already have an offer of using land on an organically registered farm. We beg, borrow or steal potato planting equipment and bingo! Nature does the work of growing the crop and we all muck in to harvest.
• The crop is divided according to how much help/labour/ help with expenses each person has contributed.
If you are at all interested in growing your own field scale organic potatoes, let me know at and you never know your bag of locally grown organic spuds might cost you a bit more in effort, but less in cash, and each potato will glow with the Pride of the Personal Touch!

7. How to save Tomato Seeds
(as explained by Rob Meredith of Holsworthy Organics, who has a fruit and veg stall at Tavistock Market every Friday)

Scoop the centres out of several ripe tomatoes. Put these in a jam jar and leave for 2 or 3 days (no more) without the lid on. During this time a natural fungus from the air will break down to liquid the jelly-like substance around the seeds. Tip the whole lot into a sieve and wash well, swishing them round, under cold water – you will be left with just the seeds. Drain well and then spread thinly on a paper plate. Leave this in a warm, dry place. The seeds will dry out, sticking lightly to the plate. You can then scrape them off and store in an air-tight container, or simply leave them on the plate in a dry place, stacked several plates high if necessary, with the name of the tomato written on the plate. Tomato seeds prepared this way retain tiny hairs on the seeds – this distinguishes them from commercially prepared tomato seed. The hairs from the latter have been stripped off by the chemical used, instead of the fungal process, to remove the jelly from round the seeds.
This method can also be used for cucumber and squash seeds, though with these you can go straight to the washing in the sieve stage.

Communities take action to save plants – recent article in The Guardian:

8. EcoTeams
Transition Tavistock’s first EcoTeam(s) are going to celebrate their kick off at our 10:10 event on 10th October 2010 (see below).
Would you like to be involved?
Are you interested in working together with other families and friends to reduce your waste, energy, and water and food bills? The EcoTeam’s initiative organised by Global Action Plan, and supported by Transition Tavistock, provides free online tools and resources and shows you how to measure and reduce your environmental footprint together with others. On average households participating in EcoTeams achieve annual savings of £170. To find out more see

If you’re interested in being part of an EcoTeam, please get in touch with Mike Dennis.

Preparing for Eco Teams
Before we can compare usage and learn lessons from one another, it’s necessary to measure what each home is actually using in the way of utilities, is disposing of in the way of refuse, using fuel for car mileage etc.
Over the last 6 weeks, I’ve read the electricity and water meters weekly (our gas is only required in the winter for central heating) and also measured what I’ve been throwing away.
The following results are the average weekly usage over a six week period for our household of 2adults.

Electricity 27.91kw Water 0.60 cu meters

Paper 1lb 12ozs
Cardboard 2lb 12ozs
Glass 1lb 8ozs Tin 9ozs
Plastics 13ozs

General Refuse 1lb 12ozs

How this compares with others and what more we can do to reduce consumption will require comparison with others and the sharing of experiences. If you would like to join an Eco Team and explore how you can reduce your consumption and suggest how I and others can do better, do contact Mike or Kate.

PS: It’s interesting to note the comparison between what is currently being recycled and what goes in the general rubbish. The above figures of general refuse being 20% of my waste provide prima facie evidence for the West Devon Council’s decision to reduce general refuse collections and focus on recycling collections.
Mike Dennis

Small ways to reduce electricity consumption
Do we always need to plug into the mains supply for our electricity or buy non-rechargeable batteries?
• Looking around our home, I note a wind up torch. This is the sort used by some electricity meter readers and gives a good light.
• There is a solar powered radio. Works OK in the sunlight but does need a battery back-up for when the weather turns cloudy or not in direct sunlight.
However, batteries can be rechargeable and these can be recharged in my solar powered charger which I leave on the window sill to recharge the previous set of rechargeable batteries. These batteries can be acquired for £1 for 2 if you shop around.
Outside the front door is a solar powered light which comes on with movement after dusk. This is sufficient to identify visitors and allow us to see to put the key in the lock when returning home after dark. This replaced a defunct external mains powered security light.

All of the above are relatively inexpensive and could be useful suggestions for others to give you for Christmas presents if you don’t have them already.

Don’t forget that if you’re driving, you can recharge your mobile phone from the car battery while in motion rather than plug it into the mains. Also, there’s no need to use the tumble drier when the sun is shining – the original solar power method of drying!

Can you suggest other ideas? If so, please let us know and we can include them in future newsletter ideas.
Mike Dennis

9. Solar PV system successfully installed – more details available
Mike and Jenny Dennis, both members of the TT Energy Group, have had photovoltaic panels installed during the first week in July 2010. With an array of 18 x 215w panels Mike and Jenny have the capacity to generate 3.87KW. Before and after photos can be seen below!
They are going to maintain records of the amount of energy generated, how much has been exported to the grid and savings in other fuel use to calculate the overall benefits gained. These can be shared once there is sufficient data to make meaningful comparisons!

Background facts on the Installation of the Photo voltaic panels

The roof faces 160 degrees with a pitch of around 50 degrees.
The roof space is 55m2 on an 11m length and 4.95 length from ridge to eaves.
The system specification:
• 18 Kyocera 215W solar PV modules (3.87KW)
• Mounted with stainless steel roof hooks to aluminium solar rail
• Cables hidden under facia board
• Steca 4KW grid tie inverter
The inverter, FIT (Feed In Tariff) total generation meter and the import/export meter are installed in the garage.
Capital cost approximates to just over £4000 per KW

Projected annual output based upon the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure 2005 is 3096 KWH per annum. Because Devon and Cornwall receive appreciably more solar radiation than the national average, most installations in the South of the UK generate around 900 KWh per KW of installed capacity annually rather than the 800 KWH as specified in the SAP 2005. However, the performance of solar PV systems is impossible to predict with certainty due to the variability in the amount of solar radiation (sunlight) from location to location and from year to year.

The FIT tariff commenced on 1st April 2010 and pays 41.3 for every unit generated. This is fixed for 25 years but for installations in later years the rate will be lower. There is an additional small sum for each unit exported to the grid and we also benefit from a reduction in our electricity bill as we use the renewable energy generated. We also expect a reduction in our gas bill as we will be using electricity to power our immersion heater instead of gas.

Based upon the national averages, the projected annual income was suggested as £1450 per annum. This would give a payback period of approximately 10.8 years. However, I hope that I will be able to achieve this within a shorter time period. Details on estimated progress towards meeting this target can be provided in a future update when more data has been collected.

Reading through this do you have any further questions or would you like to know more? Let us know (contact Mike on 01822 618142 or Kate)

Do you have an idea or a scheme yourself for saving energy, waste, water etc., or a renewable energy or sustainable building project that you’d like to share? If so we’d love to hear about it and if you’re agreeable share it with others.

10. Green Drinks
September’s Green Drinks is on Tuesday 14th September between 19.30 and 21.30 at the Market Inn, Tavistock (PL19 9BB). Come along if you’d like to chat and share views with other like minded folk concerned for our environment and sustainability.
This is a global movement, and in Tavistock it happens on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

11. The Big Lunch – Meet the Neighbours!
The weather was much kinder this year for The Big Lunch which took place on Sunday 18th July (

“Bannawell Street Park’s Big Lunch 2010 – Homemade or Fairtrade” was well attended and fun was had by all.

Residents and Friends met up in the woods for the Devon Consols Big Lunch! We had plenty to eat and a relaxed time to catch up, chat and meet new friends. We’re looking forward to next year!

12. Waste services are changing
West Devon Borough Council’s New Waste Collection Service: Living in West Devon you’ll soon be able to put plastic bottles in your green box.
A number of roadshows are being held across the Borough during August, September and October; and the WDBC provides detailed information about the changes (
“The new service will allow you to recycle more materials which you have specifically asked for including plastic bottles, batteries, garden, and food waste. All residents will receive a leaflet through the post detailing the changes in late Summer. If you have any queries in the meantime please contact” West Devon Borough Council.
A Roadshow programme can be found on

13. Transition Tavistock needs volunteer support
Do you feel passionate about your local community and improving its resilience for the future? Would you like to help promote local food, more sustainable energy services or just learn and share with others? Do you have some spare time to work with us? Perhaps join the Committee, Energy, Food or Edutainment group, or help us with our communication! Do get in touch with Sarah or email

14. Transition News from around the Network
For Transition News from around the network check out

15. Coming Events
Transition Tavistock’s 10:10:10 celebration on 10th October 2010 – and launch of our new season of Edutainment. Join us at Join us at the United Reform Church hall in Tavistock between 14:00 and 18:00. We’ll be taking part in ‘A ‘Global Day Of Doing’ – the biggest-ever day of positive action on climate change (
If you have any ideas or would like to help with the organisation please email or call Mark on 07886245336.

Totnes Energy Fair on Saturday 18th September, Totnes Town Hall 10:00 until 16:00 will include an exhibition for installers and suppliers of energy efficiency and renewable energy products.

Car Free Sunday – 19th September and European Car Free Day – Weds Sept 22nd 2010 –

16. Links of the Month
• Oiligarchy – The game! Available on the Dark Optimism site, interesting in itself, Oiligrachy is “free, easy, doesn’t take long to play through and it might just raise a smile or two!”
• Christian Ecology Link’s What’s On provides a wealth of events taking place across the UK:
• Summer Living Ideas from the Eden Project Shop –
Tel: 01822-618715
c/o Westden
20 Plymouth Road
PL19 8AY