Monthly Archives: September 2011

September Supplement

There was so much to say, we couldn’t fit it all into our September newsletter – so welcome to Transition Tavistock’s September Supplement!

Transition Tavistock FOOD AND ENERGY GROUP:  Mini-Workshop meeting Sat 24th September at 15:00

We’ll be meeting at The Friends Meeting House, Canal Road by Bedford car park (PL19 8AR) on Saturday 24th September at 15:00.

Peter Smith will be sharing lessons and stories from a Transition Chelmsford conference he is attending earlier in the week.

Two other important topics will be:

2011 Transition Tavistock Christmas tree. Our entry details need to be firmed up by 30th September. Focus is likely to be on decorations made from recycled materials. Bring along some materials and ideas and we can have a go. It’s also been proposed that we ‘throw open the doors’ and hold a workshop in early November for anyone interested to come along and see how we made our decorations last year and  to make our decorations for this year as a community effort. The tree will also have pedal power.

TT Community Stories. Collecting together our initial stories for the Renewables and energy saving experiences … and ‘Out of Own My Back Yard (OOOBY)’ Experiences. We will be discussing a few of these, seeing what questions arise and what extra information might be useful, and publishing them. The draft is on the website. We will be using these to build a Renewables and Energy saving Trail … ala OpenGardens … and discuss whether this would also be useful for OOOBY.

The Garden Share scheme proved to be one of the most talked about topics at the Community Day. We will have a short discussion on this. There is also great interest in mini-hydro power generation and harnessing heat through water. We’d like to hear from anyone interested, or having expertise in these areas.

If you can’t make it but have ideas to share please let me know, or if you’d like to have a chat please get in touch: Kate Royston.

Talk: Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq

Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, is coming to speak in the Rundle Room in TavistockTown Hall on Tuesday October 4th at 7.30pm. He is an excellent and well informed speaker. The title of his talk will be: ‘Oil and War in Iraq and Libya: A Secret History’. PLEASE COME AND BRING AS MANY FRIENDS AS YOU CAN. There is disabled access.  See attached flyer

Situations Vacant – Transition Tavistock looking for young people and students

We’d love to hear from any of you from the ‘younger generation’ who would like to join us and help us develop our social media skills in relation to involving  young people … and at the same time have an opportunity to contribute and develop your own skills and cv.   Please get in touch with Kate Royston or Chris Simpson at

Come and join the open meetings for the TaVi Network

The newly formed TaVi Network community organisation will be holding 2 meetings on 17 and 20 October – see attached flyer

Community Litter Clearing

For all those interested this event will be taking place on Oct 1st at 10 am in the environs of Tavistock Community Primary School: meet at 10 am; equipment will be provided.  Further details from Jane Miller or 01822 XXXXXX

WHAT’S YOUR PASSION?: Autumn into Spring Sessions

We need a programme for the Autumn into Spring Sessions. A mix of inspiring speakers, films, debate! So over to you … WHAT’S YOUR PASSION? Something you’re passionate about you’d like to share? We can help you put an event together. Or just let us know what you’d like to come and see!

Suggestions so far include:

•             How to live well using less energy!

•             Practical information on growing your own

•             Permaculture … and food security

•             Lessons to be learnt from other Transition groups in the South West

•             Transport

•             Tavistock campaign to eliminate plastic bags

Please let us know.

Tavistock Community Notice board

Would you like to have a notice board in the centre of town where you can see what’s going on, add messages if you have something to buy, sell, give away, if you’d like advice … etc ?

What sort of things would you like to know about?

What sort of things would you like to share with others?

Please let us know.

Transition Stories: Sharing ‘Knowhow’

We’re finding exchanging good ideas and experiences is a great way for us to learn and grow more confident. We’ve decided to start collecting them together. If you’d like to share your experiences of renewable energy, energy saving schemes, saving water and other resources, growing things and making things from ‘our own back yard’ … let us know!

You can put your story in our newsletter, on the website and in our growing storybook

… and we’ll be developing ‘Open House’ type events so you can show others how you did it!

Up and Coming Events

Devon Car Free Day

22nd September

September Food and Energy Group Workshop Meeting

Venue: The Wharf on Saturday 24th September, 15:00

Community Litter Clearing

Oct 1st at 10 am in the environs of TavistockCommunityPrimary School

Talk: Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq

Venue: Rundle Room in TavistockTown Hall on Tuesday October 4th at 19.30pm

October Green Drinks

Venue: Market Inn, Tavistock on Tuesday, 11th October: 19:30-21:30

And every 2nd Tuesday of the month

TaVi Network Open Meetings

October 17th and 20th

Christmas Tree decoration workshop

Join us making beautiful decorations from natural & recycled materials on a ‘shoestring’!

November 2011 – further details to be announced

Autumn into Spring Sessions

To be announced

Renewables and energy saving ‘Open house’

Come and visit examples of renewable energy and energy saving schemes in the local area

Further details to be announced

Spring ‘Open Space’ workshop

Come and share your vision on the future shape of Tavistock in 2030 and beyond!

April 2012 – further details to be announced – let us know if you’d like to help organise this!

September Newsletter

Welcome to the September edition of Transition Tavistock’s Newsletter – and hope to see you at Green Drinks this Tuesday 13th!

We were warmly received by all at the Tavistock Community Day where we hosted a joint stand with TaVi Network and the Senior Council for Devon. Collaborating in this way meant that the work was shared and the end result was more than its component parts. Working together was by way of piloting a closer relationship with other organisations with similar aims and objectives as Transition Tavistock and it went very well. We will be looking at partnering up again for future events where we can share the work to remove duplication, increase efficiency and promote cohesion.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember what you can recycle via the kerbside collection, particularly when it comes to different types of plastic.  Kate Arabian from Devon County Council has provided this handy clarification:

Plastic items tend to be bulky, lightweight and made from a variety of different types so it is often a very difficult and costly item to collect from householders.  The reason we are now able to collect plastic bottles is that we have renewed our waste contract and procured new vehicles that will have the capacity to take these bottles.  Also, there is a market for recyclable products made from this kind of plastic, unfortunately the other types of plastic are not so equitable by the time we collect, process and transport.

You can take other plastics to Crowndale Recycling Centre in Tavistock.  Here is a link to a webpage where you can find a list of recyclables Devon County Council take at their Recycling Centres

Our contractor, Focsa Services Ltd, offer a recycling kerbside sorting collection service where the crews are instructed to collect and sort into the vehicle at the kerbside.  In order to assist the crew you can carry on sorting your own recyclables.

Last week a cousin of mine sent me a leaflet with the dramatic headline “Wake Up! – UK!” and the strap line “to safeguard your Human Rights, Health Choice, Natural Foods, Cultural Heritage & the Environment.” It was a call for signatures against the EU ban of thousands of natural foods, herbs, products & supplements. The deadline passed way back in April but the campaign lives on as “The Nation Speaks – Not in My  Name”..

Visiting their website here – it explains all. Not exactly part of Transition but to quote their own text – “It aims to encourage everyone back to a more natural way of life, and to also take responsibility for their own health.” which appears on this site You soon realise that it is sponsored by Gramma’s, a natural health food manufacturer, but the aims are sound.

A few days ago our regular newsletter from Survival Joe included a link to this 3 minute film.  This is Transition taking place in Wisconsin USA. If only we had their sun. The use of compost top heat the greenhouse is a little confusing. They claim it is also their wormery but if it got that hot it would kill the worms. It appears to heat the polytunnel by being piled up against the steel wall below the polythene. It may be that the worms stay on the cooler surface .. but heavy rainfall might stop the composting unless it’s all covered.   Any ideas on this?

The only compost that gets hot enough to have any useful heat is that from horses. Because their digestion is not very efficient, they pass out a lot of undigested grass that will still compost very well and creates loads of heat. Those that have visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan may remember that the Pineapple House was heated this way. When those gardens were built horse manure was the only waste product from the most common and truly carbon neutral transport.

Does anyone recognise the crop growing in trays that is being loaded into the van? Could it be barley grass?      (Adrian)

Are you a keen gardener but with nowhere to grow your food? Have you got a large garden that you would like to share with someone else? If you have answered “yes” to either of these questions then perhaps our GardenShare project would be right for you? The idea is for like-minded people to come together to build social connections by sharing a garden, growing some veg and splitting the produce. Each GardenShare can be different. With allotment waiting lists as long as two years, this is a great way to make the most of the land we have. The project aims to match gardeners with garden owners to create mutually beneficial growing areas.

Interest in the GardenShare project has begun to grow again and we feel it is time to put some of energies into getting this wonderful idea going again in Tavistock. Plenty of the early leg-work has been done. It now needs a core group of individuals to push the project beyond the starting line. If you would be interested in helping us achieve this, then please contact Max Laithwaite.

Our Solar Water-heating Panel, One Year On …

In 2010 we bought a Solartwin hot water panel. It was the ingenious design and the thoughts behind its construction helped us choose SolarTwin.  It’s made in the UK with most components also sourced in the UK. The aluminium extrusions that make up the frame came from Scandinavia because the smelting plant and factory is powered by hydro-electric power, so reducing its carbon footprint.

Its design, using silicon rubber pipes, means freezing in winter isn’t a problem. There is no antifreeze in the system so no repeated top-up or replacement. In fact the water running through the panel is the same that comes out of the taps. The pump and control system are all powered by its own PV panel, it runs completely off-grid and requires no maintenance except perhaps wiping clear of leaves etc every few years.

Since English sunshine is not that reliable, we use a back up immersion heater to top up if the weather is cloudy. The time switch allows this to come one for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. An immersion heater is the most efficient way of heating water with electricity. The elements are completely surrounded by water so there can be no loss from heat escaping before it gets to the water. If the water in the tank is hotter than the immersion heater thermostat, then it won’t switch on.

The panel supplies all the hot water in the house, from hand washing and dishwashing, to showers and baths. We don’t have a dishwasher and the clothes washing machine has its own heater.

We get all our electricity from Good Energy who promise that 100% of their supply is from renewables, either wind power, hydroelectric or tidal. It is Good Energy that own the Delabole wind farm and recently replaced several old turbines with newer larger ones. They buy in hydroelectric from other generating companies in the UK: possibly even that at Mary Tavy.

We were aware that we would be paying a premium for 100% renewable supply but gambled on Good Energy holding their prices when other companies are forced to raise their prices in line with rising oil and coal prices. I tried getting a comparison from Uswitch website but without success.

One useful thing about bills from Good Energy is that each shows a comparison with the same period a year earlier. Unfortunately my filing system has failed me and I can only find the last 3 quarters but these are very interesting. The first bill is from February this year and is the highest because it includes Christmas when there are usually about 10 people here for a week, so heaters and electric showers get used. Normally electricity is just for light and cooking. The central heating is only on for that Xmas week/fortnight and we use wood fuel for the rest of the year.

The figures:-

·         Initial cost of panel £2700 to include fitting kit, PV panel pump and control systems. Fitting cost about £500 so a total of about £3300.

·         Average daily power – consumption during 3 mths to Feb 2010 was 24.9 kWh/day.

·          After fitting the panel – consumption during 3 mths to Feb 2011 was 17.3 kWh/day.

·         Reduction of 30%

·         Average daily power – consumption during 3 mths to May 2010 was 24.9 kWh/day.

·         After fitting the panel – consumption during 3 mths to May 2011 was 13.6 kWh/day.

·         Reduction of 45%

·         Average daily power – consumption during 3 mths to Aug 2010 was 16.3 kWh/day.After fitting the panel – consumption during 3 mths to Aug 2011 was 12.3 kWh/day.

·         Reduction of 24.5%.

Maintenance costs over this time = zero.

To do a cost comparison is not easy because the bills use a mix of actual and estimated figures during those quarters which will have been corrected for following quarters. The average power usage should not vary as much but a truer comparison could be made over subsequent years.

Current cost of electricity from Good Energy is 14.22p per kWh. Using the latest prices and the last quarter’s average works out at £1.84/day including their standing charge of 9p/day. A 30 day month would cost us £55.20

During these periods we have still been replacing a few remaining incandescent bulbs but the bulk of the saving must be because of the panel. Our usage will not have changed that much. Using cold water for short washes or soaking dishes will have made only a small saving.

Our plans are to generate some of our own electricity but because of the amount used/wasted in the losses within the national grid, we would prefer to use any we generate on-site; but then storage becomes a problem.


Links of the Month: Click on these!

and an interesting article written from the Post Carbon Institute by Eric Curren:

Green Drinks 13th September from 7.30 to 9.30 at the Market Inn, Whitchurch Rd, Tavistock; all welcome on the second Tuesday of every month.

Devon Car Free Day 22nd September

The aim of the day is to get people to leave their cars at home, explore other options of getting to work and reduce their carbon footprint.  Hopefully, the day will help everyone that takes part to see how alternatives to the car can save money, benefit their health and help to cut congestion in Devon.

Last year, people travelled using everything from scooters to skateboards, penny farthings and fold up bikes to collapsible canoes and sack trucks, as well as the more traditional alternatives such as walking, cycling or using the bus or train.  A team of four from the Environment Agency pushed a colleague in a recycled bath on wheels almost four miles to the offices in Exminster, and pupils at Hazeldown Primary school in Teignmouth made a ‘chinese dragon’ walking bus.