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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Topical Tropical

I've heard it said that you can tell a lot about a person by the business they run. A visit to Tropical Nursery in Sherwood (a suburb of Durban), is quite an informative experience, and reveals a lot about the amiable owner - Frank Edwards.

Tropical is always well stocked with the usual plants, pots and nursery-ware. But it's the fact that you can find some quite unique and interesting plants that sheds some light on who Frank is.
The main clue though, as to his eccentricities - are the poems, sayings and garden/life wisdom that are scattered around the nursery. Look out for the city of Gondolin built around a water feature in the middle of the nursery.

To top it all off (literally), Frank's home is a tree house at the top of a beautiful Acacia growing in the heart of his nursery. He is something of a bohemian character to say the least.

But Frank is also leading the way in sustainable living. In attempting to lessen his environmental impact, he has installed a solar geyser for hot water, a worm farm to deal with some of his kitchen waste, and the latest project is an electricity generating wind turbine.

Paula Osborn from Inkanyiso Sustainable Systems - the company that installed the wind turbine says that the plan is to create sufficient energy to run Frank's home and office, and possibly even feed back into the grid.

At this point in time, there is little in the way of financial encouragement from the government, or municipality to make it worth the investment in the equipment necessary. The only pay-off being the self satisfaction in doing what you can for the environment around you.

Going off-grid (creating all your own electricity using 'green' energy) has become quite vogue in environmental circles, but feeding back into the grid is one step better - Germany is one of the countries that has been leading the way for quite some time. An article on Wikipedia states that: "In 2005, 10 per cent of electricity in Germany came from renewable sources and 70 per cent of this was supported with feed-in tariffs."

Apart from trying to educate the public, Paula is working on a few other projects - A Community Gardening program, to make growing beds of vegetables easier for the average person, and experimenting with several different vermiculture methods. She also sells worms for any budding vermiculturists out there?

If you are in the area, and have time these holidays - take a trip to Tropical Nursery, and spend some time looking around - you'll come away a little wiser!

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