In 2013 I had a life changing moment which sent me on a journey where I met Geoff and Nadia Lawton, and the team at Zaytuna Farm.
I thought I was going up there to learn about growing my own tomatoes at home, just like my grandfather used to (he had some amazing tomatoes!) He also had some of the best grown food in the street, everyone used to tell me as a kid. To me, it was just normal food we got from him.
He was a train driver and used to drive steam trains as well as the XPT, which is a train that runs from Sydney to Brisbane twice a day. He was always away during the week, and we would get to see him almost every weekend for the family BBQs. Some weekends that was one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and they are some of my best memories as a kid.
I always wondered, as I got older, how he worked so much and managed to grow all this amazing food. After doing my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) I thought back and realised all the permaculture based systems he had in his life and garden of doing things. It just all fell into place after doing my PDC of how he created his own little supermarket in the backyard with minimal input as he was always driving trains or BBQ’ing in my eyes.
After doing the PDC and getting back to real life, I dabbled into doing a few permaculture designs for people and tried to get excited about teaching people to grow their own food. As much as I love growing my own food, as there is nothing more exciting than cooking a whole meal that you have grown in your own backyard, I wasn’t that excited about teaching others that full time.
My wife and I had just sold a business that was involved in the solar industry, renewable energy has always been an interest of mine. In 2013 after doing the PDC at Zaytuna Farm we went back and took our family home Off-Grid. You can watch the video here.
We started to open the house up on the weekends and do tours to show people the whole solution of what was possible in an urban environment on 620 square meters (or 6673.62 sq feet for the imperial people). We had 40 fruit trees and 1000 different types and varieties of food, harvested our own water and only relied on town water for a small percentage of our water. My little hobby was our off grid solar system – I even had a solar powered electric motorcycle I charged from the system! You can check it out here and how I adventured around on my solar bike.
At this point I was really wanting to take the permaculture ethics, and implement them into a business somehow to make an impact on what is going on. The one common theme that kept coming up was people wanting more information about when they come to our house and saw the solar and batteries- how could they install a permaculture based solar system? That’s when 24 Hour Solar Power was born. A solar company that designed and installed permaculture based solar systems.
I love the conversations I have with our customers. We talk about embodied energy and how long the payback period is for the energy it took to create the products. How can we reduce our energy consumption to install smaller systems for a faster environmental payback?
What trees can we grow in certain areas so we can reduce our Air Conditioning usage? What’s the environmental impact of the end of the life in batteries? I could go on all day about the fun stuff that I get to talk about everyday, with people calling in and wanting advice on ethical products to use in Solar and their permaculture build.
The big reason I stayed away from solar in the first place is a normal sales conversation. ‘Hey I have some money to invest, can you show me what my return on my investment is going to be?’
For me, if I wanted to talk about Return On Investment, I would have gotten into finance or the stock markets. I love that most of my day, I talk about cool builds that people are doing with hemp, straw bale and eco houses. I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to design and supply solar systems to these people, and give them advice on how to make their homes more energy efficient.
More and more everyday, we are dealing with business owners who are making changes in their business.
My biggest problem over the years has been recruiting and finding employees and contractors for 24 hour solar, that share the same permaculture values as I do, as a person and as our business. The main thing that stuck with me from the PDC was Geoff talking about implementing the ethics of permaculture in everything we do. This is what I thought I could make more of an impact with, rather than focusing on teaching people how to grow food.
One of my longest serving contractors said the first time I asked him to come to my house to see what I had going on, he asked me if I was one of those ‘greenie’ types. I asked him what he meant by that, he said most solar installers in the industry are in it for the money and nothing else. I asked him, so what’s the reason you’re in it? He replied that he wanted to make a change environmentally for the planet. My response was, so have you heard of Permaculture? No? Come out here, and I will show you what it’s all about and what we are doing at 24 hour solar to make a difference.
This has been a huge challenge for us as a business, to find the right person with the right qualifications who also lives a permaculture ethics life, or at least wants to make change and do things a bit more permaculturely (if that is even a word?).
We are asking the permaculture community for help for us to find some more staff. If you know someone, or are a qualified Solar installer for Off-Grid, Hybrid installs In Australia. We are looking for more contractors and employees to assist us with our installation work Australia wide. We are also looking to recruit someone (preferably in the Northern Rivers area of NSW) to help with our websites, SEO, Youtube,Video-editing, and a range of other media related tasks- some of these tasks can be done remotely.
If you think you could be a fit to work with the team at 24 Hour Solar Power, please
send us your resume and details to [email protected]
Let us know where your talent lays, and we will be in touch.