Bellis: A Model, Affordable Sustainable House and Garden in Brisbane
Bellis is an ordinary, rather elderly Queenslander house in Brisbane’s Bayside.
It’s been retrofitted for sustainability by it’s owners, Jerry Coleby-Williams and post-sustainability consultant Jeff Poole. During the commissioning process of the domestic wastewater treatment system they were startled to be advised by Queensland’s Environment Protection Agency they had become suburban pioneers. In 2003, Bellis was the only place in Queensland where the bulk of a household’s food is grown using treated wastewater. Not much has changed since.
A few years later, Jerry was advising Queensland’s Minister for Water how to improve the state’s grey water use policy based on experiences at Bellis to better serve Queenslanders during the Millennium Drought.
Bellis is not an attempt at self-sufficiency, but an indicator of how we can turn the suburban sprawl of Australia’s cities to an environmental advantage without compromising our Australian lifestyle.
Australian homes are plumbed in for watering, they have electricity to power equipment, many have either space or soil for food growing – sometimes both.
Importantly, homes have a source of free labour to make things happen: people! A five year old can save seed and grow sprouts, a seven year old can understand crop rotation and how to dry, freeze or bottle food and make jam – a young Jerry did all these things. With a little thought, an adult can grow enough food to feed themselves all year round with just 100 square metres of good soil.
At Bellis, we grow food, we harvest rainwater and solar energy, and we treat and reuse water that might otherwise be wasted – all things that can be done with ease by a homeowners in Australia’s extensive suburbs.
You’re welcome to take a look around.
Remember, sustainability is mostly about living within your means. Do not be discouraged if you can’t do a whole lot of things all at once.
Take small, meaningful steps that you can guarantee to carry out. The cumulative effect is what matters.
Jerry Coleby-Williams and Jeff Poole