Sustainability education is our key focus

Our focus is to inspire and spark a light in young generation as they are the change makers and our future. We do a lot of sustainability presentations, educational talks and gardening workshops at child care centres, schools, colleges and universities. See our Education flyer. References are available on request.
If you want us to come to your organization to deliver one of our educational, inspirational and empowering talks please contact us

This is our article published at the Queensland Geographer magazine (Geography Teachers' Association Queensland) in Dec 2015.

Sustainable Living in the Inner City: An Educational Case Study

The majority of Australians live in cities and about one third of these people live in rental accommodation. Living sustainably for most people represents a challenge, let along people who are renting as most people think that being sustainable is hard work and is also expensive. However, the opposite is true; here is one example which can be used as a geographical case study.

Roman Spur (Sustainable Design Engineer), Jana (full time mum) and their daughter Lada (2.5 years old), have been living in a rental property (a block of five units) in New Farm, Brisbane for over six years. The family lived a sustainable lifestyle prior to making Australia their home. On arrival here they saw the ideal opportunity to continue a life of self-sufficiency.

Their path to self-sufficiency includes growing their own food, using resources readily available to them and utilising the urban environment to their own benefit. As a result, they have created a more resilient existence. 

Sustainable living to the Spur Family means an enhancement of life, a lowering of living expenses and being environmentally aware, without compromising comfort or incurring extra expenditure.
Together they created an “urban farm” which produces veggies, fruit, herbs, seeds, grains, nuts honey and eggs in abundance. Most of the food for the family comes from a small backyard garden. Any excess produce is shared and swapped within the neighbourhood community.

Roman, Jana and Lada created the notion of “SpurTopia”, a small kingdom of Utopia where the family are living simple, eating healthy food and fulfilling lives in complete happiness. Most importantly, their daughter Lada, is being raised in a natural environment which will give her endless benefits in the future. As a family they have set an example of what can be achieved in a rental property, passionately sharing their experience, knowledge, ideas and inventions with others. Spreading the word has been This is achieved through TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, public events, open days, workshops, presentations, conferences and social media, locally, nationally and internationally.

Roman’s engineering mind is constantly coming up with new ideas and inventions. Some examples are:
- A solar hot water system made for less than $50;

- A self-watering planter using a broccoli box and pvc piping; and

- A gravity fed garden irrigation system using a semi-automated rain water harvesting system

All these ideas and inventions are shared freely. Together they walk lightly on the planet and by 5R’s mantra, Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Repair. An example of the 5R’s is that people don’t need to have a rubbish bin. By diverting waste materials from landfill the benefits to the environment with be tremendous. This can be achieved by composting fruit and veggie scraps from the units where they live, as well as from local fruit and veggie shops. Grass clippings from the neighbourhood are collected and coffee grounds from local coffee shops are utilised for growing oyster mushrooms. Chickens consume another food source - maggots. Eventually, all reach their final destination, the garden bed, as a valuable fertiliser and this allows for carbon sequestering to occur.

An initiative by the Spur Family was to install a 5000 litre rainwater harvesting system (for less than $100). Using water efficient gardening techniques, this provides most of the annual water supply for the backyard garden. Household electricity consumption has been reduced to a minimum (20% of the average Australian household energy consumption) by using fans instead of air-conditioning and solar cooking. Electricity which is used, is purchased as 100% green power.

Roman’s and Jana’s commitment is ongoing and includes:

- Inspirational, educational and empowering sustainability talks at schools suitable for all grades.

- Helping schools set up edible gardens and running hands-on gardening and beekeeping workshops to empower students to grow and produce their own food.

- Sustainability talks at community events, careers days, conferences, libraries and community centres.

- Raising sustainable living awareness and inspiring people all around Australia and worldwide.

Their passion and enthusiasm is infectious, spreading widely and inspiring countless people to live more sustainably. The Spur Family live healthy and happy lives and encourage people to act sustainably and to empower themselves to make a real and positive difference to their own lives which will have positive sustainable impacts on a local, national and global level.

Connections with the Secondary Geography Curriculum

The Spurtopia case study lends itself to illustrate the following elements of the Geography curriculum

Under Learning Area
Who we are, who came before us, and traditions and values that have shaped societies
Students explore their own identity, Australia’s heritage and cultural diversity, and Australia’s identity as a nation in the world. They examine the significance of traditions and shared values within society.

#Teachers can draw on the key idea that societies have been self-sufficient for generations, and primarily grew their own food, even in Western societies. Spurtopia’s principles are simply reimagining the old and common practice of self-sufficiency.

Year 7 (Content Descriptor)

The influence of social connectedness and community identity on the liveability of place (ACHGK046)
# Roman and Jana developed links with their neighbours and the community in New Farm by sharing and giving away produce e.g. honey and eggs in exchange for other services.

Year 8

Human causes and effects of landscape degradation (ACHGK051)
# The Spur's original backyard before they moved in was barren and denuded of life with only bonfire ashes in the middle of the lawn. Through Roman’s hard work this landscape changed into a productive environment. Their capacity to include the scientific concepts of creating good soil by introducing the notion of compost, good drainage, friability and sustainable and renewable practices allowed for the creation of an organic garden that was shared by friends and neighbours.

Year 9

The capacity of the world’s environments to sustainably feed the projected future population to achieve food security for Australia and the world (ACHGK064)

#This is an ideal springboard to share ideas about how individual families living in urban settings can re-engage with the land and feed their own families (in some small measure). Teachers can also talk about the pressures of human population expansion (another 2 billion mouths to feed by 2100) and how current agricultural technology is barely able to keep pace with food production (and specifically shipment of fresh food in developing countries to an appropriate market place). Spoilage is high in developing countries whilst food waste is enormous in the developed world. These are very important concepts for Year 9 students to understand.

Year 10

Human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability (ACHGK070)

Different ways of measuring and mapping human wellbeing and development, and how these can be applied to measure differences between places (ACHGK076)

The role of international and national government and non-government organizations’ initiatives in improving human wellbeing in Australia and other countries (ACHGK081)

#These 3 content descriptors allows teachers to help build an argument about sustainability and personal responsibility. Clearly one of the principle merits of sustainability espoused by work at Spurtopia is the relatively stress free existence that it has created. Simply put…..People learn to live on less.

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