The Gallaty family goes off-grid step-by-step in Sydney, Australia

My name is Jess and my husband and I are on a journey to make our home, and our lifestyles, more sustainable.

This journey started around five years ago.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly how it all began but it seems that Troy and I naturally, and thankfully, just started to become more interested in nature, sustainability, animals and health as we got a little older.

Sometime in 2013 Troy decided to start a veggie patch in a our backyard. I was initially reluctant, being nervous about the cost and time commitment and so on. As Troy’s interest grew, I realised that a veggie patch in our backyard was a fabulous idea that we really needed to make a go of - to save money and better our own health!

Part of the productive garden

Part of the productive garden

Back when things first started. Troy created most of the veggie garden with leftover building materials - with some good results.

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Learning about growing your own food seems to naturally lead you into other topics of sustainability. I became genuinely interested in how we could make better choices about the way we live and how that makes a positive impact on ourselves, others, animals and our earth. 

We started with simple and easy things like recycling, composting, reducing waste, reducing plastic, recycled toilet paper, eco conscience cleaning products and so on. 

8 panels on each side of our house to maximise the sun throughout the day

8 panels on each side of our house to maximise the sun throughout the day

Our first big home spend was installing solar, 16 panels back in 2015.

The next was an overhaul on the garden, with the aim to produce as much of our food as possible and to make it a more liveable space.

This was a wonderful experience as we were lucky enough to have the help of Jamie Durie and the team at The Living Room. This month marks two years since that happened, which is hard to believe. Over those two years we’ve few setbacks in the garden - several chicken invasions (they are better fed than us), our first child arriving as well as learning to garden in our new set up.

With results not being what we hoped, Troy has been spending some time improving the soil that was brought in, as well as us both dedicating more time to the garden in general. We’re starting to see better results and hopefully I can keep everyone posted on this and report back with an idea of what backyard gardening is saving in our food bills.

Introducing our son to the chooks and the garden

Introducing our son to the chooks and the garden

Cluck!

Cluck!


The garden overhaul was terrific and is practical TV.

Garden fact sheet: S6_Ep39_Jamie%20Durie%20Family%20Food%20Garden%20Factsheet.pdf

Watch it here.

As well as ramping up the focus on the veggie gardens, we have also decided we want to make some changes to our house in an effort to become more sustainable. Unsure where to begin we set up a call with Michael Mobbs who has been a wonderful help. 

Success in the gardens - figs, tomatoes, pumpkin, leafy greens and passionfruit

Success in the gardens - figs, tomatoes, pumpkin, leafy greens and passionfruit

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Our plan is to make some of these changes to our home and land every year, allowing us to save money for 12 months and then put it towards the cost associated. 

Some of the things on the list we are considering include: 

  • Upgrading solar, after installing Solar Analytics to monitor current use 

  • Rain water tanks (mainly to water the patches but also connected to the washing machine and toilet)

  • Native bees

  • Leaky Drain system

  • Upgrading roof insulation 

  • Sky lights (insulated) 

  • Trading our car in for an electric car 

  • Insulated blinds

  • Upgrading to a solar hot water system 

  • Sharing solar between neighbours

  • Starting a vegetable garden a the front of our house to involve others 

  • Adding a heat reflective paint to our roof 

Since speaking with Michael at the end of last year we have changed our shower water head (link), set up a power meter to monitor the energy consumption of our current fridge and have installed a very interesting exhaust system to help cool and heat our home (link). We’ve only had the exhaust system installed for a few days but we are impressed with the immediate change it has made to our home, making it cooler and noticeably more ventilated. 

Our costs so far and anticipated future works and costs are listed below.

Feel free to comment with any questions or advice.

We are learning as we go and much of this is new to us.

Tackling our goal of sustainability in bite size pieces has been key to making this a truly enjoyable, achievable and natural process.

Costs

Previous investment:

Solar - approx $5000 installed 2015

Shower head - E-co shower head and arm $165 installed Dec 2018

Endmond’s Odyssey Exhaust System - Estimated at $2000-2500 installed, installed February 2019

Garden makeover - See fact sheet for some of the costings S6_Ep39_Jamie%20Durie%20Family%20Food%20Garden%20Factsheet.pdf

Possible future upgrades:

Solar analytics $700

  • Upgrading solar, after installing Solar Analytics to monitor current use - Costs to be provided when known

  • Rain water tanks (mainly to water the patches but also connected to the washing machine and toilet)

  • Native bees - $450

  • Leaky Drain system (see link) - Estimated $200+

  • Upgrading roof insulation - Costs to be provided when known

  • Sky lights (insulated) - $700+

  • Trading our car in for an electric car - Costs to be provided when known

  • Insulated blinds - Costs to be provided when known

  • Upgrading to a solar hot water system -$4000+

  • Sharing solar between neighbours -Costs to be provided when known

  • Starting a vegetable garden a the front of our house to involve others -$50+

  • Adding a heat reflective paint to our roof - Costs to be provided when known

Our next upgrade is likely to be installing water tanks - hopefully by April 2019. 

•   Life goes on in our step by step off-grid journey

Life goes on in our step by step off-grid journey

Thank you for reading!

Jessica Gallaty