Australia Felix Permaculture Update

sustainableearth.steve sustainableearth.steve at verizon.net
Wed Aug 29 22:04:22 EDT 2001


    It's too bad the wool went to China. It will return to world markets, especially the  US, as CHEAP finished goods-- probably as clothing and bedding -- and kill small businesses that are currently marketing products of wool coming from small farm networks. The price of wool will plummet and sustainable agriculture will take another spin on the wheel of misfortune.
    We just purchased a wool topper for our mattress and a wool comforter, both wrapped in organic cotton, from a small business. The wool comes from a small farm network in the Sonoma Valley of California.  Sustainability in agriculture will only occur when consumers make a conscious effort to support non-industrial farmers and pay more to do so. The prices seem high in the short term, but it is definitely an investment in the future, especially in our rural communities.
    Thanks for the info on wool insulation. After I posted my inquirey, I searched the web and found several companies in Australia producing insulation. I have found no one doing this in the US. Here they use the bogus term of mineral wool which isn't wool at all.

Steve Bonney
Sustainable Earth, a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to the development of sustainable food and farming systems
100 Georgton Ct.
W. Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-9366
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Australia Felix Permaculture 
  To: permaculture 
  Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2001 12:11 AM
  Subject: Re: Australia Felix Permaculture Update


  Hello Steve,

  Thanks for the post. Wool insulation is both widely used and available here in South Eastern Australia, with at least 4 companies marketing it as a product in my town alone (of 80000 people). Australia being the world's biggest sheep/wool growing nation may have something to do with it!! Similar to the US wool prices have been low for years with global prices largely linked to the enormous stock pile of bale stored in Sydney. (they were threatening to burn it at one stage - now it looks like the Chinese have bought the lot much to the joy of the Aussie wool grower. Funny sheep prices are fantastic at the moment...)
   
  The insulation in my ceiling is just loose fill 100% scoured wool - and applied with a blower-type device. It cost AUD$730 for 14 squares, which is as cheap as you'll get...The R rating is between R2.2-R3.5. It is treated with a borax-based compound (Sodium Octoborate Tetrahydrate) to negate the impact of wool moth. Our roof is tiled and well ventilated, although high humidity levels only occasionally arise in summer when rain is about - usually the extremely low summer humidity and 40-45+ degrees centigrade temperatures are the order of the day - something the wool will help to reduce the desiccating effects of - we hope!! Nonetheless the occasional humidity is nothing like what you would have to put up with. Another product that we are getting is a composite wool/poly batt - it is 60:40 Wool:Poly. This will be used in the stud walls and ceiling of the sunrooms we are building. The batts are R3.5. Flammability of all wool products is very low too.

  We also have pure woollen pillows, underblankets and doonas which you have to experience to believe. These too were pretty cost effective and after one night you'll never go back. 

  I figure for all the damage sheep have done to our landscape we should be utilising their products in as sensible a way as possible - not bad eating either. 

  Go for it.

  Cheers,

  Yours and Growing,

  Darren Doherty

    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: sustainableearth.steve 
    To: permaculture 
    Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2001 12:55 PM
    Subject: Re: Australia Felix Permaculture Update


    Darren,
        Your recent accomplishments are amazing. My congratulations.
        I am keenly interested in wool for house insulation. Did you encapsulate the wool? Here in the temperate Midwest of the U.S.,  the issues about wool would be insect infestation and damage, degradation of the wool over time in a humid climate, and flammability. 
        I am developing an eco-farm and want to demonstrate building with materials that are natural, low-tech, and local resources. Insulation is a critical factor in this context. Although the popularity of wool for clothing and bedding is increasing in the US , prices for wool have been in the toilet for several years. A demand for wool insulation could stimulate a network of regional businesses connected to family farms. This could provide needed economic sustainability in the family farm sector. 
        Of related interest (insulation, that is), someone on the ferrocement list recommends clay coated straw as insulation with good R values.  However, he is in Austin, Texas, which is much drier than Indiana. and the same issues exist here.
    Best,
    Steve

    Steve Bonney
    Sustainable Earth, a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to the development of sustainable food and farming systems
    100 Georgton Ct.
    W. Lafayette, IN 47906
    (765) 463-9366
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