November 15, 2013
Imagine living in a housing cooperative where you have no power bill and almost no water bill, a home that will use resources more efficiently with food production that provides 85 per cent of your needs.
Shani Graham is the owner of what used to be The Painted Fish on Hulbert Street, Fremantle, a bed and breakfast run on sustainability principles.
But now she has branched off in a new direction and bought another property which she calls ‘Ecoburbia’, in the adjacent Fremantle suburb of Beaconsfield.
Ms Graham used to own two small blocks of land at opposite ends of Hulbert Street – the house she lived and where The Painted Fish was once located.
She says some of her Hulbert Street neighbours did not understand why she left the street.
“We left because we wanted room to grow more food that was secure,” she says.
“We wanted the infrastructure of what we had, in one place so that it’s more efficient.”
She and her partner Tim Darby moved into the house six months ago and are planning to renovate it into a mixture of a housing co-op and community garden.
Ms Graham says the quarter-acre block would otherwise have been subdivided and larger houses built in the existing house’s place.
She says that instead ‘Ecoburbia’ will maximise the use of the block and result in less waste.
“The goal is to house as many people as if there were two houses, but also have room for gardens and animals,” Ms Graham says.
Ms Graham says that at Ecoburbia she wanted to recreate the community environment that exists on Hulbert Street.
“We already have people who randomly pop in at any hour of the day to buy milk or stop for a chat,” she said.