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Compost 101

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19th Feb 2021

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This pandemic has limited the nights we spend eating out at restaurants and has bought home cooking into the spotlight. What are the possibilities each night for dinner? What to do with the scraps and bits of leftovers? The answer is compost!

The best way to rebel against an environmentally ignorant era is to begin with leftovers. Each piece of uneaten food is a tragedy that composting can help remedy. The idea is to imagine the massive amounts of potential that lay within food- the building blocks of the human body. We are what we eat. What about what we don’t eat? 

The engine of digestion guides food to be processed within the stomach and to support human life on Earth. A compost pile, bin, or project is very much a stomach for what didn’t get eaten. Composting is taking organic matter and supporting its journey back into the earth. One does not need to be a farmer in order to compost or to justify composting. Yes, the result can be to create nutrient-dense organic matter that supports a garden. Composting could also be driven from the perspective that it is environmentally more friendly to remove as much as possible from the trip to the landfill. So what goes into the compost bin? 

The visual mix of brown and green matter is helpful for remembering nitrogen/carbon ratios that support a healthy compost system. Green scraps (Nitrogen) are the fruit peels/rinds, fresh leaves or grass and more everyday items from the list above. Browns, or carbon-rich elements, can be tea bags, dried leaves/hay/grass and egg cartons or cardboard leftovers. Consult the list and try to keep meat or shellfish out of the pile in order to keep the rats out (and because it will stink!) A healthy compost pile has an earthy sent of potential. Remember this is a vortex of transformation. 

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Where? Deciding a place to throw all the plant scarps together is easy if there is outdoor space available, but don’t discredit the urban composting movement. Anything is possible and here are some resources with solutions for figuring out a place to compost. If you are in an apartment, consider the Compostology GG02, $1300 and pretty amazing. This device holds and composts 10 days worth of organic material, aerates it, and keeps odors to a minimum. A $115 solution is made by Tierra Garden, the Graf Stationary Composter. It would need to occupy a small space outside, but is very easy to use (dump in food scraps) and let time in nature take care of the rest. 

Reduce, re-use, recycle- finding a DIY compost solution on the internet is only a Google search away. If you have a space large enough to throw scraps, then you can take scraps of wood materials to designate the space for composting and turn it with a shovel. The goal is to allow nature the space to re-digest and uptake nutrients into the soil system that was otherwise headed for the landfill.

This also allows for the beginnings of an intimate relationship with the food circle that starts with the sun, grows the crops, is chopped and discarded by chefs of the home, and needs to find their way back to the ground to offer energy stored in their scraps back to the Earth. Composting is easy, and is definitely a statement in the environmental movement towards respecting the only place discovered to nurture human life: Mother Earth!