Anyone can compost, anywhere.

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February was a rainy month, but between the welcome downpours and cloudy days we used the sunny interludes to build and maintain several composting piles and techniques, as part of 5th grades 8 week project based learning.  Closing the cycle of food waste, and turning presumed trash to black gold, compost feeds soil, improves its structure, houses beneficial critters, retains water, gives roots room to grow, diverts organic material from landfill, saves money and brings all grades together to save the earth from greenhouse gasses and nasty methane gas emissions.

Our first and simplest method was a cylindrical lazy Digester built right into our garden bed, microorganisms swallowing up food scraps and breaking them down into nutrients right where they’re needed. No hauling no turning.

Next we built a 3’x3’x3′ open air pallet compost bin, a pile of browns and greens, keeping the ratio of 3 part browns (carbon rich material) to 1 part green (nitrogen rich). The pallet helps maintain the shape, raised from the ground it also helps with aeration. This is our Cold pile taking its own time to decompose.

Vermicomposting was next. Most exciting of all methods those red wrigglers and their poop (worm castings) bringing squeals of ‘eww’ and much excitement. The kids built the plastic flow through stacked vermicomposting unit, reading out the instructions for all to understand, added the moistened and softened coconut coir bedding and then the 1/2 pound of red wrigglers, with some shredded banana peels and composted soil to give it all a jumpstart.

Meanwhile two enclosed plastic compost bins get fed weekly with a constant supply of greens, (home and cafeteria food scraps measured before being added) and browns (dry leaves/hay). This simple lesson in carbon upcycling has had the kids thinking of how food waste saved from landfill and its CO2 and Methane gas emissions becomes healthy nutritious soil for plants in simple and easy ways.

If time permits we’ll build a Thermophilic three bin system, and before the session ends add the requisite brown and greens to a Tumbler that is waiting its turn on compost row.

 

 

 

Tahereh Sheerazie

Tahereh likes to hike, bike, quilt, cook and most of all garden. She has been a garden ranger with EnrichLa since January 2015. She teaches middle school children, many of whom have special needs which has necessitated a slow, mindful approach to place based garden education. Improving soil, making compost, harvesting water, growing natives and ancient grains and journal writing, is what she enjoys doing most with the children.

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