The most important thing that years of growing veggies in my backyard has taught me is that if I don’t feed the soil, the soil can’t feed me. Things finally came to a head last summer when everything I planted stopped growing at micro-veg stage. Suddenly I had a bonsai crop, not the abundant garden I’d been hoping for!
Wanting to create the healthiest food I could for my family, I realised it was time to start adding more compost – partly because it feeds the soil, but also because it helps retain moisture. It was time to stop “mining” my soil and put something back.
I can’t quite express how delighted I was, then, when I heard that Blue Mountains City Council was trialing Compost Hubs in the community! I think I was one of the first people to register, I was so excited!
Becoming a Compost Hub Champion ticks so many boxes for me! It’s a way to make enough compost for my vegetable garden; it’s an excuse to meet neighbours I haven’t met before; and it’s a way to connect regularly with friends. Perhaps even more than anything else, it’s also created more reasons to catch up with my mum, Heidi, who now lives in a block of units nearby!
She was the first person I asked to join my Compost Hub as a Compost Contributor, and she was almost as delighted as I was.
Lately she’s felt the frustration of having moved from a house and garden into a unit. As she said, “I’ve been used to saving my food scraps and this is a great way of contributing a little. I like putting them back into the earth. People in the villages used to do that all the time. No-one ever came to collect rubbish.”
Reducing rubbish is, of course, Blue Mountains City Council’s main focus with this Trial. In Council’s recent waste audit, it appears that more than 26% of waste collected from our garbage bins, MORE THAN A QUARTER, is food waste.
As well as knocking on my neighbours’ doors (which took some courage!), and leaving brochures in their letterboxes inviting them to join the Hub, I also posted what I was doing on Facebook. That had an immediate response. I was thrilled when Simone contacted me straight away and asked to join in.
She’s doing it because with her current living situation (time and space) she can’t set up a proper working compost. “I love the community-minded solution of a Compost Hub. It’s so innovative,” she messaged me on Facebook. “I also love that it’s less landfill pumping methane gas into the atmosphere. Feels like a mindful and conscious thing to do for our children and future generations.”
Yesterday, at the end of week one of the Trial, she dropped in her first bucket of food scraps with her sons Mac and Tav. “The kids love the concept, as do I! It’s easy and efficient. The compost bin is great and fits into our small sink, and because you live near the school it’s very convenient.”
Antonia, who also signed up to join the Compost Hub as soon as she heard about it, has never made compost before. She works in the city and spends a lot of time travelling. “I’m looking forward to learning how to make compost, so maybe I’ll feel more confident to do it in the future,” she said. “In the meantime, I don’t have to feel so bad about throwing food out.”
It turns out that Blue Mountains City Council has a Compost Hub at its Katoomba office. Staff food scraps are composted too!
Well, so far so good! One week down, lots of conversations and a compost filling with food waste.
The Compost Hub Trial runs until July this year.
If the Trial is successful and prevents a substantial amount of food waste going to landfill, Council will look at extending the program. I’ll also see if we can do it on a larger scale for the Blackheath Community Farm.
So, all of you out there who aren’t composting your scraps, contact me if you’re near Blackheath, via 0407437553 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, visit Blue Mountains City Council’s website, or ring them on 4780500 to sign up for a Hub near you!