Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Wednesday 13th June 07

Well such a busy day... I had expected to go to Clifton and sign a cheque for LETS, and pick up my compostables and get back in time for a lunch date with Jo.

So I took the boys to school but when I got back I got a phone call continuing yesterday's chats with St Nicks about a school wanting a composting talk. This time the school had rung up and said they DID want the session, 1 til 3. As I didn't want to muck up my lunch too much, I offered 1.30 to 2.30, to do both classes together. Then another phone call, saying yes they wanted the talk/demo, but not at St Nicks, but at their school! Fortunately this was in Holgate, and easy to get to, so I agreed to do it, even at such short notice. I then rang the school and confirmed the times, the address and what they wanted. The talk was part of a healthy living, healthy planet week! Great!

So I cycled along to Clifton via Millers Yard where I picked up 2 sacks of orange halves and coffee grounds, and at Liz's I signed a couple of cheques using our new Coop Bank account. Glad to be shot of Abbey, bunch of losers!

Then to Out Of This World where there was some stuff, not a vast amount, and then to Nationwide to get a cheque for the Polish roofer Artur for fixing the studio roof, and to the Coop Bank to pay our quarterly gas bill, just £10!

Then onto the Hes Road veg shop where Richard had 3 boxes of gear for me so got home nearly at 12 with a heavy load of compostables and some only just out of date tofu...

Gill had made my sandwiches so I was able to go to the University quite quickly, with various things like a carrier bag of unriddled mature compost, a few examples of manky fruit and veg and a riddle. I met with Jo and we cycled to St Nicks and had lunch together, good chats but not enough time really. At 1pm I picked up some handouts for the children and got off to Holgate and arrived at the school with 5 mins to spare.

The talk went well... like this:
Started by asking if they'd done anything about recycling this week, and what they'd learnt.
When someone mentioned composting I told them that's what I'd come to tell them about.
I asked who had a compost heap or compost bin in their garden, and over half put up their hands. So I said that as most of them knew all about composting, should I continue? I answered myself by saying that some people didn't have a compost heap, so they had to hear all about them.
I explained that composting was a natural process which happened all over the World, in grasslands and woods, at the bottom of hedges and in gardens, anywhere where plants and animals dropped leaves, branches, fruit, poos and dead bodies. I mentioned fungi (mushrooms and moulds) and bacteria, insects and worms, millipedes and woodlice, slugs and snails, and the words decaying, rotting, biodegradable and spoilt.
Then I went through what could and cannot be composted and explained thet everything which came from living things (justabout!) could be composted, but that minerals, rocks, metals and synthetic things, generally could not, and gave examples of these. I didn't mention the problems I've had trying to compost coconut shells and seashells!
Then came the practical demo, where I riddled some lumpy compost and found a few worms, rove beetles, woodlice but not much else creey crawly, and some uncompostable things like glue strips from cardboard boxes and a twist tie, and a pile of nice-looking fine-grained compost.
I then said how it could be used... mixed in with some soil as a planting medium for pots of tomatoes or other veg and flowers, or as a top-dressing or mulch.
Then I told them why it is good, by asking them what they think happens to stuff which is thrown away and not recycled... and we got to landfill. I explained about anaerobic decomposition in landfills and methane and leachate, and the problems these pose. Also the fact that landfilled stuff has to be collected and driven to the tip, whereas stuff composted at home doesn't need taking anywhere in a motor vehicle. Ant that landfill is running out and in some areas the landfill is becoming landform, and hills are being made or rubbish.
If things are composted, some of the carbon which may have left the landfill as methane (20 times as powerful a global-warming gas as carbon dioxide) gets trapped within the soil where it improves soil structure and helps hold on to moisture. Soils with compost have healthier plants as compost has nutrients which feed plants and there are other benefits to plants too, such as increased disease resistance. Also home composting helps people learn about environmental issues and helps them take personal responsibility for their waste.
Finally I told them about York Rotters and the 3 free compost bins which the school could have, and the cheap bins that householders can get.
Then I asked for questions... I had dealt with questions during the talk and demonstration, but there were lots of other questions, may of them about composting poo and my compost toilet. One lad asked if compost heaps could go wrong and another asked about unwanted beasties, both excellent questions.
So that was my hour, after which I gave out the handouts and had a brief look at their 'rolypig composter' in their school yard, and then collected my stuff and cycled briskly home, and went to collect the kids.

After tea, which was a nutloaf Gill made earlier and a from-the garden-spinach and free-tomato stirfry, plus a blue cheese sauce for me, I watched a great programme about cleanliness in hospitals, and a 'non-violent-direct-action' where volunteer cleaners went in to 10 hospitals. Then at 8 I loaded the trailer and, in the rain, went to the allotment to plant pumpkins/squash, a cucumber and several beans. Very satisfying!

Got back shortly before 10 and went onto the computer to chat to my friend in Atlanta and process my emails and start my blog... what a day!

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