Thursday, 3 November 2011

Friday 30th September 11

Up early to cycle out to Tollerton to work at The Pizza Farm.  They grow wheat (and make flour and pizza dough), tomatoes and onions (and make pizza sauce) and pigs (to make Parma ham, apparently) and cook pizzas in a wood-fired oven... and have school trip visitors to learn about food production.  Normally they have about 40 kids, and split them into 2 groups, but today they were due to have 58 kids, so needed to split them into 3 groups, and felt my composting talk would complement the food growing and food preparation sessions.

So I took a range of food packaging plus some food 'on the turn' and various sorts of compost, and a selection of compost beasties.

I set out early in order to get there for 9.30; it was an hour's cycle, and the children were due at 10am.  I was given a place near a hedge, with a table for my materials, which I placed in 3 areas: assorted food packaging, some of which was recyclable, and some which generally isn't; a load of lovely biodegradable things... including things starting to biodegrade, and a collection of jars of assorted composting things... some still just recognisable, from the top layers of a heap, and another of more mature compost.  I had one jar of year-old leafmould, another of mature riddled leafmould.  I had quite a few different animals, beetles and beetle larvae, centipedes, millipedes, woodlice, slugs, worms... and finally, a jar of well composted 'humanure' and sawdust, as I know children love anything to do with that sort of thing.

With each group I started by inviting a child to pick a packaging object and to tell me what it was made of and how it could be recycled.  With a few different sorts of packaging chosen, we covered glass, metals, cardboard, paper and plastic, and got quite a bit of information over.  We covered landfill and incineration, and how different sorts of materials can be recycled and why.  With the mouldy food, we covered bacteria and fungi, and how food is normally preserved. Then with the compost I was able to talk about the carbon cycle and methane from landfill, and the benefits of home composting, helping to make soil fertile for food growing, wildlife value, etc etc.

One of the other two groups was learning about food growing and processing, and the others were making pizzas and having them cooked in the wood-fired oven.  Part of the deal today for me was that I got pizza for lunch... it was really delicious!  The other part of the deal was that I'd get partly paid in logs; Mike's son runs a fuel-wood business, so once I'd done the third group, after lunch, I was shown the logging area. I was really interested in the machine that the logs are fed into which cuts and splits them.  There was a builders' dumpy bag full of bits and bobs which weren't the right shape or size to go in the 'onion-net' bags which is how the logs are packed and sold, and Mike said I could fill my trailer with some of these.  He also promised a delivery of a couple of sacks of other oddments when he was next passing our house.

So I cycled home having had a very satisfying day teaching about sustainability, paid a fairly small fee, but fed and given logs in lieu of a more substantial payment.

In the evening I went to John Brierley's leaving party.  He's been the St Nicks Centre Manager for 8 years, I think, and done really good work, but he's decided it was time for a change and so he's resigned and tonight was his main leaving do.  I found Kennedy's, just off Stonegate, and spent a couple of very happy hours there chatting to friends old and new.

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