Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sunday 28th June 09

No work today, but several possible appointments, the first and probably most important was a meeting at midday of the Low Moor Allotment Association committee, to which I had been invited as a special informant about the possibility of a compost toilet on the site. I was second on the agenda after the community policewoman and security.

I started with the statement that humanure can easily be composted if put with some carbon-rich materials such as sawdust or finely chopped straw, but care should be taken with how the resultant material is used, ie, on permanent plantings like hedges, trees, canes etc, but not salad carrots or lettuce... I then said that as far as I was concerned, there were two possible designs of a 'long drop', one with the chambers at ground level, and therefore the room with the pedestal in it at some height, needing steps and a ramp for wheelchair access, and the other option, which I've seen in a lottie in London, is to have the chambers below ground level, 'tanked out' (lined to make them waterproof) and the room with pedestal at ground level, and this room made of bricks, blocks or strawbales, and a secure lockable door. The chambers at ground level would be very easy to dig out, but the structure liable to vandalism, and probably too large due to needing a ramp. The below ground option is more accessible for users but more difficult to empty, needing a special shovel with the blade at right angles to the shaft, accessed through the opening above, which has the pedestal bolted to it when that chamber is in use, and has a cover bolted to it when rotting down. The below-ground version must also have passive ventilation chimneys to draw air over the pile and help dehydrate the manure and prevent odours coming up through the pedestal.

However, the below ground option might have a cost of £10 to £30 thousand, depending on how it was constructed, and there are the issues of who cleans it and keeps it usable, and the occasional task of digging it out. This latter task would be every few years, but the former would be at least weekly. The committee agreed to canvas opinion about whether a toilet would be welcomed on the site, to gauge need, and if there was deemed to be a need, then fundraising could begin and designs submitted. I really hope the questionnaire finds that lots of people would welcome a loo on the lottie, and I can get involved in designing and fundraising.

I got home at about 2pm for lunch, and at about 3.30 went for a cycle ride with my eldest son round to Hull Road Park where there was a YorkLETS social planned. Lynn was there with her two offspring, who are at the same school as my son, and Stephen and Alison were there too, with their son. On the way to the park, we discovered a puncture in my son's back bike wheel, so on the way back he had a lift on my rack and his bike went on my trailer. We'll fix it this week...

I did a load of home composting work after this, re-building a pallet bin which I completely took apart a few weeks ago, and riddling a large amount of quite dry compost which has been in a builders bag for a few weeks. The unrotted sticks etc are going back in the bottom of the newly built pallet bin, for drainage.

Came in for tea, I had a couple of reheated dishes from the last couple of days with two stale pitta breads. The rest of the family had something nicer and fresher, but I'm renowned for being able to stomach anything and not liking waste, so I'd rather eat something than compost it.

Later in the evening when the boys were in bed, Gill and I had a slow game of Scrabble whilst watching Blur and The Prodigy on telly, at Glastonbury Festival. I thrashed her this time!

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