Friday, 17 June 2011

Thursday 16th June 11

A really good day, some very positive things happened. 

As usual, I had a fairly gentle start to the day, getting up at 9 and not doing anything very active until I needed to get dressed because I was due to meet Harry, a MSc student from the Centre for Alternative Technology, at midday at St Nicks.  He had approached me as he wants to do a PhD on composting hemp and lime plaster.  He thought I'd have a few answers and pointers for him.

So, I met him just after 12; he'd come over from Leeds and cycled from the station.  I gave him the briefest of tours of St Nicks and then over our sandwich lunch, he asked me a very wide range of questions to do with all sorts of aspects of his proposed PhD.  The aim of this was to find ways of reusing the hemp-lime render/plaster from end-of-life buildings, by composting it alongside the more usual biodegradable materials to create a soil amendment.  I was pleased to be able to provide some very sensible answers, including ones based on my insights into commercial composting operations and economics, my understanding of the chemistry and physics of composting (stuff like forced aeration and Effective Microorganisms) and had suggestions such as contacting the planet's top mycologist, Paul Stamets, to see if there were any lime-loving or lime tolerant fungi which could be used to inoculate the material, and seeing if there was anything similar going on at the Leeds University composting department, with Professor Ed Stentiford.  Another American resource I use is the US Composting Council, which has a newsletter and an email 'listserve' Compost Discussion List, which I participate in, and a forum, which I don't.

After this, and meeting John from St Nicks and Catherine our head Rotter, and signing up for the next York Rotters free training, I took him on a bike tour of the nature reserve.  I asked if he was interested in seeing the EcoDepot, as it's made from straw panels and lime render, and so I arranged for him to be shown the room where the straw can be seen through little windows in the render.  Whilst in there, I was highly delighted to spot something which assorted York Rotters have been talking about for months: a cut-away display compost bin, something we use on stalls and events to stimulate interest and discussion.  We used to have 4 of these, but one had mysteriously gone missing and several people had been wondering about it.  It had been left in the EcoDepot, and they didn't know where it had come from, yet were loath to dispose of it as it was obviously a 'nice object'.  Why they hadn't connected it with York Rotters I don't know, but never mind.  Had the done, I wouldn't have had the chance, once I'd said goodbye to Harry, of putting it securely on my trailer and carefully cycling it back to St Nicks.  I felt SO pleased to be able to go to Catherine and tell her I had a little present!

So from here I went home, very happy.  I didn't have long at home as I was working for David at 5, and after we did a bit of stuff in the house, we went to City Screen.  We met Carolyn, and Dave Taylor and Andy D'Agorne, and then my friend Azra came in and it was just lovely to see her... and then I spotted Melanie and I chatted to her... a very social time.  David loves the buzz of it all too.  I took him back at 6.30 and got him his tea ready, did his recycling and left at 7, with 4 large sacks of Barley Hall decorative vegetation in my trailer.

I went to Edward's house, and he gave me a bowl of home-made leafy soup, with produce out of his garden.  Then other York in Transition people started appearing and we had our first meeting about the thermal imaging camera project.  I took notes and enjoyed the cut and thrust of the meeting.... and contributed some useful bits I think.  However, writing the notes out took over an hour on the laptop, but I got them done before writing my blog.  Bed after 3.30am, whoops! 

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