Wednesday, 31 December 2014

In the beginning

Community Composting was an idea that came up from the "The Power of just doing Stuff",a Transition Town meeting held in Horncastle in June 2013. Our local council had recently withdrawn the recycling of kitchen vegetable waste from households, encouraging householders to home compost or dispose of the waste in the non recyclable bin. Preventing this vital natural resource from being "wasted" was the primary aim of the Louth Community Compost project.

To get started I attended a community composting course run by the excellent Community Composting Network held over three Saturdays in November 2013. The course was a rare, opportunity to learn about community composting within our region and was held at the impressive Arkwright Meadows community garden in the centre of Nottingham.

The person in the centre in pink is Karen Fry who did a great job of passing on the "knowledge".
To find out what Karen's doing now go here The gardening lady .

So armed with a basic composting qualification, the generous support of the 13+ project for the use of the Louth Youth Centre and with financial donations from Transition Town Louth and East Lindsey District Council (courtesy of Cllr Mike Preen) I decided to put some ideas into practice.

The first idea was to convert a 1000 litre agricultural water tank into a composting container. To keep the space needed on site to a minimum, it's essential to utilise "hot" composting. This means maintaining the compost heap at optimum temperatures for bacteria to rapidly break down the organic waste. The water tanks are free standing, long lasting structures that allow any liquid residue to be collected via a base tap.
They are easy to move around (when empty) and are tidier than the conventional wooden framed compost bin. The hope was that they would also deter vermin which was one of the first concerns of the near neighbours. The idea had definite advantages but would there be enough air circulating to ensure optimum composting? There was only one way to find out!

I cut out the top of the tank with a jig saw and ran a weather strip seal around the edge, which allowed the lid to sit back on the tank without falling through the hole I'd created. I then cut a rectangle porthole in the side of the tank to allow access for removal of the composted waste.
When in use the porthole panel is refitted and secured with pegs
I created a raised floor in the tank with a steel sheet drilled with a number of holes to encourage air flow and allow liquid to drain away from the compost.

I used some of the funding to purchase used equipment from the  Community Compost Network, this included a Bosch Electric impact shredder which would increase the surface area of the green waste and accelerate the composting process.

The second idea was to ensure a low carbon collection service by using my electric trike to tow a small trailer capable of pulling up to 150kg of organic waste.

So on the 12th June 2014 after canvassing local residents, I began the first LoCoCo collection.

Click here to discover how the 2014 collections went :)