I love compost!

You may have noticed that I tend to get pretty excited about composting.  It’s pretty cool to see food scraps being turned into amazing soil for the garden, and also keeping those scraps out of the landfill. And it’s just such a great educational tool: environmental awareness, biodiversity, life cycles, ecosystems, soil health… So many topics can be explored!

So one of my challenges with this excitement is figuring out how to pass on my compost excitement to my students.  Last week we had an Earth Day assembly at Blake school, where I did a short presentation with the aim to get the students excited about the new compost programme we’re setting up at the school.  I’m way more used to working with smaller groups of students, doing hands-on activities with them, so I was a bit nervous about giving a presentation to the whole school.  I wanted to get across some information about the project without just standing there and talking, and I also had to make it accessible and relevant for kindergartens to grade 6s.  I ended up starting with a little talk about the waste audit we did a few weeks earlier (more on that later), and then did a little compost presentation where I had some kids come up to be different compostables or compost critters and act out the action in a compost pile, and then showed them some finished compost (from the worm bin).  It went pretty well, and most of the kids were pretty engaged.

The Blake compost programme is part of a bigger Waste Diversion project that we’ve been working on a the school.  The school is in the process of trying to become a TDSB EcoSchool for the first time, which is really exciting.  The EcoClub has been working on monitoring how all of the classes are doing in terms of waste sorting.  And at the end of March, I did a waste audit with the EcoClub kids.  The audit consisted of taking a sample of garbage and recycling from a couple of classes and the staff room, and seeing how well the school is doing with waste sorting.  We found that, generally, the school seems to being doing pretty well with putting recyclables in the recycling bins and garbage in the garbage bins.  There’s always room for improvement, of course, but generally I was impressed!  We also found that there’s A LOT in the garbage that could be composted, which makes me really pumped about starting the compost programme – there’s a potential for diverting quite a lot of waste.

So for the past few months, I’ve been working on getting the new compost system started. Though I feel I have a pretty decent grasp of composting itself (always more to learn, though), starting a compost system at a school is new territory for me.  I’ve been researching all sorts of school compost systems, reading a bunch of information online, meeting with lots of folks who have done similar projects, etc.  A couple of the online resources I’ve found are: School Composting: A Manual for Connecticut Schools and Create Your Own Eden.  We’re planning a pilot for the next couple of months, where we’ll have two classes testing some stuff out and doing some troubleshooting, and then the plan is to get the school-wide composting started in September.  I’ll write updates as the project progresses.

And to finish off on the topic of compost excitement,

Garden Journals: I heart compost.

it seems my enthusiasm is wearing off on at least some of the students.  At the first Garden Club meeting at Withrow, I had all of the kids tell us one thing in the garden that makes them happy.  One of the girls (totally not prompted by me) said that she loves compost.  And then on the cover of her garden journal, she drew a compost bin in a heart. Amazing. 🙂

Happy growing!

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