What do you get when you mix veg peelings, coffee grinds, some shredded cardboard, a bunch of year 6 eco heroes, a very enthusiastic former science teacher and real live tiger worms?
At Food for Life HQ we love getting out of the office for some soil-based fun. We were delighted to be invited to Bristol Cathedral Trust’s Green Teams Summit. Our mission – to bring sustainability and climate change to life through the awesome power of compost!
We asked groups of local primary school children what they thought made mud. Carbon, nitrogen, air and water – with a little help from bacteria and best of all, real live worms. Our young teams showed off some impressive science knowledge and inquisitive minds. Alasdair, our Senior Awards Officer, was in his happy place.
The highlight was getting hands on, with the children making their own composters out of 2l milk bottles cut in half. We gave them vegetable stuff to decompose, ‘brown manure’ (it’s not what you might be thinking – that’s where the cardboard fits in!) coffee grinds and the wonderful tiger worms. Who would be the first to pick up a worm? After the first brave hand went in, the rest soon followed!
Turns out they’re not as revolting as some first thought. They’re the composter’s best friend as they speed up the breakdown of plant matter and add extra nutrients from their poo. You can’t just dig up earthworms – those need to burrow through the ground. These red worms are happy staying put in a composter, which is why we use them. We talked about what to do if things get smelly, and what to do if it dries out. Our new composters were carefully carried back to the classrooms by their young guardians.
There is a serious reason why Food for Life gets children composting. Food waste contributes around 10% of the greenhouse gasses associated with climate change. When food is put in the bin, it becomes enveloped in plastic, and then buried under a vast mass of other rubbish in landfill. It doesn’t rot down, it becomes mummified. This creates the perfect conditions for anaerobic bacteria (the ones that don’t like air) which release methane – 28-36 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
When you compost, your veg waste creates new soil. This enriched soil actively stabilises carbon, as well as preventing methane production. Plants grow better in this rich soil, and their leaves capture carbon from the air. And what will they do with this fabulous compost? Grow their own delicious organic veggies and fruit to learn cooking with. That’s why, in the Food for Life Awards, we ask our schools and Early Years to show us that they’re composting.
We’re enabling children to shape the planet and take better care of themselves too. If you’d like to get your school or nursery composting, growing and cooking good food, the Food for Life Awards are for you. Get in touch to get involved!