Learning from our friends down in Port Phillip, Melbourne
The trial of the community composting site at Dawkins Reserve has proven very popular. It's estimated that 50-60 households are using the bins, which puts them under a lot of pressure, requiring a lot of management (see Key Composters, below). You can help the bins work better by doing the following:
1. Chop up your veggies (microbes and worms will work on it faster).
2. Add in scrunched up newspaper as well (this provides air pockets and stops the pile becoming wet and smelly, as bins 3 and 4 are now).
3. Don't clog the bins with garden waste.
4. Keep the area around the bins tidy to keep our neighbours sweet (we now have a litter bin to put rubbish in).
5. If you see something that clearly should not be in the bins (plastic bags or other stuff that won't break down) please try and remove it.
A report and presentation will be submitted to council in March/April, with our recommendations for what should happen next. If the bins can't be managed by the community, they will be removed and suggestions will be made to council for alternatives for diverting organic waste from landfill.
Secondly, more help is needed. Alex has been doing most of the maintenance on the bins, but she will be travelling from 23rd Feb to 17th March and she will leave the area permanently at the start of June. So the following tasks will need to be done to maintain the bins if they are to stay:
a. When bins get full, the lids need to be switched with the resting bin lids.
b. Active bins need to be stirred once or twice a week. The stake is under the brown bin. Jab it into the contents, avoiding the side walls. Move it around in a circle and give everything a good stir. You will need to do this in the four corners of the bin. The stake can be wiped off with a piece of newspaper, scrunched into the bin before replacing under the brown bin.
c. Once a week, each bin needs to be drained so the bottom doesn't get wet and anaerobic. The taps are little buggers to turn, but they should be turned so the tab moves from 6 o'clock (closed) to 12 o'clock (open). Plastic milk containers work well as receptacles and often 10 litres at a time can be drained! Diluted 1:9, this makes great plant food and can be used directly on the garden or as a foliar feed (In the future this plant food could be used as a fund-raiser for composting materials like manure, straw and lime.).
d.When bins get full (like now!), they have to be emptied. The compost is not completely ready, but can be dug into gardens. If you know someone with a garden happy to do this, please arrange for them to pick up the material. It would be ideal for you to be there and help ensure that the hatches are replaced and then use the stake to give the scraps at the top a good stir so that they can drop down. A garden fork and waterproof fertiliser-type bags lined with newspaper are ideal for bin emptying.
e. Using the spreadsheet is becoming a good way of letting other key composters know about what is happening with mixing/draining/etc, so if you have time, do read through the comments and leave your own if you can.
The work on maintaining the bins is considerable for one person, but if you can recruit more people in the area to help, it won't take much time. Unless the bins can be maintained within the community, the pilot will have to end with the bins being removed. The composting team would love more people to get involved, make these bins YOURS and take ownership of them for this part of Elwood.
We look forward to any thoughts and suggestions you may have on the future of the Dawkins Reserve Bins.
The Community Composting Team"
To keep up to date with what they are up to down there check their wesite Community Composting Port Phillip.