Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

As summer heats up - so does the compost

Why compost? Wildsight teaches Cranbrook students


Picture this: an apple core tumbling into a garbage bin. For dedicated composters, this everyday moment turns into a slow-motion tragedy, as that apple core could be much more than a waste of space at the landfill - it could be compost gold! The Wildsight Cranbrook Composts Project has been sharing the joy of composting at local schools and community events to inspire others to compost and to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill.

The Wildsight Cranbrook Composts Project was at the Kootenay Children’s Festival and the East Kootenay Regional Science Fair, teaching children not just about composting, but also about sustainable food. Students from all over the Kootenays saw backyard and worm composting examples, and made their own edible compost by layering dried fruit, pretzels, bran flakes, and topping with a gummy worm. “It was wonderful to hear that some schools, such as TM Roberts and Gordon Terrace are already composting or plan to start, and are keen to start and maintain a school garden,” said local project coordinator, Nadine Rake.

More than 200 Grade 7 and 8 students from Parkland Middle School and Kootenay Christian Academy took part in hands-on composting lessons that fit right into their school curriculum. Each class contributed to building a compost pile with food scraps collected from the school and yard waste. "It was really energizing to talk about compost with that age group. They totally get the concept of decomposition, and they easily make the connection with waste reduction. I think they are ready to take on the challenge of maintaining a compost system, either at home or at school," said Wildsight’s Jessica Windle.

At Amy Woodland School, students from Kindergarten to Grade 4 took a scientific approach to composting by building a compost pile and then recording changes throughout the composting process. “Students at that age love composting! They were keen to build the pile with food scraps and yard waste and to keep it well stocked,” said Rake, “and they really enjoyed digging through the active pile to see compost in action.” Students even studied their own personal compost jars and kept observation logs of the breakdown process. “It was inspiring to see how many hands went up when I asked the classes ‘Who composts at home?’,” said Rake, “Once you make a habit of composting, you’ll keep doing it. Judging by the positive response so far, I think we’ll see a lot more compost habits developed this summer!”

The Cranbrook Composts Project will continue throughout the summer and into the next school year, bringing compost education and fun to as many residents as possible through public workshops, and school presentations. Wildsight is working to bring a Master Composter Workshop to Cranbrook and will also be improving the existing compost system at the Cranbrook Public Produce Garden. To top it all off, they are also compiling a local home composting guide with step-by-step instruction for those who want to start composting or revive an old compost pile out back.

“We’d love for people, compost novices and compost experts alike, to get involved in the project,” said Rake. Nadine Rake can be reached at or by calling 250 427 2535.

Editor's Comment
As a life time composter myself, I thought it important to mention that in our colder climate, caution is required with some kitchen food scraps such as meat and bones because unless the pile reaches a high temperature these materials will not break down well enough.  I have never added them to my compost bins although I know some do. The odour can also be very attractive to critters (large and small) not welcome in a garden!  I add all the paper from my paper shredder and sawdust from the workshop and these work well to aerate and balance the mix especially when mixed with the grass clippings.

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