Discovering the compost and the composting process

Composting plays a key part in ecological gardening, as a way to greatly improve the structure and the richness of the soil of the garden, thus improving the bacterial cultures. However composting is often not really understood, even in our collective/shared urban gardens, but there are plenty of activities to help make the process better known. Here are some ideas to consider.

Objectives

Objectives of the Good practice 

  • To give a better knowledge of compost and the composting process.
  • To raise awareness about environment, ecology, waste disposal.

Objectives of the leader who implements this practice with the public

  • Contribute to the knowledge of the beneficiaries.
  • Make gardening more effective.
  • Contribute to waste reduction.

Objectives of the Grundtvig Program of education throughout life to which this activity is connected:

  • Helping people from vulnerable social groups:

Because the practice can contribute to the environmental education of everybody.

Possible educational objectives:

  • Knowledge: compost, composting, invertebrates, alimentary chains, organic cycle of life (carbon cycle), recycling policy, separated sorting of rubbish…
  • Skills: composting, using compost in gardening.
  • Behavior: citizenship and respect of environment.

Materials

For the activity (depending on activity implemented):

  • Compost bin,
  • organic rubbish,
  • sample of compost at different stages of the process
  • compost thermometer,
  • list of recycling rubbish in your area,
  • documents (e.g. about rubbish cycle, time of degredation for different kind of rubbish, list of rubbish fit for composting, pictures of compost fauna…).

For the participants: nothing specific

Implementation

To help people discover compost and composting, different activities can be considered, for example:

Discovering the composting area and composting bins:

  • Visit and observation, utilisation of pictures and internet resources to show other composting system.
  • Observing (sight, smell, touch) the compost at the different stages.

What to put inside the compost:

  • Card game with drawing/pictures of different rubbish.
  • “Fake” bin to sort out with clean real rubbish or toys.
  • Pairing card game rubbish /time needed for proper degradation.
  • Lists and questionnaires.

The compost process:

  • Carbon cycle, comparison with forest soil.
  • Experiences of degradation of different rubbish buried in the ground (tree leaves, twigs, plastic, paper, vegetable peeling, glass, metal…).
  • Berlèze apparatus.

The compost invertebrates

  • Observation and sorting of compost and litter samples (in white plastic containers, easier to observe, with for example plastic spoons to catch the animals).
  • Observation with magnifying glass and binoculars.
  • Showing pictures of the different stages of development of the animals when existing (eggs, larvae, pupae, juvenile forms, adults as appropriate).
  • With children to mime the different animals and their interactions.

Evaluation

Depending on the activities implemented ideas for evaluation could be :

  • Commentaries by participants.
  • Questionnaire game about what to put inside the compost.
  • Questionnaire about the invertebrate in the compost.
  • Observation of changes in gardening/composting habits inside the garden.

Tips