My first compost exchange

Compost exchange Sydney

I recently started a compost exchange.

Very few councils in the Sydney area offer curbside food scrap collection, making it tricky for people who live in apartments to compost at home, for lack of a convenient drop off spot. They will, eventually. In the meantime, I’ve set about solving a problem I have and suspect others might too.

I thought it would be difficult to recruit people to take organic scraps from strangers based on the yuck factor, the potential for gardeners to want to avoid contaminants, or feel burdened. I was surprised at how easy it all was to get a number of initial responses from community gardens and some individuals.

My first exchange meetup

I posted my suburb and need (dropping off) to get things going. C responded quickly and lives close by. We arrange the drop by private message.

When I meet C, she is the perfect host. I ask her if she’s heard of the Bokashi method of composting, and she laughs and tells me she knows all about it and it’s fine, and to come on to the backyard where her composter sits.

C’s garden is pure magic.

My eyes must have gone wide, because she starts to explain what the different plants are and what they are for. She points out a tree here, a bloom there, and exotic sounding herbs. I am introduced to pomegranates, sandpaper figs, elderflower, pineapple sage, butterfly bush, kumeras, lemon myrtle and tree tomatoes.

Tom-AHHH-toes she says with a laugh at the way I pronounce tomatoes. Neither of us is originally from Australia.

I could have lingered for much longer. I wanted to soak it in, take pictures, write it all down.

But back to the reason I was there. I add my bin contents to her regular black compost bin where it will transition from anaerobic to aerobic. C adds some leaves and branches on top for a balance of browns. Soon the worms will move in to feast on the pre-digested matter.

She tells me to come back whenever I need to. I leave with a large handful of branches and herbs.

I gave her my organics scraps, and she gave me her time, her space, her knowledge (and a giant handful of garden bounty). It worked better than I expected. That was a few months ago now, and I’ve since been back.

Just as healthy soil is a rich, diverse community, so too is our human one. Will you join?

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