I am currently volunteering in a temperate climate meditation center that host meditation classes and receive around 130 persons per course.
This generates a huge amount of food scraps.
( each week around 4 garbage bins like this one :
Currently those food scraps are getting collected by the local community waste disposal system where the food scraps end up being composted.
I think it's quice nice, but I wonder if we could do even better, I found it sad to give away all free organic matter.
Is there a better way tu use such a huge amount of food scraps ?
For the information the center is surrounded by small woods.
However as it is a meditation center, those food scraps would need to be disposed off in a neat, discreet way so that it doesn't create a distraction (visual or due to odors).
Furthermore the center is run solely by volunteers, thus with a huge turnover. So it would be nice if the solution was easy to sustain once implemented (well, like any other permaculture solutions :p) .
One solution I was thinking off but I am not sure it exists is the following :
I know that in the tropics people are making banana circles, is there an equivalent to those types of compost pits in the temperate climate ?
Option 1: If this is a regular thing, chickens would be great. They are omnivores and they don't mind it the food is spoiled. But if there are gaps between your classes, you'd obviously have to find alternative sources of food for them when there aren't scraps to feed them.
Option 2: If you've still got more scraps than the birds can eat, freeze the food scraps and then feed them to the birds as needed. If you are feeding 130 people at a time, do you have a commercial freezer?
Option 3: Establish a black soldier fly larva bin. Once you've got a healthy black soldier fly colony, you can feed the birds with some of the larva and then freeze the excess larva for a time when you don't have much else to feed them. (Google or YouTube will give you all the info you need on how to build a BSF bin). Freezing the larva would take a lot less space than freezing the food scraps, and then you could feed your chickens as needed. So on big weeks, half your food scraps could go directly into the chicken pen, and half into the BSF bin. BSF are 30% protean and 30% fat --- ideal chicken feed.
Option 4: Bury the food scraps in wood-chips: deeply. They will compost in about 4 months. Here is how Joel Salatin deals with the blood and guts from butchering animals. The key would be getting your pile hot enough to deter rats/vermin.
Option 5: If people will just not throw their meat scraps into the compost, most food waste is easily composted in a simple bin --- you don't need a big wood chip operation like Salatin as in that video. Get a couple of those black tumblers, and shredded paper from an office. Food scraps are high in moisture, so they'll get stinky if you aren't adding some extra carbon. Dump in the scraps, give it a turn, walk away.
Option 6: My favorite option: Pigs. Any local farmer who raises pigs would love to have your food scraps—they might even drive to you in order to get them. Could you trade food scraps for future bacon?
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Thank you Shaz, if it weren't for your post I would not have noticed Marco's great answer.
Marco's your answer is really helpful. I particularly like the option 5 cause the center's neighbor does have some pigs which we are feeding with some of our cooked food scraps.
In regards to raw food scraps we would have to see if they could eat it as well because it's a huge amount we're talking about here (it's a vegetarian service so lots of fruits and vegetables peels).
Love the idea about the chicken, but taking care of the chicken would require a bit of work and i am not sure the volunteer based center would be able to have enough volunteers for this task all year round.
Black Soldier Fly is totally new to me, thank you for introducing me to this.
For our 2 person household I use worms (vermiculture) to compost our food scraps. You cannot feed worms too much acidic scraps like orange peels. Dairy products and meat also are not recommended for worms.
That is why I am looking into bokashi where you "pickle" the food scraps for 2 weeks. It will then compost very fast by simply burying into the soil.
Bokashi uses Effective Micro-organisms but it is easy to make your own instead of buying.
EM Bokashi (full version) A 28 minute long commercial video explaining bokashi and how an American school implemented bokashi composting for their food waste.
How to make EM Bokashi (newspaper) (Just mute the loud irritating music )
Adriaan I would love to hear how your bokashi + vermicomposting system goes. Please keep us updated and post pictures if you can, should you decide to go this route. This day and age we assume that the answer to everything is on the internet already, but I am having a lot of trouble finding anything but a few anecdotal comments here and there, nothing very complete or well documented.
I'm trying to devise a pilot project for our town as proof of concept. They have been encouraging community composting, offering people who sign up multi-family traditional compost bins in a common area. But some people take care of their bins and some don't (e.g. aerating) so some bins have attracted rats, and few of them honestly are making high-quality compost.
So a few of us at the community gardens are suggesting a win-win: Start the community composting with bokashi , ferment, then throw it to the worms (saves the work of burying it in trenches), and the community gardens as a result get top quality worm castings in a fairly short time. The big benefit to the town authorities is that bokashi can handle meat and dairy and other things that aren't recommended in traditional compost, and plus, does not attract vermin.
Bokashi + vermicompost seems to work well from what several people say. But there are a few questions still in my mind:
1) Is it really fine to feed the bokashi straight to the worms, or is it better to throw in some shredded newspaper, or some ag lime, or sawdust to take the edge off the acidity of the bokashi waste?
2) What about bones, mollusk shells etc. -- what's the best way of dealing with them in this system? (We're thinking about running the waste through a grinder at some point)
3) How long does the process take from start to finish? In the summer? In the winter?
You may not have or be able to get answers to all these questions, but I'd love to see the results of your experiment if you go through with it.
And Eli, if you want to consider this option, it might work well in Burkina Faso too! You probably wouldn't have to worry about keeping your worms warm in the wintertime like we do farther north!
In the situation described, my first inclination would be black soldier flies. The larva reduce waste volume like no other processing method and faster than any other method. The larva themselves make great chicken feed and are sold commercially as feed for reptiles.
Go the easy way there are people who would love to pick the food scraps up for their animals or gardens. Find someone who raises pigs chickenor the like or does some market gardening.
You could even put a bin in the front were peole simply can grab.
Yes, I will document my bokashi efforts. There seems to be a personal project page for each permies forum member, but I have not figured that out yet.
I just finished fermenting 1 1/5 liter of rice wash water, way too much of course
Adriaan, I would suggest that you click on the linked word "composting" at the bottom left of this page, this will take you to the general composting forum's front page.
Then you click on "new topic" at the top right of the screen. Choose a good title, like "Our Bokashi plus vermicomposting project, making your own effective micro-organisms" and then describe your project!
Our local greengrocer knows about economy he's one of the richest persons in town. He saves himself thousands of dollars tip fees a year by simply putting a box in his yard were everyone can grab stuff for the animals. Ans it works like a swift people come with trucks and trailers.
Food scraps makes an excellent source of biogas and for newcomers to the idea of sustainability, nothing is more circular than seeing with their eyes, their own food scraps producing biogas that goes back to the stove that cooks more food and ultimately produces more biogas.
Feeding the food scraps to chickens would be a cool way to deal with them.
Black soldier flies will consume a huge amount of food waste if you want to get rid of it (it's more really efficient waste disposal because you don't end up with a lot after they've been through it).
Worm beds would turn the food waste into highly valuable worm castings.
We've been playing with the idea of a different kind of worm tube for garden beds where we get thick PVC stormwater pipe and run it for several metres horizontally in the bed planting next to the pipes. Add a few T junctions so you can add extra feed into the pipes.
Then fill the pipes with manure, paper, cardboard, food scraps and worms.
Haven't done this yet but it seems like a cool way to fertilize and water a high value vegetable bed without a whole lot of work.
Might just be a crazy idea.
It runs on an internal combustion engine. This ad does not: