Like the proverbial pig in muck, I’ve taken a genuine liking to jumping in the compost bins at the Castle during my garden apprenticeship. It’s a place to witness first hand the circle of life as scraps from the cafe and climbers rots and turns magically into dark rich compost that we then use to grow delicious new vegetables in.
Despite reaching temperatures as high as 75 degrees, the compost bins are full of life, with thousands of worms, woodlice, earwigs, spiders and other insects getting down to business amongst fungi that helps to break down the food waste into nutrient rich compost. I recently found a family of mice nesting in the warmth, and our resident frog population is making use of the ecosystem eating any flies that emerge.
It’s brilliant to see the castle’s food waste being used efficiently, keeping it within the food chain instead of being sent to landfill. When I’m not working as an apprentice, I work for an environmental organisation called Feedback who campaign against food waste. Every day we come across colossal amounts of food going to waste across the supply chain. This leads to a total waste of natural resources that have gone into producing this food in the first place, placing an ever-increasing strain on the planet and our own food security.
Ultimately food waste is a symptom of over production and we need to reduce how much food is being produced as a priority. In the Castle garden we work closely with the café to make sure they know what produce we’ll be supplying them with, and we use a range of preserving methods to store surpluses and gluts. Anything that can’t be eaten (residual plants for example) is composted along with the scraps from the castle to be incorporated into the next growing cycle.
Every year The Castle run an apple and pear gleaning project, helping London residents harvest abundant fruit trees that would otherwise go to waste. On Saturday 17th October we will be pressing the fruit into delicious juice that will then be used in the café and during garden events. All of the pulp from the fruit will then be composted with straw and cardboard to be used again in the garden. If you have any surplus fruit or would like to learn how to make your own juice and cider, come on down and join in! (from 10am).
I (Edd, author of this blog piece) will be running a FREE composting workshop on the 1st November, so if you’re interested in learning how to make the most of your own kitchen scraps to make nutrient rich compost in which to grow your vegetables, come down and get stuck in!