Community Composting: Collaboration and Cohesion

by Anna de la Vega

During these challenging times community composting has the potential to play a key role in maintaining healthy community networks, and provides a source of invaluable nutritionally dense fertiliser and compost for community use, helping to empower local food production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver regenerative organic waste management solutions. Whilst the practical outcomes of community composting are evident,  it is the demonstrative power of the collective, sharing resources to seed the foundations for new life to spring.   Collaboration and cohesion could not be more important during these troubling and uncertain times we find ourselves in.

Community worm composting at Ahmadiyya Mosque, Sneinton, Nottingham, 2020.

Not long before the first lockdown in March The Urban Worm started to trial Love & Compost, a community composting initiative, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. Working in partnership with Bestop kitchen, a social eating café at Bestwood church  who work in partnership with one of our favourite social enterprises Pulp Friction CIC, a wonderful organisation providing training and employment for young adults with learning difficulties. Bestop Kitchen provided 80 meals a week, bringing the community together using surplus food from the charity Fareshare. Every week beneficiaries would bring their kitchen waste to feed the community worm farms, which will be used to build the foundations for the church garden.

Bestop Community Cafe, Bestwood Church, Bestwood, Nottingham, 2020.

The site houses  10 x 240 litre wheelie bin worm farms and Bokashi composting is used to effectively manage cooked waste, not so favoured by the worms.  As restrictions were brought into place unfortunately the project had to be put on hold but Bestop are continuing to feed the community, delivering 80 home meals every week, and 5500 have been delivered so far, and the worms are being kept well fed too.

Our second community composting site is a partnership between Ahmadiyya Mosque and Iona School, the two communities are neighbours and share 2 x 1100 litre wheelie bin worm farms. As the school as not providing cooked food parents bring waste to the worm farms, and the mosque were bringing waste every Friday. Unfortunately as worship is still prohibited due to restrictions the project has reduced in size, but we hope to get back to normal as soon as we can.

Whilst community initiatives have certainly taken a hit, we can focus on our immediate community, our neighbours. Starting a community composting project on your street is a great way to connect with neighbours, building relationships and resilience. No matter how small your community composting network, your contribution is making an invaluable positive impact. Rotting food waste emits the harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) methane and nitrous oxide which are 31 and 310 times stronger than carbon dioxide.  Managing food waste in our locality not only keeps rotting waste out of landfill, it helps reduce reliance on fossil fuel dependent vehicles, and ultimately provides a local source of fertiliser and compost for community use. With the fear of food shortages and rising prices localised production of nutrient dense food will be imperative, and food production starts with compost production.

Communities are permitted to worm compost up to 6 tonnes of organic waste per year under a T26 waste management exemption, and for hot composting up to 30 tonnes under a T27 waste management exemption.   If you would like any support in starting a community composting initiative on your street, or in your community get in touch and we will endeavour to assist where we can. If you are looking for a small amount of funding to get started local charitable foundations are a good place to start, for Nottinghamshire residents Nottingham Community Foundation are a beacon of support and have rolling pots of funding for voluntary and charitable organisations.

Bestop Community Cafe, Bestwood Church, Bestwood, Nottingham, 2020.



Worms & Peace