One of the big problems we have on our community garden is getting the compost heaps to rot down quickly enough to provide us with the compost we need to improve our soil, which is not very good. The months of dry weather, especially this year, mean that you have to make repeated trips to the stream to carry back water to pour over the dry materials of the pile. It’s very time-consuming, and not much fun in hot weather, so it often doesn’t get done. This results in a pile that scarcely rots at all, even after months. Well, this summer I’ve made a real effort to turn over the pile every couple of weeks and to give it a good soaking, and this is beginning to produce some useable compost.
However, we’ve often thought about how good it would be to have a community composting machine. All of the kitchen and garden waste that people have could be turned into compost instead of being dumped into the overflowing landfills; it would provide a few jobs for people; and it would provide invaluable compost for the local farmers, especially those who grow things organically. It might also go some way towards drawing people together in a common cause and building some sense of community in this disunited village. Tania Willis and myself wrote to government departments and the newspaper to give the topic an airing, but in order to get a grant to install a composter we really needed to be an official organisation, and at the moment we’re not.
So, it was with great delight that I heard from Mabel that the Outer Islands’ Women’s Association (OIWA) have actually applied for, and received, a grant for installing a community composter on their plot next to Mabel’s farm. They are now in the process of building the housing for it, and apparently intend to start collecting waste from the local estate, which I presume means Luk Tei Tong, and then branch out to take in the whole of Mui Wo. I’m not sure quite how they intend to do this: if they rely on people bringing it to the farm, I don’t think it will work, but if they employ someone to collect it, it should be a success. This is truly a big step forward for organic farming in Mui Wo, and the OIWA once again deserve a big round of applause for the excellent work they are doing here.