The Compost Education Centre, an initiative of the city of Victoria, opened to teach and encourage residents to compost their yard and kitchen waste as a means of landfill diversion.
The course I took in 1995 was led by Stephanie who held a masters in Botany Science (or something closely related), which made her the expert on how to make things rot scientifically.
We learned the process of decomposition with all the various ratios, rates and ingredients to produce great compost. We were taught the exacting methods of ‘3 stage bins’, burying technique, barrels and even vermaculture for those wishing to gain high quality potting soil in their apartments.
The Centre was located on an allotment garden site in Fernwood where locals would tend to a delicious variety of colourful plots.
Once, we got a hot compost going—120 degrees Celsius—and cooked up some hot dogs and veggie dogs!
When our class was sufficiently versed in the merits and techniques, we were required to spread the word at community events as a requirement to receive our “Master Composter” certificates.
I extolled the merits of decaying ones organic refuse at the Saanich Fair, to neighbours and even at the old folks’ home I managed nights and weekends. As the daytime Director of Activation, I thought composting with red wigglers would be a unique endeavour.
Getting the somewhat eager residents to shred newspaper, see live worms in action and to once more run their fingers through soil would be just the ticket.
And it was! Yet, when one gentleman decided to taste the earth before him, I realized an assistant would have been wise! Some years later, I reflected that the aged man was simply attempting to acquire some minerals which were lacking in his institutional diet.
As Earth Day approached, our fearless leader explained how in the previous year’s parade, the class had made a paper mache, 22 foot long replica of an earthworm! She described how they slung the creature and marched along with other lovers of this earth.
As a neophyte, born again, back-to-the-earth kind of guy, I protested that the mighty worm shouldn’t be a mere two feet off the ground. “Without bees, spiders, beetles, ladybugs and worms, we would all be dead.”
Instantly, I proposed having the lowly worm elevated that year for the Earth Day Parade and I commenced to gather sticks from the beach and wooden ‘disposable’ produce containers. From these items, I made a ‘V’ cradle mounted on top of four foot stakes to carry the effigy of the garden’s hero and friend.
It worked well. With Stephanie leading our delegation, we marched through downtown Victoria and on a rehearsed command we hoisted our beloved 22 foot model worm to a soaring nine feet height. What a spectacle!
One more thing. At the Centre and victory garden, I got to know an interesting fellow. His garden plot had a neat driftwood sculpture centrepeice from which a crystal hung.
He confided that his mother had taught him to revere the magic and beauty of a garden. He would take a moment at the season’s start and say a blessing of gratitude to which he added an acknowledgement to all the insects. He welcomed them to his plot and said, “you may visit my garden but please do not eat my produce”.
And, dear reader, it worked! While others were constantly battling the bugs, he had made peace with them.
But wait. There is more and I know this bit of info is a little “out there” but there is, in my opinion, a scientific probability of validation.
With no insects munching on his zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, etc., the gardening dude took one more action — value added one might say. He saved his urine and like a fine wine-like nutrient, he watered the soil surrounding his edibles. I kid you not.
The explanation was simple. He believed that when he finally consumed that tomato, it would recognize him as it now carried his DNA markers and would thus be more readily absorbed and utilized as his body would be in harmony with the cellular configuration.
A bit of ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ or holistic genius? You decide. Ommm.