‘Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?’ Well my garden seems to do its own thing very well. It might not be what I planned or wanted but nature strives on to find its own balance. I intervene so I can grow the vegetables and flowers I like, trying to work with nature to avoid unnecessary labour and effort – which are in short supply.

I started growing vegetables in 2000 with differing degrees of motivation and success. I am definitely a ‘live to eat’ rather than an ‘eat to live’ kind of person. Trying to grow some of my own in the little space I had seemed to make sense.  My neighbour thought allotments were a waste of time and money; but she couldn’t see the added benefits of growing community and knowledge, alongside knowing how and where your food has grown.  

I realised that having my hands in and around soil was good for my mind, body and soul. When later I lived somewhere with small children and a small paved garden, I filled it as much as my budget would allow with plants in pots. I couldn’t seem to live without this contact with the growing plant world, and wanted to share it with my children. But the cost of the compost was high. I was glad that Lancaster had a food collection scheme as my small children created plenty of food waste. But all that food waste was taken away, if there had been a community compost scheme it could have stayed local and I could have made use of the compost created. 

Gardeners often talk about plant food and fertilisers to make healthy plants. When I was studying horticulture, I learnt that it is the soil that needs feeding and looking after. In turn the soil gives the plant all it needs. Producing black gold (compost) from what we normally put in the bin seems so obvious. Compost benefits the soil and the plants that grow in it and it means food and garden waste do not end up in landfill to release the potent greenhouse gas – methane. Using compost can also mean growing tasty veg from veg peelings via the compost bin – a perfect closed loop.

If you want to know more about composting your food waste please get in touch. The new FoodFutures project Closing Loops will be resourcing community composting around north lancashire.  There will be training and composting sites established. Contact diana_cl@lessuk.org




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