During last week’ s Community Compost School Le Compostier took us on a tour of community composting projects in neighbourhoods and to innovative urban farms in the city.
During the first stop we heard from community composting pioneer Christien how she took the initiative to bring a worm hotel to her street in the Pijp neighbourhood. She told us how composting on the street with her neighbours is both easy and fun.
Next stop, the beautiful green oasis in Amsterdam Oost, Oost Indisch Groen, where volunteers Elco & Sameena showed us how they compost there.
After a cup of tea (thanks Sameena!) we were off to visit the community garden at Zeeburgereiland, where they have a worm hotel for composting used by over that holds 1400 litres of organic waste, making a lot of compost to grow food there.
Wouter Hassing then welcomed us to his urban farm Mycophilia located in Amsterdam Noord, where we saw his state of the art mushroom farm. We also got to check out his biomeiler which provides heat for the containers the mushrooms are grown in.
StadsOogst, a new urban farming cooperative in Amsterdam, are currently making Amsterdam’s first locally produced (& vegan!) garden soil using the substrate of Wouter’s mushroom production.
Thank you to all of the bikers who rode along & a special thanks to Le Compostier for organising such a special afternoon!
#communitycompostschool #urbancompost #greenlivinglab #stadsoogst
Marc Siepman introduced us to the diversity of organisms that make up the Soil Food Web & explained how this interdependent web is responsible for healthy plant life. From bacteria, algae, fungi & protozoa, to nematodes, earthworms, insects & plants, these organisms decompose organic matter, cycle nutrients, enhance soil structure & control populations of crop pests.
Marc explained how soil organic matter is made up of humus & active organic matter. Soil organisms work to convert active organic matter into humus & humus can hold carbon in the soil in a stable way for decades or even centuries. If soil is continuousy disturbed this interrupts the natural process of active organic matter being converted into humus & triggers some soil organisms to convert active organic matter to CO2. This CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere causing pollution, instead of being captured in the soil. Looking after our soil by adding organic matter & proper soil management is essential for a healthy local environment & local food system.
The good news is that we can all make a difference by converting our organic waste into compost & return this compost to the soil for local food production.
Mark introduced us to the important role of fungi in creating & maintaining healthy soil. We heard how fungi like to break down complex organic compounds in the soil including wood, fibrous plant residues & humus. Then mycologist Wouter Hassing told us more about the functions & incredible intelligence of fungi & mycelium.
Wouter is the founder of Mycophilia, a bio-technology R & D organisation that researches how mycelium & fungi can be used for environmental controls against pollution & to make healthy soil for local food production. Wouter & his partner Marijke also grow delicious shiitake & oyster mushrooms & offer grow-kits to grow your own mushrooms at home!
For more info see: www.mycophilia.nl
Thanks to Wouter for sharing the animated short film, Underground Market with us, by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) researcher Toby Kiers. This film provides a fascinating insights into the interaction & trading between fungal hyphae & plant roots. Toby’s research focuses on how cooperation between species evolves & how cooperation is affected by a rapidly changing world. For more info on her research please see: www.tobykiers.com
Wouter shared expert tips on growing fungi at home & gave everyone a shiitake mushroom grow-kit to take home & get growing. Did you know that mushrooms are still alive after they are harvested? Therefore keeping them in their preferred conditions ensures they stay fresh for longer & retain more nutritional value. Prolong the freshness of mushrooms at home by wrapping them in a wet towel & keep them in the fridge at a temperature of 2 degrees.
There is still time to participate in our Community Compost School programme. Look out for your chance to take part in upcoming events & workshops including;
28 October: The Community Composting Bike Tour with Le Compostier. An action-packed tour of community composting projects throughout Amsterdam where you will meet community composting pioneers in their neighbourhoods or in community gardens & get the chance to ask them questions to learn from their experience. You’ll have the chance to visit some of the most beautiful urban gardens in the city & taste some delicious local organic produce. Advance registration is required: firstname.lastname@example.org
11 November: The Circular Economy Hackathon! In collaboration with the circular economy consultancy Circle Economy, Enactus VU & local food waste initiative Taste Before You Waste, we invite you to ‘hack’ our local food system by thinking creatively about circular economy solutions.
More details coming soon!
With our education programme, The Community Compost School, we aim to inspire students, city residents & local businesses to think about how they too can convert their organic waste into value by composting.
We heard how healthy plant life & a healthy environment begin with a healthy soil & how important it is for us to look after our local soil, including the soil in the city.
Rowin told us about the growing phenomenon of Community Composting in Amsterdam, where city residents group together to place ‘worm hotels’ in their neighbourhoods or community gardens in order to convert their organic kitchen waste into compost. This compost can then be used to grow food locally. By turning waste into a useful, valuable product, the residents are not only adding value to their local soil & local economy, they are also preventing organic waste from being sent to landfill which can cause environmental pollution. By viewing organic waste as a resource for our urban food system, these circular economy pioneers are inspiring more community composting projects across the city.
Rowin informed us how vermicomposting, composting with worms, offers a fast, odourless & easy solution for composting in the city & he showed us how worm hotels work in practice. Course participants also got to make their own bucket worm hotels to bring home so they can start turning their kitchen waste into value.
We are looking forward to hearing how they get on living with their new worm housemates!
Green Student Bootcamp Challenge graduate Esti Colomer shares her experiences of learning about healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices at the Green Living Lab with fellow Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – International Students:
“Since I moved to Amsterdam last year, I was extremely surprised by the importance of sustainability and all the green initiatives that this city offers. I decided that I wanted to become part of this sustainability movement and I joined the Green Student Bootcamp Challenge. This was a 12-week program aimed to promote healthier lifestyle choices, to help students live more sustainably and put theory into practice. The Bootcamp was organised by the Green Living Lab (GLL).”
Students! There is still time to join our new education programme, the Community Compost School. This applied learning programme explores how we can work together to turn our organic waste into compost to grow food locally, how we can prevent food waste in the city, how to make healthy vegan meals & how jobs for students could be created by turning waste into value.
Contact us today to book your place: email@example.com
by Esti Colomer, VU International Student