KAREN CANNARD: Learning from the masters...
Would you like to learn more about an easy way to reduce waste, meet like-minded people and help others in your local community?
If yes, then you might be interested in joining the next Master Composter course that’s taking place at Lackford Lakes on March 27-28.
Master Composters are community volunteers who, in return for free training and support, act as composting ambassadors in their local community.
The scheme has been going in Suffolk since Autumn 2007, with more than 100 volunteers having been trained since. You don’t need to be a keen gardener or have any former knowledge of composting, as all the information will be provided during the sessions.
Being more of a ‘drop and run’ kind of lass when it comes to home composting, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge. I love the ‘magic’ of composting but I’m keen to know more. However, prior to joining the course in March I wanted to find out about volunteer commitments and what being a Master Composter really means. So what better way than to chat to an existing volunteer in the form of David Wright who, based in Tuddenham, has been volunteering for almost eight years.
David first found out about the scheme through his Garden Organic magazine – the organisation that manages Master Composters nationally – and was delighted to discover that Suffolk County Council was supporting it locally.
“But I’m not typical,” he tells me. “Over the years I’ve met many people from many backgrounds and you don’t have to be a gardening expert.”
“The training days are excellent,” he adds. “They include an overview of the county’s waste issues and how composting helps. There’s also a visit to the council’s composting facility in Lackford and advice from Garden Organic.”
“You get all the information that you need to help you be confident in talking about composting to friends and family, as well as at events. Often people are interested in composting but don’t know where to start. That’s where volunteers in the community can help.
“Once it becomes a habit and way of life for people, it is easy, especially when they see the benefits of enjoying free compost for garden beds and hanging baskets. nd if questions come up that you can’t answer, you’re not on your own. There are always experts to help you from the existing network of Master Composters, Suffolk County Council and even Garden Organic’s advisory service for the more technical questions.”
I was also reassured that when it comes to volunteering, you can really match the activities to your particular skills, whether it’s writing about composting for a local magazine, talking to your neighbours or attending local events. And there’s no rush to squeeze in the required volunteer hours. You can take it at your own pace.
David has found his work with schools particularly rewarding and has recently helped Abbots Green Community Primary School install their Hotbin, which helps turn some of the school’s food waste into compost that can be used in their garden. He is also a guest speaker at assemblies and helps Eco Clubs understand more about making compost. In recent years he’s noticed a greater trend in school’s growing their own fruit and vegetables, therefore the interest in composting has also increased.