Photo: Community leader finds indoor composting solution

By Aryne Sheppard

Building a sustainable future requires creativity and commitment. The Foundation's community leaders certainly embody these qualities. As part of our narrative contest called "Here's your chance to inspire David Suzuki", we asked them to tell us why they are committed to sustainability.
The following narrative was submitted by Madeleine Williams from Canmore, AB. Here's how she's inspiring the people in her community:

The Indoor Composter

I grew up in Central and Northern Alberta. My parents were avid composters and we grew most of our vegetables, using our own compost — the ultimate in recycling. All of our food and yard waste would go onto our enormous compost heaps, and every year we would plant in the spring using the rich compost that nature's miraculous little microbes had made for us.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to Canmore, Alberta to take my place on the National Cross Country Ski Team. Canmore is an incredibly beautiful town in the Rocky Mountains and has a lot going for it. We have easy access to fantastic wilderness and world-renowned parks. Unfortunately, our proximity to wildlife — the main concern being bears, of course — means that traditional outdoor composting is out of the question. Putting out food scraps is too much of an attractant, so Canmore actually has a bylaw prohibiting outdoor composting. This makes sense, the last thing we would want are habituated bears scouring the town for food; that wouldn't be good for their safety or ours!

After living in Canmore for seven years, though, I got tired of sending all my compostable food scraps to the landfill. I would then have to buy soil and compost for my garden. I looked into worm composting, but I live in a small house without a garage, so there really wasn't anywhere appropriate to put the worms, not to mention the fact that as an athlete there are periods of weeks or even months when I am away on the road; the poor worms wouldn't stand a chance. Finally, I found an option that would work. The Nature Mill composter is an indoor composter that doesn't rely on worms. It works simply by keeping the materials warm and mixing them regularly to speed up the natural microbial action, using only 1/3 of the power of one traditional light bulb to do all that. When I completed my undergraduate degree in 2009, my parents asked me what I would like for a graduation gift. My answer: an indoor composter! My father actually laughed, and asked me if I didn't want something a little more frivolous for this important gift, but the composter seemed perfect to me, it would allow me to do so much more for my environment.

I am now two years in, and the composter is going strong. It took a period of adjustment for sure, and convincing my housemates that cutting up all their scraps and saving them for me to add to my composter took some doing. Once the first loads of rich compost were ready for the garden, though, all critics were silenced; my friends and neighbours even started coming over to get my compost to use in their gardens. Now we all enjoy wonderful, organic produce right outside our doors, and no nutrient goes to waste!

August 2, 2011

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Aug 18, 2016
12:44 AM

Great article with informative post.Thanks for sharing.

Aug 02, 2011
6:20 PM

Great little article. I am an aussie living in Whistler B.C., missing my beautiful black compost from home. I tried my bokashi bucket but found raccoons (and no doubt bears to follow) were attracted to it. I am excited to give this one a go! Thanks.

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