Meet my Roomies, Red Wigglers!
As the first week of my internship at Taste Before You Waste started alongside the last preparations and the actual taking place of the exhibition A Moment Before, I found myself joining all kinds of tasks in order to get everything in place. Next to preparing food, installing the artworks, getting to know loads of people and simply giving a hand wherever it was needed, I was really lucky to attend parts of the lectures and workshops offered in the course of the exhibition days. I got an instant insight into the systematics behind food waste, a topic I had mainly looked at from consumer perspective so far, but which has so many interrelated dimensions that it really is an eye-opener to listen to experts in the field like Hilke Bos-Brouwers from Wageningen University. It was delighting to stroll around Dokhuis Galerie and look at the wonderful photographs of Uli Westphal & Klaus Pichler while reflecting on the messages they convey. For extra information, you could simply have a chat with one of the artists.
To me, the most remarkable experience of the two days was joining one of the workshops, namely »Composting« by Lea from the Green Living Lab in Amsterdam Zuid. Following a presentation on the theory of composting, we got our hands in the soil and simply built our own worm hotels out of two plastic buckets! The building process required way less time and material than I would have anticipated, but I must say that I was surprised by the number of “rules” required in order to make the worms happy and the outcome – dark, rich soil – perfect. The keyword of the whole process would be “balance” to me: If you only feed the leftovers from your “apple a day” and maybe coffee grounds to the worms day by day, they are probably not going to thrive. In order to make living together with worms as pleasant as possible – for both parties of course -, we learned about the best conditions and location for the hotel, which food is advisable and which not and so on. If you stick to the instructions and keep a good balance in the hotel, no bad odours arise at all. On the contrary, Lea explained to us that if it smells like forest soil, we could be sure to be doing everything right.
So now I have my own composting system in my little studio in Amsterdam, I would never have thought this only a few days ago. Even though I grew up on the countryside and my parents composted all organic waste in order to reuse it as fertilizer for the garden, I never really thought about the potential of the leftovers from all the fruit and vegetables I consume since I live in a city. I guess most people have heard about the bad state of the soil on our planet, due to overproduction and not giving it the time it needs to regain minerals, which leads to critical shortages of nutrients in all kinds of agricultural products. At the same time, tons of organic waste are being discarded every day and often burned together with all kinds of waste. With the help of a handful (literally!) of Red Wigglers, the most common and hungry composting worms, I can now contribute a tiny bit to the natural cycle by reusing these precious resources, even though it will probably only be enough for the plants on my windowsills and balcony.
I am very much looking forward to seeing how the worms are doing and if I can manage to gain composted super-soil from the inside of the old deep frying fat-buckets from Febo. If you are interested in learning more about composting with worms, you might want to take a look on Le Compostiers homepage.