STAFF at South Hams District Council have underlined their campaign to recycle food waste.
In the seven years since South Hams District Council staff started recycling the leftovers from their lunchboxes around three to four tonnes of “good quality” compost have been produced for use in the council’s arboretum.
More recently the home produced plant ‘food’ - old tea bags, banana skins, apple cores, curry remains and other food waste – has been used to give the new Follaton community orchard fruit trees a healthy start.
Staff place all their food waste in the normal brown food caddies in their offices then empty them in a central wheeled bid within the main complex.
Staff then wheel them to the Follaton House composting area behind the walled rear garden adjacent to the arboretum. There they are first placed in a revolving drum, rather like a tombola drum. This gets the digesting process moving more rapidly. From there it is transferred into three bins – all at different stages of composting.
South Hams Greenspace Projects Officer Keith Rennells said: “It is generally very good quality compost.
"A few bits slip through the net – did you know that a lot of the stickers on apples are plastic, not paper, and thus don’t decompose very quickly? Plus you find the odd piece of foil or cellophane wrapping. But overall its good stuff, and is being used at Follaton by the many community groups who are actively involved in looking after the arboretum.
He added: “Last winter, a new community orchard, which included around 60 traditional varieties of apple, pear and plum tree, was planted on the lower slopes of the arboretum. The money for the trees was raised by local people, and the planting carried out by volunteers. These trees have been given a good start in life by being fed by our compost along with a new tree nursery”.
Councillor Rufus Gilbert South Hams Executive member for Environment Services said: “Our staff are very keen to practise what they preach – and what better way than turning leftovers into new sustainable growth to bring on an orchard that will be a lasting joy for the whole community for years to come.”
Volunteer Tree Guardian Richard Fairfax said: “One of the demands you face when you have a large area to cultivate is that it is really good to have compost readily available on the site. It is very useful to compost the food waste in the grounds and much easier for volunteers to wheelbarrow it to where ever it is needed on the site”.
Lots of South Hams schools are also composting their food waste in a bid to be more sustainable whilst providing an excellent educational resource.
If you would like your school to do the same and your children to gain from firsthand experience please go online
And there may even be some funding if you visit recycledevon online.