Feeding the soil for future life

International Compost Awareness Week 2013 has now ended. From its start in 1995 in Canada, this event has now become part of annual awareness-building efforts for organics recycling and compost use in Australia, the UK, the United States, Ireland as well as across our country.

While every week is a Compost Week, reflecting the fact that organic residuals are created every day — whether in food production and consumption, through other life happenings as well as when gardens are active… the emphasis on the first full week of May is on “awareness” of the potential that compost offers to our environment, the health and vitality of our soils and in turn local food production as well as job creation.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Feed the Soil… COMPOST.”

Soil is the basis of life on our planet; everything and everyone draws strength from the productivity and health of our soil. And yet, it is largely ignored and more often than not, taken for granted.

It can take well over 500 years to create a couple of centimetres of soil, a composite material made up of different-sized rock and mineral particles as well as decomposed organic matter.  Annually returning organic matter, or compost, back to the earth provides the means to revitalize and condition the soil, helping to provide the structure and nutrients needed for plants to grow and flourish.

The development of organics recycling and composting has come a long, long way since our first Compost Awareness Week in 1995. Back then, there was a small band of people and organizations across Canada who were valiantly overcoming the many “No… it can’t be done” or “No… not now” that was the usual order of the day.

Today, organics are the number one material being recycled in Canada, and with over 40% of Canada’s waste stream being filled with organic material, there is a lot more to do before the job is done.

Sometimes the task ahead seems overwhelming and far too “uphill” — but then the gravity of people’s individual decisions kicks in every time someone “votes” by deciding to take their organic wastes to their own backyard composter or to be part of their municipality’s curbside pick-up program rather than having them buried in a landfill and creating all kinds of environmental negatives.

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, gets ready to use some compost

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, gets ready to use some compost

As part of our festivities last week, a special event was held in the backyard office garden of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller. Together with the Master Gardeners of Ontario, Landscape Ontario as well as local food and compost advocates, the garden and lawn was given a “soil-lift,” aerated and amended with compost created from GreenCart programs in Ontario.

This is just one of the many ways people are standing together “on firm ground” and declaring their love of the earth — by making compost and returning it to our soil.

About this guest blogger:

Susan Antler, Guest Blogger

Susan Antler serves as the Executive Director of the Compost Council of Canada, a non-profit, member-driven organization dedicated to the advancement of composting and compost usage across Canada. Susan has an MBA in Marketing from Queen’s University.

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