Master composters meet at Holt

A growing number of people are realising the home composting is not just a load of rot - but can save money as well as the environment.

Changing lifestyles in a throw-away world and a trend towards smaller gardens had seen a decline in the household 'muck heap'.

But they are enjoying a revival fuelled by a combination of increasing eco-awareness, and a realisation that saving and reusing rubbish can provide a ready supply of soil-enriching material without the need to buy it from a garden centre or DIY store.

And a range of other gadgets and techniques are also enabling people to recycle refuse, such as food, that cannot be put on the traditional compost heap.

At the weekend part of Norfolk's 80-strong army of 'master composters' who promote the cause around the county gathered at Holt Hall's field studies centre to learn more about the methods at a training day.

Sessions included looking at a Japanese Bokashi method which makes cooked food suitable for composting by pre-treating it with an impregnated bran. They also explored wormeries, tumblers, and food digesters.

Trainer Jane Griffiths from the Garden Organic charity said there was nothing wrong with the normal compost heap, but the other methods enable even more items that would otherwise be sent to rubbish dumps, to be recycled.

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Composting was a 'magical process' and an increasing number of people were getting involved. Equipment and methods meant that people with small gardens, or even a flat with a balcony, could do their bit, which not only helped the environment but could save them money on bought compost.

The master composters team were given training and took their expertise into their communities through local sessions and raised awareness through publicity.

Norfolk Master Composter co-ordinator David Hawkyard said there had been a resurgence of interest in home composting, which was a lost skill.

There were about 50,000 compost bins around the county, each of which saved 120k of waste going to landfill every year.

Delegates at Holt even tucked into a cake -in the shape of a wormery - marking the master composters' milestone of helping 20,000 people in Norfolk since the scheme began in 2006.

Another training day is being held at Swaffham's EcoTech centre on March 11-12. More details from David Hawkyard on 01603 223328 or e-mail mastercomposters@norfolk.gov.uk