A woman in South Canterbury offers a practical pedal-powered alternative to the lack of curbside compost collection.
Twizel resident Coraline Scully started the Compost-Bike, a household food waste collection service in the Town of Mackenzie District, bringing the leftovers back to her garden to create compost before making the resulting compost available of all.
Scully and her husband have been in Twizel for just over a year, moving south after the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
“We love it here. We used to live in Wellington, but I’m not a city dweller and really wanted to be in the mountains, ”said Scully.
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The couple remodeled the garden from bare grass, built garden beds and compost bins, adding a greenhouse and a chicken coop.
Scully, from Belgium, is taking an online permaculture course and has seen the idea of collecting compost by bicycle popping up all over the world.
“I found this to be a really cool way to pick up food scraps and help people who don’t have compost but want to avoid dumping their food scraps.
She pitched the idea with a Twizel community group earlier in the year to gauge interest and got a strong response.
The Mackenzie District Council helped with a small grant just as the second lockdown began in August.
She bought a used bike and after posting about the need for a bike trailer, someone from Ashburton offered her one that needed a little work and with help from the local hardware store, she quickly put it into operation. .
Scully has 18 registered so far, which she says is a good number to start as she gets used to her tours and learns more about the capacity of her composting system.
She provides each user with a bucket to fill with leftover food and put in their mailbox.
On a predetermined collection day, she travels a route on her personalized bicycle compost collector which is equipped with a 90-liter box. It makes two laps of the road because once the container is three-quarters full, it is heavy to tow.
Scully estimated that she collected around 60 liters of leftover food on each trip, which she then towed to her garden where she built three large compost bins.
She said the route is fairly easy as the vans have so far been fortuitously grouped together. Scully, an avid skier and walker, appreciates the extra exercise to help her stay in shape.
She said she is introverted by nature, but the concept of permaculture is all about connecting with others and building community, encouraging her to find a way to express herself.
“The compost bike is a great way for me to start connecting with people and talking to them about permaculture without feeling too overwhelmed. “
She said she had strange looks and inquiries about what she was doing and that she hopes to get signage for the bike and trailer in the future.
Scully hasn’t always had a green thumb.
“It came slowly – my mom was always passionate about gardening, and once I started traveling and stopped eating fresh home vegetables, I realized how much I wanted to have access to good food and a beautiful garden. “
This is where his permaculture journey began, but Twizel is his first major garden project.
She hopes that within three to six months the compost will be available for collection and that everyone is welcome to collect it for their garden in exchange for koha.
“It’s a way to connect people who don’t have compost or a garden with those who have a garden and who never have enough compost. “
Scully said connecting people and communities is part of permaculture ethics.
She wasn’t sure if the concept would be well received, but she’s happy with the response, especially since she’s done very little promotion.
There were, however, a few minor startup issues with what people put in their bins.
“The first week I really had a problem with the fruit and sometimes meat stickers. I posted a few reminders on social media and switched to leaving individual notes in buckets.
She reaches out to vacation homes and is happy to bypass arrivals and departures, as well as planning to lecture on service to local groups of seniors who may not be as active online.
Non-Twizel residents are encouraged to put leftover food in the trash cans at her home, and she hopes to expand service to restaurants in the future.
Scully said she was happy her role was usurped if composting options in the Mackenzie improved.
“I know the council is trying to have green bins on the curb, if my role is no longer needed and there is a better solution that works for people, I am very happy. It would be great to have the ability for everyone to have easy access for composting.
According to the waste reduction organization Love Food Hate Waste, 157,389 tonnes of food is landfilled in New Zealand each year.