Christophe's Compost Corner: Weekly Update August 11

The Worldwatch Institute just published its State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability. The mission of the Worldwatch Institute is to  bring about a sustainable future that meets human needs as soon as possible. Some of the goals of the Institute are access to renewable energy, to nutritious food, transition from consumerism to sustainability, healthy and intentional childbearing. 

One of the sections in the report addresses the problem of knowledge and behavior. Here is a quote: “The existing ecological literacy, or ecoliteracy, model of simply addressing the knowledge deficit rather than addressing the real issue of behavior deficit has tended to yield highly knowledgeable individuals who despite their understanding fail to take action” 

At Frog Hollow Farm, I think we are doing a good job of linking ecoliteracy (what we need to understand about the life support systems of the planet)  to action-driven thinking. 

Slowly but surely we are addressing the drought problem by creating the best possible thermophilic compost that is applied to the orchard in order to amend the soil and to create a soil structure that will hold more water. We use technology in an efficient way (a windrow turner that helps us keep the piles moist without wasting water) and we monitor the biology that affects the quality of the compost. Almost every week, the biology and the temperatures of the windrows are monitored.

This week two 100 feet windrows are being “trommelized,” i.e. the worms are separated/sifted from the vermicompost using an apparatus known as a trommel (Watch the video below to understand the process). An analysis of the biology is also being done. These two windrows contain about 16 tons of vermicompost. The vermicompost is only applied in problem areas because there is a limited amount of vermicompost at this time. 

Frog Hollow Farm produces its share of used motor oil due to its fleet of trucks and vans.  An experiment will be started soon using thermophilic and vermicompost to see if we can remove and remediate the hydrocarbons. Research, both recent and historical, has shown that the microorganisms in compost are effective bioremediation tools, especially in the presence of large and diverse amounts of fungi.

Ecoliteracy requires not only knowledge of science but also includes nature-induced attachment to place and ethical, cultural and political dimensions. I think that at Frog Hollow Farm we have a fundamental connection with the natural world, science, sustainable business and culture (CSA members). 

Author: Christophe Kreis MLF Soil Consulting PhD, Molecular Biology/Developmental Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada. Christophe is co-founder of MLF Soil Consulting with his wife Monique. He started his career in basic medical research and after various positions in academia and industry Christophe slowly returned to his first passion Soil Ecology and Microbiology. It is his belief that human health is tied intimately to soil health through the production of healthy food. For this reason MLF Soil Consulting is committed to help farmers improve the management of their soil through composting, vermicomposting and biological analysis of microbial soil life.

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