Aitutaki pupils learn all about composting

Tuesday June 06, 2017 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Vaitau Primary school pupils give the thumbs-up to the idea of composting, They’re pictured with Alanna Smith and school principal Nga Puna. 17060190 Vaitau Primary school pupils give the thumbs-up to the idea of composting, They’re pictured with Alanna Smith and school principal Nga Puna. 17060190

This weekly column is provided by Te Ipukarea Society. It discusses environmental and conservation issues of interest to the Cook Islands.


Te Ipukarea Society has continued its rollout of Earthmaker compost bins, with more compost training sessions held recently with primary school students on Aitutaki.

Both Araura and Vaitau primary schools received a new compost bin of their own, to practice composting and its benefits.

Project officer Alanna Smith made a presentation to each school in the hope of shifting old habits away from burning organic (natural) waste to instead composting this waste to create valuable compost.

Compost can be then used on fruit trees and vegetable gardens to increase their productivity and help them grow lush and green. The students then learned how compost was made through the process of decomposition (breaking down) where the sun, heat and aerobic composting all play an important role in making rich compost.

What organic material to put in and what not to put into a compost bin was also discussed. Students quickly learned that they were able to compost their grass cuttings from around the school along with weeds from the garden, fruit and vegetable scraps and even paper. Non-compostable material included meats, dairy, wheat products, plastics, food packets or rocks.

Next up for Te Ipukarea Society’s compost and worm farm training will be schools in the Northern Cook Islands. These training sessions will be combined with other projects due to the cost and logistical problems associated with getting to these remote islands. All schools in the southern group have now received a training session from the TIS team.

The Earthmaker compost system comprises three chambers, allowing for new organic waste to be added continuously and mature compost to be removed when required. Aerobic composting is also made possible through use of the Earthmaker bin, further accelerating the decomposition process.

Aerobic composting involves the decomposition of organic matter using microorganisms (tiny animals such as bacteria and fungi) that require oxygen. The microorganisms responsible for composting are naturally occurring and live in the moisture surrounding organic matter.

Composting is the most eco-friendly and user-friendly way to process food and garden waste. Sending organic waste to a central site means losing the nutrient value that can add value to your land. Carbon dioxide (a harmful greenhouse gas) is also created through the transportation and processing of waste.

If anyone in the community is interested in learning more about the Earthmaker compost system or Hungrybin worm farms, we encourage you to call at the Ipukarea Society office next to Bamboo Jack’s to see how the two systems work and get answers to any questions you may have.

The waste management project was funded by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) Small Grants Project, and is set to be completed by the end of this year.


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