‘Composting is like cooking’ says Surrey gardening guru

Event at KPU Surrey campus highlights the importance of composting

Alex Wilks, Surrey Now-Leader contributor

SURREY — Aspiring gardeners weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty at a free community composting seminar hosted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

A few residents keen to learn about the importance of compost, the role it plays in gardens and how to make their own compost at home attended the afternoon event in late July at the Westerman Campus Garden of the KPU Surrey Campus.

“I’m doing my teaching diploma through the Permaculture Institute and part of what I do is outreach and engagement,” explained “gardening guru” Linda Prai.

“This is the first workshop that I have had a full two hours with adults which is great.”

Prai and her class created basic compost in an aerated bin consisting of ingredients that can be found around the average home. Coffee grinds, egg shells, wood chips, shredded leaves and lawn clippings were a few items that she suggested to ensure a nutrient, enriched mulch to cover the soil after planting crops.

“Composting is like cooking. It’s a skill that you acquire over time,” she noted. “You can read lots of books but until you do it, it’s just going to be theoretical.”

Building a good soil takes time and dedication said Prai.

“We are what we eat. We are what the soil eats. We’re trying to put life into the soil.”

The City of Surrey offers composting alternatives for individuals that lack a green thumb.

Residents have been provided with household organics bins that allow food waste and biodegradable materials to be sorted.

They also sell backyard composters for just $25.

“The city is doing a great job because they are making sure [organics] are not going into a landfill and their taking the biogas and trapping it to use it to make compost on the side,” explained Prai. “It’s just important that the younger ages stay connected.”

Mairi Lester, with the Kwantlen Student Association that organized the event, said it’s important to help people build gardening skills and teach them about growing their own food.

“Composting is a big one,” Lester added. “It’s basically a free way to supplement your own garden so we wanted to provide people with an opportunity to learn that skill.”

The class also touched on other environmental issues, such as carbon footprints and climate change.

“Composting is one of the most important things we can do for climate change,” said Prai. “I found that giving up my car wasn’t going to be as powerful as changing what I eat, how far it comes from, how much meat I’m eating and am I locking up some carbon in my yard through the soil?

“If we’re taking away from the plants, how are we giving back to the soil?”


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