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Stand by your bins! Members of Hastings and St Leonards Community Composting steering group at the launch of their third hub: from left, Rhiannon Flood, Nick Sangster, Sam Struthers, Ursula McLaughin and, far right, Josh Brem-Wilson, with, second right, keen supporter Cllr Julia Hilton.

Community composters open third hub

Hastings and St Leonards Community Composting Group have launched their third hub, in central Hastings, and already have their eyes on a fourth, following an invitation to set up in Hollington, Here they will also get going on outreach work. Nick Terdre reports.

In late March, almost a year after founder members of Hastings and St Leonards Community Composting Group met to discuss how to make their bright idea a reality, the group inaugurated its third hub at the entrance to the Yard adjacent to Morrisons supermarket.

The bright idea is to bring composting opportunities to those who otherwise lack the facility people living in flats or residential blocks without gardens, who appreciate the benefits of recycling fresh organic waste. The first hub was opened last July in the grounds of St John the Evangelist church in Brittany Road, and the second in January outside Warrior Square station, both in St Leonards.

Several nearby residents have been signed up to use the new hub, and will be given an introduction in how to do so. The ideal number at each hub is around 40. A couple of monitors will be appointed to keep an eye on the bins and give the contents an occasional stir.

Hub no 2 at Warrior Square station.

The induction includes a guide to what can and what can’t be put in the bin. In addition to fresh veg and fruit waste, paper and cardboard can go in, along with coffee grounds and tea leaves as long as they are removed from the tea-bag. But not the contents of vacuum cleaner bags any more, as the presence of minute fragments of human skin is considered to make the compost unsuitable for vegans.

The Hastings and St Leonards Community Composting Group’s existence is becoming better known around town, and their next hub looks like being in Hollington, at the invitation of James Robinson, co-founder of Surviving the Streets. He wants them to set up a composting facility in the community garden he is planning to open there in May.

Outreach

As part of the launch the group will host a children’s workshop to explain the benefits and pleasures of composting, said Josh Brem-Wilson, one of the steering group of eight. It’s a welcome opportunity for developing outreach activities, which is also on their list of priorities. They will be seeking funding and looking for volunteers with experience in the field to work with them.

Mayor James Bacon, who opened the first hub, is a keen supporter of the group and as a school assistant has also expressed interest in helping to develop school contacts.

Another outreach avenue is inviting the participation of other groups contact has been made with men’s groups the Band of Brothers and Hastings Men’s Network who are interested in tapping into the mental health benefits of building the bins.

First production: compost nearly ready in the first bin at St John’s, aided by plenty of worms (photo: Rachel Holtom).

Each composting hub consists of three bins: when the first is full with organic waste, it is closed to allow composting to take place and the second opened for collection, and eventually the third. By the time the latter is full of waste, the compost in the first should be ready for distribution. The compost in the first bin at St John’s is nearly ready, and is looking good, with plenty of worms performing valuable work.

Both the Warrior Square station hub and the Yard hub have started with two bins, with the third to be added later.

Design adaptation

The bin design was copied from Brighton, where the community composting concept was pioneered and a network of some 40 hubs exists as part of the council-supported Brighton Food Partnership. But opportunities for adapting and improving the design have been identified, said Nick Sangster, another member of the steering group instead of using virgin wood for part of the bin, they are now completely constructed from spare pallets generously supplied by Skinners Sheds.

Stirring up the contents to facilitate the composting process, which in the original design is carried out through the open lid, has now been made easier and more effective by making the top plank at the front of the bin removable.

The initial financial means provided by Transition Town Hastings and Trinity Wholefoods to get the communal composting activity up and running will have been exhausted once the fourth hub is set up, said Sam Struthers, another member of the steering group. So the group, a small charity, is preparing to target new and larger sources of funding, including the Lottery, as it moves towards its target of establishing some 20 hubs.

Meanwhile it is looking for a permanent space to store its tools and materials, which are currently held at the Southwater Area Community Centre opposite Warrior Square station. It doesn’t need to be a big space or indoors, Sam said a gazebo-size area would be sufficient. And bin construction is easier done outside than in.

 

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Posted 16:25 Saturday, Apr 9, 2022 In: Grassroots

1 Comment

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  1. June Knight

    People create compost and then have so much they don’t know what to do with it.

    I discussed this with food initiatives, and organic growing projects and community plots and gardens. Who still buy compost in and have it delivered in bulk.

    Cannot an initiative be found where spare and extra home made compost can be picked up?

    Then distributed and maybe a great big compost hoppers be placed in areas where people can get it for free, take their buckets and sacks, open a sliding door and help themselves.

    My composters have loads and opened a builders sack full of weed and garden waste from last year and it was all pure compost. Too much for my little garden.

    How about that for an idea. Spare Compost Picker Ups.

    I am sure some bright spark with connections to the council can get a grant or funding for it.

    Comment by June Knight — Wednesday, Apr 13, 2022 @ 12:28

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