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Surprisingly, Science World has emerged as a new leader in composting in downtown Vancouver.

Author of the article:

Brian Minter

Publication date:

03.09.202150 minutes ago3 minutes read Join the conversation Science World's new composting system is now operational.Science World’s new composting system is now operational. Photo from Science World /PNG

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We will see an early avalanche of falling leaves, dead twigs, and tired foliage in our ornamental and dining gardens as they finish their growth cycle. So what are you going to do with all of this organic matter?

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City and town pickups are somewhat convenient, but not the best way to go. Home composting is a far better option for this type of material that we can use to improve our soils.

Surprisingly, Science World has emerged as a new leader in composting in downtown Vancouver. I received a call from Larissa Dundon, the PR manager who takes great pride in her response to the strict protocols that have been put in place around False Creek to control the spread of the invasive Japanese beetle. Everyone in this part of town, including Science World and other businesses, has been subject to strict regulations for over a year due to the discovery of this beetle. Removing soil or garden debris outside of this defined area is prohibited.

Dundon pointed out that Science World, through science and nature, creates wonders, arouses curiosity, and inspires dreams. It also embodies education, sustainability and recycling. It was very important to do something environmentally friendly to motivate and educate others.

To cope with this problem, a special location for the safe disposal of landscape material from this area was opened at a location in Vancouver at certain times. This disposal service is very expensive due to the nature of the material and the possibility of Japanese beetles being included at various stages in their life cycle. To deal with this situation, the people at Science World took an innovative approach.

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Science World's new composting system is now operational. Science World’s new composting system is now operational. Photo from Science World /PNG

Dana Turner, Science World’s Nature and Sustainability Program Manager, is responsible for overseeing their composting strategy. On their 35,000 square meter site, they have around 60 large specimens of trees and around 75 to 100 additional plants, including fruit trees. They also have gardens full of edibles that they use for teaching purposes. They donate their produce to downtown East Side soup kitchens, such as Potluck, which offers free meals to many local residents.

Science World has to deal with a significant amount of landscape debris. Turner pointed out that this is an educational establishment and they need to show leadership in waste disposal. Their solution was to create a three-box composting system and use it as part of their teaching program.

The design they use was suggested by The Cultivated Gardeners, a company tasked with maintaining their property. Essentially, three trash cans, each about one meter by three by three meters in size, were made from recycled waste wood from film sets and Ikea shelves. They wrapped poultry wire around them to both contain the materials and allow good airflow. The containers were collapsible and lidded to control moisture levels.

Lisa Atkins, along with her team from The Cultivated Gardeners, filled the trash cans with leaves, twigs, weeds, landscape debris and garden debris collected in Science World. She says that turning this composting material over weekly was the secret of her success. According to Atkins, the excessive heat we experienced that summer helped this organic matter break down quickly as long as the containers held some moisture.

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Depending on the composting system and the material to be composted, it can take three to six months or even longer for organic items to break down. Turner said that during the intense heat, adding moisture and turning the material between the three bins degrade some of the material in just three to four weeks.

Of course, this process takes longer in cooler times, but Turner insists that her method is an excellent teaching opportunity. Science World shows that both homeowners and small businesses can benefit from waste disposal and save money by creating their own landscaping and household waste programs.

The land Science World was built on has very poor soil. By adding this composted organic matter back to their soil, they are improving the quality of their land.

Science World has been an amazing learning resource since its inception. I love the fact that they created garden beds and are now teaching young people how to grow food. When Japanese beetles, an invasive species, created a serious quarantine situation, they intensified and played a leading role in responsibly managing the problem by restricting potentially infected soil or plant material to their location.

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