Auckland’s urban jungle is perhaps not an obvious place to start a composting story, but Ian Boothroyd uses the waste his colleagues produce to create delicious home grown vegetables.

Ian works for Boffa Miskell Ltd, an environmental planning and design consultancy based in the CBD. With the support of his colleagues, who were already on the ball when it comes to sustainability and environmental issues, he has come up with a way of dealing with office food waste. He takes it home with him to Puhoi, composts it in his own compost bins and worm farm, and brings back the end result in the form of fresh produce or homemade relishes to share with his colleagues!

Ian says his compost system is functional and a bit messy. He has planters near the back door for foods that the family pick and use regularly, and a plot further from the house for his bulk crops – those that go into making those delicious relishes.

Ian’s children are now keen composters and help sort the waste and take the compost into the garden. Ian’s improved his knowledge by reading about composting online, attending a free composting course and through trial and error.

At home, as well as a worm farm, Ian uses an open three bin system. With the addition of the extra food waste from the office it’s sometimes difficult to find enough brown carbon material to get the right mix, so he uses cardboard packaging from the new computers at work – another great way of reusing waste material. He said “Sometimes you’ve just got to get into the compost, to get your hands dirty and feel part of the earth”.

Ian says making the process simple for colleagues is important. He put up signs above the bins so that people can easily see where they need to put their different types of food waste. The food waste goes into sealed bokashi buckets so the food can’t spill on the way home.

Ian said ‘the rewarding thing about composting is when you get a meal on the table and you can say “I grew that, and that, and that”. He takes time to stop and celebrate this at the table with his family.

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