Friday, April 25, 2008

The Story Of The Compost Pile.

It started more than a year ago, when Rosa Maria talked to the people at the Sanitation Department in Pelileo and inquired about the prospects of getting a load of organic waste delivered to the school as we needed it for our new garden. They agreed to her request and assured her that it would be free of other rubbish. Shortly after her visit (it had to be a record for getting request through bureaucratic departments) we were visited by two garbage trucks whose drivers deposited their loads in an area close to entrance to the school.

We were really not ready for the this much garbage and while we were wondering how we were going to use it, it started to smell and breed flies by the millions. The smell at the school was not too bad as the breeze took it down hill, however it was very annoying to a farmer who had a field about two hundred yards down the hill. He became very angry at us and kept yelling up at us to do something about the flies.

One day Rosa Maria disappeared around noon and a short time later we see a tractor coming up the hill, and there was Rosa sharing the seat with the driver. It took about 10 minutes to push all of the garbage into a corner and then cover it with dirt. The fly and smell problem was solved.

And now for the rest of the story....The very next day, we had a visit from an inspector from the sanitation dept of Pelileo. The farmer had filed a complaint stating our flies had killed his cow. Clemente, our maintenance man at the time, looked at him with this confused look on his face and said " Flies? We don´t have any flies here. Look around do you see any flies?" After a few minutes the inspector left and the whole smelly mess was forgotten.
After a year of fermenting and doing what ever compost piles are supposed to do, we are now using the garbage, that has been transformed, I hope, into a high quality organic fertilizer on our crops.

We did find however that the clean organic waste was filled with what seems like a ton of plastic articles. Since the consensus is, of all the volunteers and students who have picked through this smelly mess to rid it of unwanted materials that we have a lot to learn about compost piles. In a few weeks we are going to start a new pile and are reading up on how to do it right. We would welcome any suggestions.