Community compost facilities make sound financial sense

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 April, 2009, 12:00am

I am a gardener living in Mui Wo on Lantau and unlike the government I take very seriously the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. Consequently, one thing I am trying to do is grow fruit, vegetables and herbs in my garden and allotment using organic methods. Conventionally-grown food is heavily dependent on fossil fuel inputs. However, in order to grow food organically it is necessary to have ample input of compost which is good for the crops but also good for the soil which has been so depleted of goodness after years of conventional farming that it is almost devoid of nutrients.

It is then with considerable irritation that I frequently witness government workers trimming bushes, cutting grass, removing dying plants and putting all of this material which can be turned into compost, not into community compost heaps, but into black plastic bags to be tied up and transported to distant landfills. This city affords innumerable examples of officialdom gone mad, but how did anyone allow this piece of idiocy to become standard practice?

More people on Lantau are now taking to growing their own food and there are many who have always grown their own. In the near future peak oil will ensure that many more people will have to learn to do the same. All of these individuals need copious amounts of compost and one sure way of providing it is to have community composting facilities to which all of the clippings can be taken that are currently transported using precious oil to the overflowing landfill sites.

I am sure the rural district committees in Hong Kong could cope with the task of setting up such facilities and there is excellent advice available from such institutions as Kadoorie Farm and the other organic farms throughout Hong Kong.

The cost would be negligible. It would provide jobs and relieve the pressure on the groaning landfills. And it would provide an excellent source of compost to help create a vibrant network of local organic food producers. This would mean local organic food at a reasonable price for local customers. What could be better?

Donald Latter, Lantau