Turn Food Waste into a Natural Resource

Strange and wonderful things have been growing in Denise Holloway’s Abu Dhabi garden since she started using Bokashi, a simple home composting system, last September.

Standing in the sandy soil on a recent morning, the Canadian mother of one gestures to random spots where the earth has turned dark and rich. “When I clean out the bucket, I put it there and over there. I ended up with all these delicious feral tomatoes.”

Pointing to some more greenery in the corner, she says: “This is a mango that went into the Bokashi, and then I’ve got these coming up, and I don’t know what they are.”

Inside her kitchen, the only sign that she composts is a pot on a far counter with an aerated lid. Inside are her family of three’s most recent peels and pits. Later she transfers them to one of two out-of-sight beige Bokashi buckets, each made from recycled plastic. She pries off one of their tight-fitting green lids, revealing an interior almost full with old food. “See, it doesn’t stink,” she says. “This has been sitting here for three weeks.”

The system works by alternating layers of scraps and leftover food – even meat, eggshells, bones and seafood can go in – followed by a layer of Bokashi bran. The bran mixture includes wheat bran, sawdust, sugarcane blackstrap molasses, mineral rock salt and microbes, which are activated when they come in contact with the moisture from food. Not only is the food fermented, but the probiotic nature of the mixture also means it neutralises pathogens as well.

Every few days the Bokashi produces a brown, slightly fermented-smelling liquid, which Denise accesses by turning a spout at the bottom of the bucket. She mixes about a quarter cup with 10 litres of water and uses it to fertilise her garden out back. “What I like is it turns waste into a resource,” she says. “It ends up being really good for your garden.”

Ann Marie Mcqueen
12 April 2011
The National

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