Composting Bokashi Style
by Cactus Moloney
Gorilla Composter Kathleen Rauch championed her cause driving all the way from Bozeman, Montana for a Bokashi Workshop at Moonflower Community Cooperative.
Living in Montana, Rauch has two things going against her when composting; she is in town and can’t just toss the scraps to the chickens and the short Montana growing season.
Another problem she found was being a meat-eater she didn’t feel right about tossing the food in the trash, leaving her with the question, how could she reclaim the valuable nutrients while living in the city?
Rauch has a background in fermentation, making Kombucha and dabbling in parsnip wines. With this knowledge she understood the compost possibilities.
Currently, she doesn’t have a garden, but feels the need to compost her food waste, so continues to practice Bokashi gorilla style! In the dark of night, she stealthily drops the completed fermentation into her neighborhood’s compost piles. When the summer comes, she hears their squeals of excitement at the amazing compost they have!
Many people are familiar with the traditional compost method. Collect fruit, vegetable scraps, add manure, straw, turn it for the oxygenated aerobic process. This method also uses the microorganisms; you can feel the heat from traditional composting. However, this valuable heat is lost causing greenhouse gasses.
Bokashi composting was designed by Professor Teruo Higa. Bokashi is a Japanese word that means “fermented organic matter.” He didn’t want to rely on commercial fertilizers so he designed the EM-1 Inoculant.
“Cultured food is part of our culture,” she said. Eating cheese from one’s home or the local honey, a person can taste the landscape around them.
Bokashi by taking all the scraps, bacon fat, eggs, dog hair, wool, hunting remnants, pork, fish, urine, pet waste, clothing (non-synthetic) and junk mail put it into your kitchen container and spray it with the inoculant to get rid of fruit flies and smells. Then when it is full add it to the fermenting vessel, a 3-5 gallon bucket to pickle; cover the bucket and add to it until it is full, tap down air pockets. Let it sit for a couple of weeks or longer. During this time it will ferment. Rauch wanted to be clear this is a fermentation process, not compost. It is low maintenance.
“As long as it is fermented anything will turn to soil,” she said.
During cold weather the bacteria will go dormant. You can put it in a rotating bin, but she warns people to slowly add the scraps, because the heat can melt the plastic. Bokashi does not lose the heat energy, nor does it lose the mass. When you open the lid it will smell pickled, not putrid.
After the two week fermentation “bury the evidence” and dig a hole adding the finished product and mix with the soil, it will become rich spongy humus with a much higher nutrient value.
An important tip is to not allow the bucket to become too liquefied, so add bread or paper to soak up the excess or special Bokashi buckets can be purchased with a liquid release valve. However, you can rig your own using two buckets, the top one having a few holes in the bottom to release the liquid into the second bucket.
This process keeps the animals at bay with the food and smells contained in buckets.
“We belong to our land,” Rauch said. “We are informed by our landscape.”
To order the EM-1 Inoculant go to http://www.teraganix.com/EM-1-Microbial-Inoculant-p/1000.htm
Many families anticipate holiday gatherings for months. Such gatherings bring together friends and family members who may not see one another much throughout the year.
Food tends to be plentiful at holiday gatherings, so it should come as no surprise that the holiday season generates a good deal of waste. In addition, energy consumption is high during the holiday season. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says household waste generally increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, equalling about 1 million extra tons of waste. The Worldwatch Institute states that the same period of time generates three times as much food waste as other times of the year.
Making the holiday season more sustainable does not mean families must give up their cherished traditions. Here are several tips to help make your holiday celebrations a bit more eco-friendly.
• Cut down on packaging. When shopping, seek items that are minimally packaged or shop at retailers that offer package-free products. Packaging accounts for a considerable portion of the trash that ends up in landfills. Shopping at local stores and craft fairs can help you avoid too much plastic packaging.
• Decorate with efficient products. Making a home look festive is part of many families' holiday celebrations. Opt for LED holiday lights, which last longer and use a fraction of the energy of traditional lights. Use soy or beeswax candles and incorporate as many natural items, such as fresh evergreen boughs, branches and berries, as you can find in your decorations.
• Shop smart. Shop at food stores that stock local products so foods do not have to travel great distances to reach your table. Take advantage of local farm stands and other vendors that pop up in the autumn. Remember to bring reusable shopping bags with you on any shopping excursions so you can reduce your reliance on paper and plastic bags.
• Reduce food waste. People often cook extra food for the holidays out of fear of not having enough for guests. But leftovers often end up going to waste. Use planners to determine how much food to cook for the number of guests you will be having. Keep portion sizes healthy by selecting smaller dinner plates and providing foods that are hearty and will fill guests quickly, such as rich proteins and complex carbohydrates. When the meal is done, promptly wrap up leftovers so they don't spoil.
• Use reusable dishes. Avoid paper and plastic dishes, instead opting for ones that can be used again and again. Take out your fine china or a festively patterned service set to use. Keep the dishwasher empty so that you can load it up with dirty dishes and run a full load to save even more energy.
• Reuse gift wrapping and accessories. Save wrapping paper and other decorative paper products to use as gift wrap at a later date. Keep a container full of bows and ribbons that are still in good condition as well. Gift bags can often be used several times before they begin to exhibit signs of wear and tear.