Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stop to Chat with Ella

Ella is doing a fabulous job as our Summer Compost Educator. Folks can learn to compost by visiting the Compost Education Centre (JJNC) on Saturdays and Sundays. She will also be there on Fridays and Mondays. We asked her some questions to see what makes her tick:

What are you the most proud of from your work this summer?

Before I talk about what I’m proud of in this job, I would just like to say that I’m incredibly honoured to be working for the City of Edmonton. My colleagues in Waste Management Services are very dynamic and forward-thinking, and have not ceased to stretch and challenge me in new ways.
In terms of visible accomplishments, I am most proud of maintaining the garden and floral displays at the John Janzen Nature Centre - I can watch how plants grow with the help of compost, daily!

What kind of questions do you get from people who visit the site?

I get a lot of crazy questions at the Compost Education Centre, but some of the most common ones are:
  • How long does it take to compost something? This one is a bit tricky because people want a simple answer. However, as any experienced composter knows, it’s never the same! I usually tell people that it can take anywhere between three months and five years; it’s up to them how long it takes.
  • What is the best kind of compost bin to get? When I get this question, I begin my answer by asking some questions of my own about the amount of waste the visitor wants to compost, how much time they have to turn the compost, and whether they want it done quickly. All of these factors allow me to make a recommendation.
  • How do I get started? That one’s easy, because the answer is always the same: greens, browns, water, air!

When you visit the site, let us know if you do any maintenance work
in this log book. That way we can properly thank you for your time!

Check out this map to learn what Ella has planted around the site.
What’s your favourite story from your work with Mark?

It’s hard to settle for one specific Mark story (there are just so many), but there is one ongoing saga that comes up the most often: Mark’s love affair with lattes. Of course I enjoy lattes as well, so Mark and I will often get one while out running errands. Recently, things have progressed so far that Mark and I will try to interpret the colour patterns in the milk foam. Although it’s not quite like reading tea leaves, it comes close to it in artfulness and imagination.
Ella has lots of examples of worm composting to show visitors.
She also encourages picnickers to compost their food scraps. 

How many people have you spoken to at the Compost Education Centre?

According to our stats, I've spoken to over 450 people, so far, this summer.

Ella is very comfortable helping residents find
a way to compost that fits their lifestyle. 

Do you have any tricks to engage people walking by the site?

The key to engaging any guest is offering them something, be it an activity, a demonstration, or just some attention. The most effective way of bringing families in is to play a game with the kids or to offer an encounter with our Red Wigglers. Adults without children can be more difficult to engage, but if they have any interest in composting, it usually works to be friendly and approach them. I offer to answer questions and encourage them to interact with the compost bins we have on site.

Thank you to Ella for sharing your experience with us. Remember to stop by, and say hello to her this summer! As you can see, Ella is happy to answer questions.

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