Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Great Toilet Harvest of 2013

Our Composting Toilet opened for business in 2007, at the John Janzen Nature Centre. The toilet shows that we can compost even that stuff.

Visitors to John Janzen Nature Centre and the Compost Education Centre have been peacefully contributing ever since. On August 24th, seven compost fanatics met to harvest the Composting Toilet for the very first time.

Megan & Andrew getting composty

How it works

Wood chips get mixed with the "fresh compostables" - liquids and solids - in the toilet. Micro-organisms thrive on both types of nitrogen- and carbon-rich materials to break down the waste. Then the whole batch is gets stirred, regularly, to introduce new waste for the organisms.

We have been surprised by the Composting Toilet. Most of all, it's taken almost six years to have enough finished compost.

Adding the finished compost
Site when we were done

Harvesting the finished product

First, we dug a trench near our perennial plants - away from food crops. Next, we dug the trench again. This makes a trench that is doubly-deep.

Then we harvested finished compost and mixed it into the trench, along with some soil. Finally, we topped the trench with the layers of soil.

When finished, the compost amends the soil and encourages roots to develop deep. We made sure to keep this humanure compost away from food crops and away from contact with visitors.

Special thanks to those MCRs who helped with harvesting: Maureane D., Mary-Jo G., Hannah H., Andrew J. and Megan M. Our tireless organizer was Ella W., our compost educator extrordinaire (and summer staff).

Most of all, thanks to Mark S.
He has tended the Composting Toilet for more than 5 years. He is the first one to stir the "compostables" in spring. He preps the "catchment" at the end of fall. And he replenishes the wood chips and air fresheners in the dead of winter. Thank you, Mark.

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