S&L – Issue 17

Salt and Light

Issue Seventeen (April 2010)

Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter

We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”

The aim of this newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator – Jessica Morthorpe.


l  Letter from the Editor

l  Events

l  Invitation

l  Grants

l  Focus Article

l  Resources

l  Reading

l  Websites to visit

Letter from the Editor:

Hi everyone,


Apologies for skipping the March issue, I was busy finding our new volunteer writer/assistant for Salt and Light – Michael Rhydderch. Mike has an environmental science degree from ACU and is now studying a post-grad diploma of science communication at ANU. I am sure you will all enjoy the article he has put together for you this month on compost, see below. Thanks Mike!


World Environment Day happens to be on a Sunday this year, so I hope to see you all doing eco-themed services in your churches on the 5th of June. If you do, don’t forget to let me know so I can count it towards your next Five Leaf Eco-Award. See below for the link to the WED 2011 resources for churches. Also, I don’t have specific plans yet, so if you would like me to visit or speak at your church on the 5th it’s not too late to snaffle me :p I will consider travelling.


For those in Canberra, a reminder that there is still space for more plots in the community garden at Ainslie Church of Christ (but you might need to offer to build and/or fill the plot with soil yourself). Thank you to those who have already taken up this offer.


In other content this month, I’m quite excited about the prospect of setting up an A Rocha chapter in Australia, so I’m ‘forwarding’ the letter below as an invitation for those of you who are interested in the conservation and endangered species protection area to become involved.


Yours Sincerely,








Dear friends

We are a group of Christians giving careful and prayerful consideration to the need and desirability of establishing a national Christian environmental organisation in Australia modelled on A Rocha. As part of this process we are seeking the advice and expressions of interest from a number of individuals and Christian organisations.

A Rocha is an established international Christian organization which, inspired by God’s love, engages in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects. If you are unfamiliar with the work and values of A Rocha you can find out more at http://www.arocha.org/int-en/who.html. A short video of the work of A Rocha can be viewed at http://www.arocha.org/int-en/work.html.


As you know, issues of environmental sustainability, together with concern about climate change, are generating substantial controversy and debate both nationally and globally, a debate and controversy reflected within the Church. We think that an Australian organisation linked to A Rocha, with its unequivocal emphasis upon the Biblical mandate to care for creation and protect bio-diversity, could play a significant role in restoring communities and country with the hope for sustainable development, and engaging Christians in such work.

It would be very helpful to us to know whether or not you share our hunch regarding the need to develop an Australian chapter of A Rocha, and, if so, whether or not you would like to participate in the next exploratory step. This would involve bringing together interested people and organisations for a roundtable discussion (both physical and via Skype).

We would appreciate it very much if you could email your responses back to me by Friday 13th May 2011. Alternatively please do forward this letter onto those who you think would be interested in this initiative.

On behalf of the initial working group,


Yours in Christ

Dr Mick Pope, on behalf of the initial working group


Stephen Seymour, Education management, community development, previously missions in Africa.

Sally Shaw, Masters Student, activate in Transition Town project, previously established community project in Cambodia.

Ruth Colman, English teacher, Editor and A Rocha newsletter distribution in Australia.

Mick Pope, Coordinator, Ethos Environment/Reviews Editor, Zadok Perspectives.

Steve Bradbury, Director Micah 6.8 Centre, Chair Micah Challenge International.


ACT Environment Grants 2011-2012

Media release: 2011 Environment Grants open 11 April 2011

The ACT Environment Grants are worth more than $250,000, with an upper limit of funding of $25,000 for each project. Continued projects can be now supported with further funding up to $10,000 for each project.  The closing date for applications is Friday, 13 May 2011.

The ACT Environment Grants are focused on assisting the community to undertake activities that complement the delivery of the ACT Government’s environmental priorities, as articulated in the Canberra Plan: Towards our Second Century.  The Canberra Plan can be obtained from the Chief Minister’s Department website at http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/policystrategic/canberraplan

Funding priorities

Funding is available for projects that meet one or more of the following objectives:

  •                 Meet objectives of the 2011 International Year of Forests; (http://www.internationalyearofforests.com.au/      )
  •                 Assist the Territory in celebrating Canberra’s centenary in 2013;
  •                 Support community engagement in implementing nature conservation      strategies;
  •                 Address the management of plant and animal pests;
  •                 Encourage responsible management of pets for the protection of      biodiversity;
  •                 Promote sustainability;
  •                 Support or complement ACT Government/community events relating to natural      resource relating management;
  •                 Deliver a variety of walks, talks and activities on environmental      subjects;
  •                 Promote local involvement in environmental activities;
  •                 Involve the local Indigenous community in local environmental initiatives;
  •                 Encourage wise use of resources and reduced negative environmental      impacts; and
  •                 Likely to have a positive and desirable effect on the environment.

How to apply

To apply for a grant, download the 2011-12 ACT Environment Grants Application Guidelines and Application Form. Applicants should also see the Canberra Plan.

Assistance will be available in the form of a direct grant based on the budget in the submitted application.

More info: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/environment/2010-11_environment_grants


Multiple states

OzGreen HeartLEAD workshops

Our planet needs inspired youth and adults, working together. Find your passion and tap your capacity to create the changes we need right now!


You are invited to set aside a weekend and come together with other concerned people to listen deeply to each other, to the Earth and to our own Hearts; reflect on the state of the planet; vision where we need to change and with collective wisdom innovate how we can bring about deep change.


It is a great professional development opportunity for teachers, change agents and sustainability educators, equipping you with key skills such as strategic questioning, deep listening, visioning and creative action planning.


HeartLEAD workshops coming up in:

Canberra 7-8 May – Wamboin Community Hall, 112 Bingley Way, Wamboin

Sydney 14-15 May

Wollondilly 4-6 June

Alice Springs 9-10 June


About the Facilitator

Sue Lennox (OzGREEN Co-founder and CEO) Sue is a passionate champion for sustainable living, transformative learning and participatory leadership. Sue and Col Lennox set up OzGREEN to engage young people and adults in addressing the significant social and environmental challenges of our time. Sue is an Australia Day Ambassador, a member of the Centre for Social Impact Advisory Council, winner of Eureka, Banksia and UN Media Peace Awards and was named one of Sydney’s Top 100 Most Influential People by The Sydney Magazine.



Youth $250 Adult $395 Organisational rate $595

Concession and scholarships available, please call us. 

Price includes facilitation, workshop materials and catering.

Please advise us of any dietary requirements at time of booking.


How to register:

Limited spaces available. Register online at www.ozgreen.org





Dunlop Environment Volunteers                                                                                                   Ginninderra Creek Corridor and tributaries and ponds, in and around Jarramlee Park, Dunlop are being actively cleaned by eager volunteers wanting to their bit of the environment.

Regular Meetings: Meetings are held every 6 weeks on a Tuesday evening. For information ring 6259 0759.

Their activities range from weed management, planting native vegetation, rubbish clean-ups, social events and community awareness-raising and education.

For further information contact Pamela Fawke, 6259 0759. Or contact the Ginninderra Catchment Group


Community FORUM on Climate Change

When: Monday 2 May 2011 @ 6.30-8.00pm

WhereSouthern Cross Club Jamison (Cnr Catchpole & Bowman Streets, Macquarie).

On Monday night, I will be holding a community forum to discuss the government’s plans for reducing carbon pollution and moving to a cleaner economy.

Please RSVP to Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser

andrew.leigh.mp@aph.gov.au or 6247 4396.


 Real Food Canberra Documentary Night: 3rd May
We will be screening “FRESH” – a documentary which celebrates farmers, thinkers and business people who are re-inventing our food system. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for the future of our food and our planet. For more info, checkout: www.freshthemovie.com

The movie will be preceded by a short line-up of speakers including the Real Food Co-Directors and Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane (of Allsun Farm, Gundaroo).

When: 18:00 – 20:30 Tuesday 3rd May 2011; the screening will commence at 18:30
 Manning Clark Centre Theatre 4, ANU
 Tuesday 26th April 2011 
free of charge or optional gold coin donation
Free sustainable tasty treats and local OJ will be on offer before the screening
We really hope you will join us for what promises to be a fun, inspiring and delicious night!!



Conservation Volunteers – Narooma South Coast Escape: Monday 2nd – Friday 6th May 2011


Escape Canberra for a week and join our volunteer team as we head down to the beautiful south coast of NSW to continue an ongoing program to regenerate a strip of coastal vegetation at Mystery Bay and Akolele– picturesque coastal areas unspoiled by over development.  We will be eradicating coastal weeds along the dunes and protecting the habitat of native birds including the Hooded Plover which use open sand spits as their nesting sites.
Volunteers will spend the week in cabins at the Island View Beach Resort – right on the beach in Narooma.  The team will have access to all the park facilities including tennis courts, swimming pool and beach volleyball.


Volunteer Contribution: $208




 International Environmental Law Symposium: 28th May

 Towards Rio+ 20: Contemporary Issues in International Environmental Law

Date: Saturday, 28th May 2011

Time: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Cost: Free

RSVP: Wednesday, 18th May 2011

The ANU students of International Environmental Law, in conjunction with the ANU Environmental Law Students’ Society, invite you to join their inaugural Symposium on 28 May at the ANU College of Law. Come and share student ideas and hear from some of Australia’s best thinkers in the field of international environmental law.
Check out the flier our website: http://law.anu.edu.au/coast/events/environment/symposium.htm


Populating the Future

Thursday 12 May, 7.30 pm


·         Geoff Buckmaster speaking on “Hurtling Towards a Precipice, Hoping for a Miracle”; and

·         Mark O’Connor speaking on “Controlling Our Population – A Moral Obligation”.  There is an article by Mark O’Connor in the current Quarterly – well worth reading for those with an interest in population matters

Chair: Rev Ivan Roberts

Venue:  Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Corner of Blackall and Kings Ave Barton

Cost: donation $5 invited


Water, Community and Food

Thursday 8 September

Speaker:  Dr John Williams:  Former Chief CSIRO Land and Water; member of the Wentworth Group of Scientists; Adjunct Professor, Charles Sturt University

Time: 7.30 pm

Venue:  Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Corner of Blackall and Kings Ave Barton

Cost: donation $5 invited

Supper provided


Public forum – “Australian Religious   Perspectives on Climate Change”
Bishop George Browning, former Bishop of the   Anglican Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn will present

a paper   offering a religious perspective on climate change and the policy responses   needed.

Response from the Hon. Mark Dreyfus MP,   Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change

Response from the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Shadow Minister   for Climate Change, Environment and Water

Response from Dr Janette Lindesay, Assoc. Professor   at ANU, climate scientist

Moderated open discussion.


Date/time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm, Thursday, June 2

Location: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, 15 Blackall St,   Barton. ACT.

Organisation: Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)

Cost: Free

For more information contact Thea Ormerod on chair   at arrcc.org.au or 0405 293 466



EPA and Environment   Victoria Community Forum


Victoria’s EPA wants to have an open and ongoing   conversation with Victorians to hear from you

about what you want for your environment. The EPA   has also committed to greater transparency

with the community on its decision-making as   Victoria’s environmental regulator.


The community forum will include a report from   John Merritt CEO, EPA Victoria on the activity

and   performance of the EPA, and an open discussion about what environmental   justice means

for   Victorians.  Brendan   Sydes, EDO’s CEO will be speaking as part of an   expert panel.


Thursday 5 May 2011, 5.30pm–7.30pm
For more information and to RSVP go to the

EV website
National Environmental Law Association Carbon   Farming Initiative Forum

NELA is holding a   forum to discuss the Australian Government’s proposed Carbon Farming   Initiative

and how it will   interact with relevant state laws. The CFI will produce a   significant incentive for land

use change in the   rural sector.
Thursday 5 May 2011, 5.00pm–7.00pm



        The   Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary   Secretary for Climate

Change and Energy Efficiency 

        Maya   Stuart-Fox, Department of Energy Efficiency and Climate Change


         Barnaby   McIlrath, Senior Associate, Maddocks Planning and Environment Group
For more information and to RSVP go to the NELA website



EDO Seminar–   New Developments in Climate Law


The EDO is   holding a seminar on new directions in climate law and policy – the laws we   have,

and the laws we   need.


Wednesday 8 June   2011, 5.45pm –   7.00pm

Melbourne   University, Parkville Campus

Where is federal   climate law and policy going? Is investment in ‘green’ industries adequate   and what

laws we need to drive further investment in   these sectors?

More details   to be announced soon.

 To reserve a   place contact EDO Victoria office,




Climate Change Connections Workshop


Description: Are you frustrated and worried about climate change, but are not     sure what to do about it? Do you wish there was more you could do, and that     you could connect with others who want to work together in Newcastle?

Climate Action Network Australia and Climate Action Newcastle would     like to invite you to spend the day with us and other people just like you     to create exciting new climate change connections and activities in     Newcastle.
With the support of 100% Renewable Energy, 350.org Australia, the Uniting     Church Hunter Presbytery Social Justice Committee and Make Believe’s Anna     Rose, we will be helping all of you identify what makes people active on     climate change, hearing your stories of inspiration and achievement, and     making plans for a vibrant and connected climate change activities in     Newcastle.

Date/time: Saturday 14th May, 10am – 3pm
Location: tba (you will be given details when you RSVP)
Organisation: Climate Action Network Australia, Climate Action     Newcastle
Cost: Free, food and drink will be provided
RSVP: Essential for catering purposes, email Laura at     laura.holly.ealing at gmail.com


Vegetarian       Cooking Workshop


Event name: Vegetarian Cooking Workshop, Sydney

Description: Reduce your meat consumption, hone your cooking skills with the       assistance of two talented cooks, and enjoy a delicious Mediterranean       banquet in a fabulous community kitchen at this participatory vegetarian       cooking workshop at Bondi in Sydney.  With cooking demonstrators       Devin Gibson and George Vlamakis.

Date/time: Sunday 29th May, 3:30pm-7:00pm.
Location: Our Big Kitchen, 36 Flood St, Bondi (down the left       driveway, look for the signs)
Organisation: ARRCC and Our Big Kitchen
Cost: $30 for workshop participants.  Participants are       invited to bring an extra guest at 6pm to share the meal (additional cost       $10).
RSVP: Essential, by 22nd May to secretary at arrcc.org.au, or 0447       730 772



Church Greening News


Jessica has been travelling again. Check out her speeches to St George’s Uniting Church in Eden (the south coast of NSW) and Springwood Uniting Church (mid-Blue Mountains NSW) at http://fiveleaf-crownofthorns.blogspot.com/


Cry of the Earth Conference

Saturday, 4 June 2011, 9.30am-4pm (registrations and a cuppa from 9.00am)

West End Uniting Church Hall, corner Vulture and Sussex Streets, West End, Brisbane

20 mins walk from South Brisbane Railway Station  or pop on Bus 199 with stops all the way from the city to Boundary street near corner of Vulture Street.

The one-day Cry of the Earth Conference is for Christians wanting to integrate their faith with environmental concern and action.   Conference speakers and elective facilitators will help us attend to the ‘cry of the earth’,  inspire us to re-commit to the healing of the earth as part of Christian discipleship, and give us practical suggestions for living out this commitment.  Topics will include Loving God and Loving the EarthWhat Indigenous Spirituality can teach ChristiansMoving from Concern to ActionGreening Churches,  Sustainable Livingthe Environment and the PoorEco-mission plus much more.


Threading its way through the conference is the theme of celebrating forests, with 2011 being the United Nations Year of the Forests.  Creative ways of learning about, celebrating, connecting with, and restoring forests will be explored throughout the day.

More info and registration: http://tendashoot.net.au/

Focus Article

It’s not all lost, just remember to compost

It is very easy to become disillusioned with what “you” as a single entity can do about Global Warming, or as it’s widely referred to now “Climate Change” (more user-friendly). Most people in the community want to have a positive effect on keeping this Earth in a liveable condition, but with the Government talking about complicated schemes like “carbon tax” and “clean coal” it is easy to become annoyed and confused as to what you can do yourself.

There is no doubt that renewable energy usage like wind and solar power is a big way to move toward the future in our homes. This change is much needed but the reality is that these devices come at an expense. There must be something more that we can do; something that can happen right away without taking too much out of our pocket…

The answer is COMPOST!!! No matter how small the space you live in you can turn your green waste into a useful and tasty bi-product for your garden.

What is compost and what does it generate

Compost is made from “our” organic waste. It consists mainly from food-wastes, garden refuse (including green clippings and weeds), non-treated wood clippings, coffee and tea waste and many other things.

Most of what we throw into the bin each week could be instead become compost. Compost is created by the breakdown of organic material by microbes, and it is happening constantly all around us on the forest floor.

The most amazing thing about compost is that you can take waste and make it into something so nutrient rich your plants will be thanking you forever. This product is called humus. Humus is the altered organic material that you put in at the start, broken down with a little bit of bacteria and fungi thrown in (Thompson 2007). It is extremely nutrient rich, will add to your soil organic content hugely and your plants will thrive.

Why should we compost

All of what we put into our rubbish bins ends up at the local landfill.

Landfills are not bottomless pits and they are rapidly running out of room. The last thing anyone wants is a landfill on their doorstep, especially when that is avoidable. Even more problematic than landfills filling up though, is that they can leak. When organic waste from our household breaks down in landfill it does so anaerobically (without air). This means that it turns into an acidic compound. This acidic compound can then break down all the plastic in the landfill, creating a toxic concoction caused leachate. If a landfill is not properly layered with material to prevent this leachate from escaping it will leak out of the landfill into the waterways and potentially into our water supply. There is a bad case of this happening in Rhodes in Sydney. A big issue was how to clean up the land for residential use after so many years of careless dumping of waste, some forms much more toxic than house-hold green waste.

By composting we can reduce over half of what ‘we’ put into our bin each weak, which means, over half of what was ending up in landfill each week is now being recycled into a useful product that will help your plants, vegies and/or herbs thrive at any time of the year.

From global perspective, as waste breaks down in landfill it releases gases, the majority of which are greenhouse gases. The two major gases are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). These are commonly known as major climate change contributors, although naturally occurring, because we are increasing their presence in the earth at an unnatural rate.

On average, CO2 makes up 57% of gas released in landfill and methane makes up 40%. Here methane is the concern, because although not widely talked about as CO2 it is actually 27 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than CO2 (www.environment.nsw.gov.au). So, 40% of the total gases released in landfills being methane is quite significant. Therefore by composting you are actually doing a great deal for the world.

How do we compost, what do we need:

No matter how much space you have in your home you can compost. Whether you’re on a farm, in a suburban family home or an inner city apartment, and anything in between. All that will change is the type of compost design it is most appropriate for you to use.

Here is a simple list of what to put and what not to put in your compost:


Vegetable and food scraps

Fallen leaves (in layers)

Tea leaves and tea bags

Coffee grounds

Vacuum cleaner dust

Soft stems

Dead flowers

Old potting mix

Used vegetable cooking oil

Egg shells

Old newspapers (wet)

Grass cuttings in layers


Sawdust (not from treated timber)

Wood ash

Human and animal hair




Meat and dairy products

Diseased plants

Metals, plastic, glass

Animal manures (especially the droppings of cats and dogs)



Large branches

Weeds that have seeds or underground stems

Bread or cake (may attract mice)


Sawdust from treated timber


Your compost needs four important components for it to be successful. (Where successful is defined as compost that produces humus, doesn’t smell, and does not produce greenhouse gases.)

Firstly your compost needs carbon, and secondly your compost needs nitrogen. But it is the ratio of carbon to nitrogen that is the key in making it work.

The microbes in the compost need a balanced diet just like we do (Thompson 2007). The microbes need the energy which they get from the carbon and they need the nitrogen to make vital proteins. The ideal C:N ratio is 30:1.

The best way to think of it is to add 30 times as much carbon based waste to the compost as nitrogen.

When you’re thinking carbon, think brown. Dry leaves, wood clippings, hedge clippings, paper, and broken branches. It is important not to have too much carbon though; otherwise your compost will take so long g to break down you will forget about it.

When thinking nitrogen, think green, think moisture. Things like green garden clippings, most leftover food from the house and coffee grinds are rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen is very important but don’t add too much of it or all the moisture can turn your aerobic compost into anaerobic compost. This will start to turn smelly and produce greenhouse gases…..and nobody wants that.

The third thing your compost craves is air. Air is what stops greenhouse gases being produced like they are in landfills. Air helps the microbes in our compost to survive. Once again you need a balance, if there is too much air it will cause the compost to break down very slowly, probably because there will not be enough moisture. On the other hand, if there is an odour coming from your compost, you don’t have enough air. Turning your compost always helps to introduce more air and cut down on the anaerobic processes that may have started.

The fourth thing that compost needs is moisture. The tiny little microbes we need for our compost live inside the films of water. Obviously, as discussed before, if we have too much moisture in our compost this will turn it anaerobic and lead to smelly gassy compost. The aim is for a 50-60% moisture level, which is equivalent to a well wrung out sponge.

So, if you have dry compost, give it a quick spray with water and turn it or add some more nitrogenous material. On the opposite side of the coin, if your compost is too wet any paper or cardboard (not magazines) you have lying around the house will be perfect to add to the compost to dry it out.

Ideally your compost should be layered with tough carbon organic material and soft nitrogen rich material. You can put a few spadefuls of soil in to help the process of the microbes along. Even better would be putting a few spadefuls of compost that has already broken down onto the new heap.

Aim to put the compost in the sunniest part of your backyard and the bigger the better. The bigger the compost is the better the insulation will be, and the more successful your compost will be at making humus. The ideal size is around 1 cubic metre in size (Thompson 2007), which is basically the size of a bin. For the backyard compost, basically you want a paper/cardboard type layer at the bottom, followed by the kitchen wastes/green clippings. After that it can be in any order you like.

A key ingredient that I have not included as of yet are worms. You want worms in your compost. They will keep the air circulating through the compost without you having to turn it all the time. They help the compost breakdown. The few spadefuls of soil you put in will hopefully give you the worms you need to start with.

There are many different ways to construct a composting operation. It is possible to just have the compost in a heap with no cover. The material will compost, though it may take longer to get the final product and there is a higher chance of windblown seeds entering the compost. It is also less tidy. Having an open compost might work for you if you are living on a large area of land, but may not work for you if you have a small backyard.

There are simple bins that are available, not unlike the bins we use for our garbage. These have an access at the top to put the waste in, and when you want to get to the humus underneath you lift off the whole bin.

It is also possible to go out and buy a fancy compost bin for your home, but is even easier and cheaper to make your own from things you would probably be putting out in the next council clean-up.

All you need to do is create a structure like a bin that has an easy access at the top for you to put the compost in, not too many gaps along the side (otherwise too much air will slow down the process of decomposition), and easy access for you to collect the humus at the end.

Here is a list of things that you can make compost bins from:

  1. Untreated wood-will last a few years, however if in constant contact with moist soil, it will eventually rot.
  2. Treated wood- will last longer than untreated wood, but double check what it is treated with.
  3. Chicken wire/wooden or metal poles- stick the four poles in the ground and wrap the chicken wire around it.
  4. Old tyres- these can be stacked up, providing good access and good insulation.
  5. Bricks/concrete blocks-easy and effective. If you are using untreated wood aim at putting a few bricks or blocks at the base. This will slow the decomposition of the wood.
  6. Cupboards- provide support and easy access.

These are just a few things you can make a compost heap from. I think you get the idea that you can make it from pretty much anything. This is important to know because people can be creative in what they make their compost bin from. They don’t have to go out and buy anything. It is extremely cheap to begin composting.

Composting without a Backyard?

I did mention at the beginning of this article that anyone can compost no matter what their living arrangements are. However most of the options I have talked about (bins, open heaps, and DIY from bricks, wood, concrete or even cupboards) are not suitable for someone living inside an apartment.  This high density style of living does not allow you a lot of room to take up practices like composting.

But all is not lost, you can still compost…..Just think smaller.

Any plastic/metal container around the size of your normal bin can be turned into a compost maker. You want to store it in a warm place, like under the sink, in the sun on the balcony or even in the closet. Punch holes in the sides at the bottom to give it sufficient aeration, and place it on a large tray so it doesn’t get all over the floor the (plastic lid of a large container will do the trick).

Apply the same rules as any other compost. Layer the bottom with carbon rich material, and follow with a nitrogen rich layer and so on. Add some soil (from a friend’s house or anywhere where soil is….which is everywhere). The soil is to add of worms. These wonderful worms will help breakdown the keep the compost nice and aerated. Finally turn the compost every two weeks and you will have successful compost (http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/apartment-compost-guide.html).

This small compost may take longer than a larger compost to create the final product-humus. But it will work, and while it’s busy doing its thing you are doing your thing for the environment.

It would also be handy to have another spare bucket at your disposal so that when your compost is full and almost ready you can take the top layers of that compost and put it into the next container to help that compost along.

So what do we do now?

Now that we have all this compost, what do we do with it? The first answer is to feed it to your plants. Humus is the “wonder-drug” for you plants. It gives them everything they need for healthy living. It provides all the nutrients they will ever need, helps to keep the soil aerated and retains water for the plant to drink.

If you aren’t growing any plants or vegies/herbs….What a great reason to start! Not only will they thrive with the addition of your humus, you will be having another positive environmental impact on this world. By growing a couple of your own vegetables and herbs you are stopping yourself from buying as many from the supermarket. It is imperative that we support our local farmers, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the produce we are buying is from overseas. Overseas food produce (which allows us to buy any vegetable, fruit and or herb at any time of the year) is damaging not only to ‘our’ farmers, but there are also has environmental costs to getting that produce here. Therefore, by saving yourself from buying as many vegetables at the supermarket and growing your own, you are saving yourself money, saving food miles, putting your compost to use and also wasting less.

How much compost you create should be more or less be relative to what you could realistically grow in your home. For example: a suburban house with a backyard has the possibility of growing plants as well as vegetables and herbs on a small scale, whereas someone living in an apartment could grow herbs and maybe some climbers on the balcony (eg. snow peas).

Splashing some cash on compost

If your DIY skills are few and far between (like mine), and you don’t feel like testing them, there are fancy compost bins you can purchase that will do the work for you. You won’t have to worry about sorting out the smell and the humus produced, and the compost will be exactly of the same quality as if you constructed your compost out of old tyres.


Here are some examples of things that are out there:

NatureMill Plus- $ 299.                                NautureMill Pro- $399.

Figure 2:http://tinychoices.com/2008/06/05/naturemill

Figure 1:http://www.redferret.net/?p=16896

Both the NatureMill Plus and the NatureMill Pro are electric composters the size of a normal bin. They will heat, mix and aerate your food scraps (though your microorganisms in the compost would normally do most of that anyway), and then deposit the ready humus into a tray at the bottom where you can collect it at your convenience (planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/apartment-compost-guide).


The Bokashi Bin- $59


Figure 3:http://www.ecoathome.com.au/Bokashi-Bucket-White-6BBW1060/

The Bokashi Bin is even smaller. At just 20litres this can store up to 3-4 weeks food waste. You need to add microbial inoculants to help the process along. You can either buy this stuff as well, or basically just add some soil. This will still require manual handling but it is a nice and tidy, and not too expensive, way of keeping your compost hidden (planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/apartment-compost-guide).


End note from Jessica:

One of the things I learnt on the Christians in Community Gardening Exposure Tour I attended in early April was that compost is like gold for gardeners. Some of the gardens we visited had communal compost heaps so people could put their scraps in and these would be broken down into humus for use on the communal plots of the garden. A good way to get rid of some organic waste people didn’t want I thought. I was wrong. In fact, most of the gardeners in the community garden didn’t use this communal compost heap because their compost was too valuable to them. Instead they had their own small composts within their plots so that their humus could go straight onto their garden plots to enrich their vegies. So I suppose it is time to stop seeing apple cores and potato peelings and waste and start seeing them as gardener’s gold!

Speaking of gardening… I know many of you are expert composters already, so if you have any magic tricks to share with those of us who are just learning, please email me and I will put them in the next issue. And if you have heard most of this before, why not pin a copy of this article to your church notice board so your whole community can get involved? Just don’t fight over the scraps from your next church lunch!

Liked this month’s article? Let me know so I can pass your encouragement on to Mike…


Thompson, Ken.  2007, Compost, Dorling Kingsley Limited, London.











World Environment Day Resources 2011 Available!

This year’s W.E.D. resources for churches are up. These are great resources and they are an essential tool for planning your church service on the 5th of June this year. Our theme is forests to match the UN International Year of Forests. Download the resources at:


2011 Calendar Dates:

–          June 5th – World Environment Day

–          September 7th – National Threatened Species Day

–          September 25th – Ecumenical Social Justice Sunday

–          October – 17th – 23rd – National Water Week

–          November 26th – International Buy Nothing Day



Christians for an Ethical Society Forum downloads

·         Bishop George Browning speaking on “Known Knowns; a basket of summer fruit”.  This forum introduced our theme for 2011: Good Stewardship – Protecting Our Future.  A pdf outline of  Bishop Browning’s talk  is also available.

·         “Nuclear Power: Bequeathing yet more Problems to Future Generations” with speaker Dr Sue Wareham.  A pdf outline of  Dr Wareham’s  talk  is also available.  There is also a short list of web site references and articles.

·         CES  in conjunction with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture presented a public forum on “Stakeholding: Towards a Christianity of Radical Inclusivity” with speaker British black theologian, Dr Anthony Reddie.

Just click on www.ces.org.au and look in What’s New What’s Different for the Audio Downloads hyperlink. You can also find audios and often transcripts of most previous forums by clicking on Downloads from the top menu.

Want to know more about our 2011 CES theme?  Click on Good Stewardship – Protecting Our Future

Websites to Visit

God and Gumnuts blog

Liz (the author) is a friend of Jessica’s who studies theology in Canberra and is passionate about the environment, so there are lots of articles in this blog likely to be of interest to readers of Salt and Light.


Life in the Suburbs

The Life in the Suburbs website also has recently been updated and has moved to a new home. A collaborative initiative of ANU and other local Organisations, Life in the Suburbs highlights the importance of maintaining local urban biodiversity and species habitat. The website also includes guidelines for managing urban habitat, steps to reduce human induced threats to urban biodiversity, and practical guidelines for developing habitat gardens and landscapes.  The guidelines include many links to ACT specific information, educational resources and contacts. Check it out at: http://www.lifeinthesuburbs.com.au/

For an update on the Population debate:

See Overland Magazine article: Debate between Mark Diesendorf and Andrew Bartlett






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