Katoomba’s war on waste

In Katoomba they are going gangbusters for compost.

Earth Recovery Australia collects fruit and vegetables to be thrown out from local supermarkets and boxes it up for those in need.

But now they are also collecting the rotting fruit and vegetables, which is put to good use as compost for the community garden in North Katoomba.

Limiting waste to landfill: Volunteers from ERA and the community gardens, Toni Elliston, Justin Field, Ahlei Bliss, Rosa Del Ponte, Sarah Daniel and Jess Erntner with their buckets of compost.

Limiting waste to landfill: Volunteers from ERA and the community gardens, Toni Elliston, Justin Field, Ahlei Bliss, Rosa Del Ponte, Sarah Daniel and Jess Erntner with their buckets of compost.

“The compost has nearly doubled. We were getting 10 x 20 litre buckets of scraps a week; we are up to about 18 buckets a week now,” said volunteer Jess Erntner.

The total amount of food collected has increased by a third, and it’s anticipated they will have collected 100,000kg of fruit and vegies in the next year.

May 6-12 was International Compost Week and the volunteers at ERA and the community garden took the opportunity to reflect on their journey together over the past four years.

“We are saving fresh fruit, veg and bakery products that would otherwise become landfill," said Rosa Del Ponte from ERA’s Food Rescue project. 

“The vast majority of the food is perfectly fine. We then distribute the food in our community for free. We also cook a free, hot lunch on a Sunday; we put a lot of effort into that. We always do a soup, a choice of mains and dessert and even include a lucky door prize. Everyone in the community is very welcome to come and grab a veg box or come to Sunday lunch".

“We can always distribute more, so we welcome any businesses that would like to get involved in our Food Rescue project”. 

The community gardens have been running in North Katoomba since 1995. They are always open to the community and are completely volunteer run.

“The gardens are magical,” said volunteer Jess Erntner, “My kids want to live there. It’s a great space for kids to run free,  better than the park with the added bonus of fresh treats to pick and eat such as strawberries and green beans.”

The waste from ERA's Food Rescue project is put to good use at the gardens, being composted and used on site in the garden beds to grow more food.

More helping hands are always welcome at the garden, with no prior knowledge of gardening required.

“It’s really a matter of come and do what you can, all the volunteers have their own skills and preferences," said community gardener Sarah Daniel. “It is ideal for parents and kids; the kids love to alternate between joining in with the gardening and running and playing, and there's no pressure on parents if they have to stop to look after their little ones.” 

The gardens are located at 8 Victoria St and are always open to the public. Volunteer times are Friday mornings 9am-12.30pm ending with a soup lunch made from the garden produce. Working bees are held every third Sunday of the month from 10am-1pm.

For more information on ERA contact 0416 221 963, join Facebook Mountains Soul Kitchen or visit: earthrecoveryaustralia.org.au. For more info on the community garden contact Sarah 0422 652 830 or visit www.facebook.com/katoombacommunitygarden/.

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