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It’s a fact of life that even the most beautiful organic material is destined to go from ripe to rotting in a relatively short period of time.

Here at Camp Kawartha, we can produce over 120 litres of organic waste each and every day. But what to do with such a volume of green waste? In keeping with our philosophy of environmental stewardship, we prefer to deal with it in the most sustainable way possible.

Our first priority is to keep organics out of the waste system to begin with and this is accomplished through the kitchen’s thoughtful preparation and distribution of food based on the number of guests/students/campers. Most meals are served ‘family style’ in which a person assigned to be the ‘hopper’ takes just enough food for the people at their table. If second helpings are required the hopper goes to the kitchen again and asks for a specific number of items like buns, pieces of cheese etc. Once the group is finished their meal, they scrape their leftovers into various diversion receptacles – there is a bucket for food waste, one for garbage (paper products) and one for liquid waste. (Naturally, we do not use disposable plates or cutlery).

At certain times of the year, food waste (minus any pork products) is picked up by a local farmer to be fed to their pigs. Vegetable scraps are also sometimes offered to people with horses, chickens and goats.

Through the winter, green bin waste is sent to a facility in Durham Region to be converted into usable compost material for the community at large.

The Camp Kawartha office does it’s part by using vermi-composting, a container of small red odourless worms kept year-round inside, to break down our coffee grounds, tea bags, apple cores, egg shells and other leftovers.

This year we will be creating a 3-stage traditional outdoor composting system onsite made of recycled wood pallets which allow for good air flow, essential to breaking down organic waste. The food waste will move from bin to bin until it is no longer food waste but rich humus ready to enrich the soil of our vegetable garden. Growing our own food, recycling our waste and using it to fertilize our garden not only closes the loop of our food consumption but helps us to educate young fertile minds about how they can live sustainably too.

And that’s a rotten idea well worth keeping.