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Manchester Environmental Education Network

Bowker Vale Primary School

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The Eco team at Bowker Vale Primary were keen to run a food waste campaign. The previous year they had done a lot of work encouraging pupils to not waste their lunch and the team clearly wanted to continue focusing on this issue. So after a session exploring how waste could be reduced or diverted through recycling or composting it was agreed to set up a composting system which would also support the schools food growing ventures.

Once the team had organised the area where the composting was to be set up and organised the distribution of the green caddies the food waste began to arrive. The team were keeping an eye on how much was being collected: ‘We have weighed the compost a few times and I have worked out that it is maybe averaging 5KG a day’ so the bins were filling up quite quickly.

The team collected the fruit waste from across the school and added brown material from the woodland next to the school to keep the mix dry. However, during the warm month of June they found that they needed to add water to keep the mixture moist enough.

It was also evident that despite being near a woodland few worms or other creatures had been attracted to inhabit the bins so various forms of compost accelerator were added, including some worm castings, or worm poo. Coming into contact with worm poo led to a discussion about what soil is made from and the different types of soil they used or could be found in the locality. In response to this, a new activity emerged, which asked people to identify different types of soil and decide the kinds of plants that would best grow in them.

It was at this point the team agreed to come to the Youth Sustainability Conference. Given that every school attending had been invited to run an activity stall to share their knowledge with other schools, the team agreed to run the soil activity.

On the day their efforts were very well received by the other participants, so much so that when the Sustainability Lead from Manchester City Football Club decided which school should win a prize for the best stall Bowker Vale won.

Not only had their activity been considered very interesting but their campaign posters, which were created in one of the workshops, also struck a winning note.

The school intends to run an Eco Fair in the new academic year to build on their knowledge and to share it with their community. The aim is also to ensure that some of the activities the pupils wanted to do, such as a clothes swap, are incorporated into the event.

Following the Summer holidays the pupils returned to school and were very interested in discovering what had happened in their compost bins…

And what lovely compost they discovered! Having harvested the September vegetables from their garden and set up a market stall where people could buy fresh food, the team are now confident that they can improve their soil for next year’s harvest.

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