The High Plains Food Bank is often lucky enough to receive large donations of produce from area businesses. However, on occasion, because produce is often donated past is peak of freshness, and the amount donated is so large it cannot be distributed before it begins its journey to the other side. To put it bluntly, it rots. Fortunately, there is a way to put all of those generous donations to good use even after they've passed on. We at The Garden spent the greater part of this last week doing just that, and by that I mean composting nearly ten thousand pounds of considerably past their prime bananas. If you feel your stomach beginning to turn, please stay with me.
The idea of composting may seem gross to some. To be honest, at certain points this week, it was just that. However, by the time that last box of bananas was emptied, I found myself a little disappointed. Of course, a large part of me was ecstatic, and an even larger part was just plain tired. But there was definitely a part, small as it was, that was sad to see it come to an end. I had devoted a week to almost nothing but bananas, and then it was over. I realized that not only did The Garden get piles and piles of compost to use for this spring's planting, but that I was walking away with much more.
Here are my 5 lessons learned through the art of composting:
1. Thinking is important.
Nothing frees the mind to wander (or wonder) quiet like manual labor. Put yourself to a task that is physically, but not mentally demanding, and it's amazing where your mind will end up. We live in a very distracting world. Screens and flashing lights crowd every aspect of our visual field. It's important to take the time to escape and just think.
2. Difficulty builds relationships.
If you were to ask any two people to dig a very large hole, they would most likely come out much closer than when they began. Doing a difficult task with someone breeds conversation, and completing one provides an instant connection that often sticks.
3. Independence feels good.
Could we go out and purchase compost? Sure. But anyone who has ever completed anything themselves knows that it leaves you with something that the convenience of purchasing it can never replace. Besides, we are always working to be good stewards of the resources we are given..
4. Whoever said, "One man's trash, is another man's treasure," really knew what they were talking about.
5. We are almost always creating something, whether we know it or not.
When I started composting on Monday, I was following a format. Layer of dirt. Water. Layer of bananas. Water. Repeat. By Friday I was creating miniature ecosystems and making sure I was taking care of everything involved. Sometimes even the most seemingly meaningless tasks carry much more importance than we realize.
While making your own compost pile is not rocket science, there is science involved. Click here to find out more. Or better yet, come and see us and we would be glad to talk you through it.
What does it feel like to finally finish composting nearly 10,000 pounds of bananas?
Find out here.