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Men & Compost vs. Women & Compost in Community Gardens

  • Subject: [cg] Men & Compost vs. Women & Compost in Community Gardens
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2004 16:06:11 EST

Friends,

I'm stepping into it here, but what the hell...

Men and women are different.  Get used to it, and work with it!

Compost depends of regular maintenance, sifting, using, routine and responsibility for the mess. Some great guys like the Seattle, WA community garden compost Gods and Godesses do an amazing job with a quite extensive composting system.  I am in awe of what guys like Jon Rowley and others have done. The compost made from the millions of  flowers left over  from 9/11 Memorial Services in Seattle (i.e., the "Million Flower Compost") was the absolute sweetest organic compost I have ever touched, smelled, used and almost ate.  It is primo and is the triumph of large piles and constant care and tending. What works here is the same idea that makes bourgeois cru Bordeaux taste so much better in magnums and jeraboams - more volume area cooking away.  But careful attention must be paid, something that guys and gals who work like Jon Rowley have done. 

However:

Most large three pile systems in community gardens depend on male upper body strength to make them happen.  And guys, when they are involved in volunteer activities are socialized for great massive, sporadic he-man type efforts, but sometimes the concept of the daily "stirring of the pot" eludes them. 

Women, who generally work men under the table in our gardens, and are really good at the daily detail that it takes to keep the world going, i.e., the "stirring of the pot", are NOT endowed with great upper body strength.  So while they would ordinarily be making sure that the composting is kept up, they can be daunted by the huge mass of material that is left for the "mighty men" to handle with when they deign to deal with it....after a few beers.

So, at the Clinton Community Garden,  Clinton Community Garden having done the "mighty man" type of composting, and found it didn't work, even when fueled by several six packs of beer, decided to have a whole bunch of those cheapie, black plastic bins in both the front and back sections of our garden. Being one of those "mighty men" types, I pooh-poohed it, but found that lo and behold, we got more compost and less back strain. 

When I led Jon Rowley through the CCG, he looked pained, because compared to his magnificent Seattle composting chateau, ours were really small beer and quite frankly, would never produce a product as superior as his.

I agree with Jon -his way is better, all around, but hard to do with a bunch of volunteers without a master composter or a regular supply of "mighty men"  who have the attention to detail that he does.

However, all of our little compost bins are "adopted" by volunteers, and we even have their names on them, honoring their contribution of time and effort.  And because they are often managed by women, and of a size where it is stirring, sifting and not herculean in terms of upper body strength, these compost bins are actually maintained, managed and used.  The quality, granted, is not primo, but instead of huge masses of uncomposted greenery in huge piles, this "small batch compost works for us.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman
Volunteer,
Clinton Community Garden





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