January 20, 2021
Form 3 Students Compost to Help School Farm
Walking into Tim Allerton’s Form 3 science class, you are first struck with the bright, fresh scent of oranges followed by an aroma of coffee. No, Allerton is not operating a charming cafe that serves fresh fruit. Rather, the ingredients wafting through the air are the elements of a composting project the students are engaged in.
Earlier in the year, the class learned about soil chemistry and the components necessary for plants to grow successfully. The class took soil from the plots in the Red KOw Farm and tested it to examine the level of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. Through their testing, the students discovered that the plots lacked nitrogen. Currently, the students are composting various foodstuffs and see how they aerobically break down. In the spring, the students will take their compost, remediate the plots, and test to see what else the soil needs to be rich and healthy. Allerton said that the effects of remediation can occur relatively quickly if the students stir the compost into the existing soil.
Another goal for the class is to open their eyes to the amount of wasted food. Allerton stated that over 40 percent of our food is wasted, which then ends up in landfills. That discarded food produces a huge amount of methane gas, a much more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The students kept a kitchen journal and recorded the amount of food that was thrown out over time. Allerton said the idea was not to raise awareness, not to have the students feel guilty. “I want them to think and to question. Do I need to make this much food? Am I going to throw out half of it? Can I be using less, buying less, or buying locally? These are things we are going to examine,” Allerton said.
Bassil Chugtai ’24 remarked that he was unaware of the various other materials that can be composted, such as leaves, coffee grounds, and even sawdust. Although he does not compost at home, he is open to the idea. “I think it’s a great idea, and it’s saving our world and the environment. Once I’m older, and my generation has kids, I wonder what they will experience and what problems they will have to go through because of our and our parents’ mistakes. With how much food we are wasting and food being the major contributor to landfills, composting is a great idea to stop this environmental change from happening,” he said.