Category: Observations

When municipalities compost, costs/taxes go up.

By , 2 August 2012 16:43

Municipal/Regional composting is a good policy but there is a cost:

From Suffolk, UK:

A lack of home composting cost Suffolk taxpayers around £5million last year, council bosses have revealed.

Residents are now being urged to start their own compost bins, heaps and wormeries in a bid to keep waste out of black and brown bins.

Food and garden waste left in brown bins made up a third of all Suffolk household waste in 2011 and cost Suffolk County Council £3.8 million to compost. Compostable waste dumped in black bins, which was then disposed of in landfill, cost a further £1.5m.

Now councillor Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for environment and property management, has urged residents to do their bit to lower the waste bill and improve their gardens.

Presenting a report, she said: “If just 1% of this material was home composted instead, the council would save £50,000 per year, and clearly if we were less successful at promoting home composting in Suffolk it would cost us dearly.” She added: “In my garden I have a compost bin and a wormery and I have put virtually nothing in my brown bin. I have the view that it’s my waste and I want to manage it.”

“As well as creating great free fertiliser for the garden, home composting helps towards achieving the council’s target of diverting as much waste from landfill as possible. This in turn helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mrs Chambers said: “The biggest barrier in trying to get people to compost is getting them to understand how they can do it. It does not smell or encourage rodents.”

Craig Renton, waste advisor and master composter co-ordinator for SCC, said all eight of the county’s local authorities are signed up with the National Home Compost Framework under the Suffolk Waste Partnership.

He added: “This enables Suffolk residents to buy a basic compost bin from as little as £16 (less than half the RRP). Residents can access the range of items available (including wormeries, bokashi food digesting systems) via the dedicated Suffolk website provided through the national framework.”

Its your food waste. Keep and use it in the best way possible: in your own yard. If you can’t compost, find someone in your neighbourhood who would be willing to share their compost bin with you.  Compost Here is a good resource.

Walking my dog and beautifying the 'hood

By , 1 February 2010 13:38

Over the past four months since we started fostering Chloe, I’ve been noticing the damage to lawns caused by crows and other critters going after the grubs of the European Chafer Beetle when I take her out for a walk.

A video from City Farmer explains the problem:

Last week I decided to do something about it. I created a flyer that I am distributing only to houses that have lawn damage clearly attributable to the Chafer Beetle. It isn’t hard to figure out.

Flyer: [Click for full version]

Easy Care Lawn from West Coast Seeds

We don’t need more lawns. Ideally, as the City Farmer says above, we need more vegetable gardens in our front yards like this one,

Front Yard Veggie Garden

but if you are going have a lawn, use a grass seed that doesn’t require much mowing or watering. The product above meets that criteria.

So far, I’ve walked between Cambie and Main from 16th to 19th and plan to go all the way up to 24th. Then I’ll do the same route between Cambie and Oak. It takes me about an hour at a leisurely pace and Chloe loves it too.


100 flyers: $5.55

Exercise and improving the world: Priceless


"Without the ability to grow our own food…"

By , 31 December 2009 11:30

Without the ability to grow our own food, we leave our children and grandchildren held ransom to buy food on the world market from whatever source, of whatever quality, at whatever price.

Gary Runka,

First General Manager of the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission.

Source [pdf] @


Biosa and Skunk Odour

By , 15 November 2009 16:05

This is Chloe. Wonderful dog.


Chloe on the chair

We are fostering her for , a rescue society in Vancouver.

The other day she smelled a skunk across the street and went after it with the usual results. Phew!

Fortunately, it appears she wasn’t sprayed full on so the smell wasn’t so bad, but very noticeable.

There’s a first time for everything. Did I mention it was 3:00 A.M.?

So, a quick search of the Web showed that a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda will do the job very effectively. But the ingredients were not available. They are now.

As soon as I got home, even before I searched the ‘net, I sprayed Chloe with a combination of Terra Biosa, molasses and water. Since I know that Biosa, the active ingredient of bokashi, helps stop the smells of composting, I thought it would help. I was right. There was about a 20 minute delay before we got Chloe into the bath and washed her down with a dog shampoo. Later that day, as I walking her about, I asked three strangers if they could smell the skunk odour on her.

They couldn’t. I’m pleased.

By the way, if you are looking for a dog to adopt consider Chloe. Here’s the description from :

Hi, my name is Chloe and I am a 5 yr old large mixed breed, probably some chow, possibly some schnauzer or terrier and perhaps a hint of shepherd. Everyone who meets me thinks I am pretty special. I adore people and getting lots of affection. I will sit by your side and soak up the love for as long as you will let me. I haven’t had much affection in my life so I am trying to make up for lost time. I am good with other dogs but am not particularly interested in playing with them – I prefer the company of people. I am good with little people too but I like to chase after cats and other small animals. I am a big girl, weighing in at 88 lbs and am a medium energy dog. I am not too pully on the leash but will need some training to heel. I know how to sit and come and am eager to please and very smart so I can learn whatever you would like to teach me. I am not a barker and I don’t jump up either but I will wag my tail furiously and smile from ear to ear when when you come home. As with all dogs I would love a home where someone is home most of the day or can take me with them to work. My adoption fee is $250.


Probiotics and cold symptoms

By , 26 October 2008 18:38

Although my focus is on composting, the microbial liquid I use to make bokashi is also a probiotic beverage imported into Canada as a food item. There are many good things to say about the use of probiotics and a member of my delicious network has over 87 links to scientific studies about their benefit to human health.

Earlier this week I felt a cold coming on. I was sneezing and achy and had this I-know-I’m-getting-cold feeling. And a cold was the last thing I needed. So, I drank 250ml 125ml of Vita Biosa, bundled up and went to bed. In the morning, my symptoms had not worsened and I made it through the day feeling pretty good. That night, I drank another 250mls 125mls of Vita Biosa and in the morning my cold symptoms were gone.

I know that anecdotal evidence can’t be relied on to prove effectiveness but then I found this:

A study by the Australian Institute of Sport found endurance runners given a probiotic supplement suffered less severe flu and cold symptoms than other athletes.

Their illness also generally lasted only half the time of those not taking the supplement, lead researcher Dr David Pyne said.

The volunteers were given the probiotic for four weeks and then later given a placebo capsule containing harmless starch for a further four weeks.

The supplement did not affect the athletes’ performance but it significantly shortened and softened the symptoms of the illness.

While taking placebo capsules, seven runners reported respiratory illness such as sore throat, coughs, runny nose, chest congestion and sneezing, lasting a total of 72 days.

But while on probiotics, only three runners reported illness lasting a total of 30 days. Source

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing this. It looks like I came out ahead. I’ll start taking the liquid in smaller doses on a regular basis.


It could have been a lot worse #2

By , 17 September 2008 06:31

I did not like the way the situation looked.

A scruffy man was talking to a young oriental woman on the road side of a car while I was cycling by.  I turned around, rode up to them and asked "Do you know each other?" The woman clearly said "No." To be sure, I asked again.

The guy was upset – as if I had insulted him – and told me to mind my own business. So I said  "You are standing on the street, talking to a woman in front of the door of a car. It looks like she is trying to get into her car and you are stopping her from doing that." He then started to tell me his story and the woman gave him a dollar. It turns out she had just arrived and was getting ready to shop. She did say "Thanks" to me a few times and wanted to stick around to see how things ended, but I encouraged her to leave.

The fellow continued to act as if I had insulted him and threatened that he would call the police on me! I rode away.

Notice to panhandlers: The road is not your space. Let us choose whether or not to help you when you are on the sidewalk. As much as I don’t like restricting your right to make a living, when you approach us out of our comfort zone, it is threatening no matter how benign and honest your intentions are.

That’s why I stopped and turned around.


It could have been a lot worse [#1]


What's my line?

By , 3 September 2008 20:23

Today at the Riley Park Farmers Market I met two interesting people. I cannot replay entire conversations for you but they did give me permission to take their picture. So look at the picture and try to imagine what is special/different/unique about these people:








Auschwitz survivor







Railroad engineer [drives trains for CN!]


Bonus photo:

Jane Doe






Wearing nice sunglasses [that’s all]


Before and After photos

By , 5 August 2008 10:10

Vancouver’s changing landscape:

The Vancouver Molson Indy winners circle in August 2004*


and in August 2008

VanIndy Winners Circle 2008


Olympic Village construction in November 2007

10 cranes Olympic Village - 11nov08

and in August 2008

11 cranes Olympic Village - 04Aug08


Guerrilla Gardening in September 2005

Car Barn Garden - 25Sep05

and in August 2008:

Car Barn Garden - 04Aug08


*photo by Andrastia [with permission]

To my 50 or so RSS subscribers: Who are you?

By , 5 August 2008 09:35

I really want to know.

At least half a dozen are places like Urban Vancouver where my feed gets distributed including my own subscriptions to Feedburner and FeedBlitz to make sure everything is working. That means 48 subscribers are real people.

From conversations in real life and online, I know that at least two regular readers include Rebecca and Kiera and my own records keep track of who is linking to me

But who else is reading my feed, seeing my Twitter musings, watching my Flickr photos and delicious bookmarks, checking on my business activities – friends, acquaintances, competitors? It would be nice to know.

Many pundits say that a blog is a conversation and sometimes I’m not very conversational. I don’t like re-inventing the wheel either, so despite the interest I have for composting and urban sustainability, I don’t blog news about this unless I feel it affects me or my community directly. I commend people who do blog about their passion and expertise.

Here’s the deal: if I’m on your blogroll, I’ll add you to mine. How to let me know? Leave a comment to this post. Simple. If you want to be private about it, that’s okay. Send me an email

And there’s more! For every person who comments on this post between now and August 10, 2008 I will donate $1.00 to City Farmer – Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture. Need a topic to comment on? Wish me a Happy Birthday!:-) Letting me know how long you have been reading my blog and why you like it would be good and don’t forget to include a link.

Have a great day! I know I will.



That has never happened to me before

By , 11 July 2008 02:58

InPrint Graphics

InPrint 10Jul08

is at 1935 West Broadway across the street from the big box FedEx Kinko’s*.

I have used the services of both stores which are open 24 hours but InPrint is better. Here are a few reasons why:

They let me access the internet, download files and edit them without charging me a penny.

They printed the files directly from the computer, so there were no darkened images.


They designed and printed my banner

Banner design

There is the fixed priced and the "I’ll give it to you for this much" price. The deal price is probably built in, but it feels good anyway.

However, nothing prepared me for what happened on Tuesday evening this week.

I needed more brochures printed and when I went to pick them up I discovered I had brought the wrong credit card. Ready to leave my order behind until I returned with the proper payment, I was shocked when Dave said

"Take it now."  What?

"Yeah. Yeah. Its okay. Take it now." So I did and came back a few hours later.

This is Prabhakar "Dave" Davkar


Thanks Dave!

I have experienced a casual, but professional work environment. When I went to InPrint in May, I made a decision not to worry about how long it would take get what I needed done. I haven’t tried them on a rush order yet. They are sometimes very busy so patience is required. Usually that pays off in more attention for you when most needed. And you may see some customer interactions that are worth the price of admission!




*long time Vancouverites will remember that the Kinko’s current location was also home to Cardz Computers – I worked there for six months in the early ’90s.

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