Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Return to your Roots and Compost

Jerusalem, June, 1998

The Compost Project is a regional non-profit organization which provides technical and practical composting resources for homes, schools and communities. Ecosystem-based wastewater treatment resources are also available. Internships and field-research projects are available.
For further information, contact:
Elisha Ruth Kaufman - 050 777 332
or Shmuel and Allison Offanansky - 02 6250480 (till August).

Families, schools and community members are being encouraged to: 'Return to Your Roots and Compost' by The Compost Project, coordinated jointly by

Beginning this summer, activities throughout Jerusalem will promote composting. All types of composting -- from:

The importance of compost for community-based environmental protection and healthy plants and soil will be strongly emphasized. "Compost is the foundation of healthy soil for natural farming and gardening," said Elisha Ruth Kaufman, coordinator of The Compost Project and well-known agroecology activist. "By composting, every person can reduce landfill and pollution problems. Composting is a key way to care for nature and teach earth stewardship'

"Successful gardening depends on the health of your soil. Gardeners typically enrich their soil with commercial fertilizers. This is an expensive substitute for the real thing - compost." Composting is nature's way of recycling. It transforms organic matter (such as kitchen food scraps, wilted flowers, grass clippings, leaves, or coffee grounds) into humus, the heart of the soil ecosystem.

Composting is simple - all you do is mix green moist plant matter (vegetable food scraps, grass clippings, green seedless weeds, etc.) with brown dry plant matter (straw, dry leaves or yard trimmings). Mix in a bit of soil. Add farm manure if available. Keep your compost moist and covered with soil and leaves. Or just bury vegetable food scraps in a corner of your yard. Do not add meat or dairy - this attracts dogs and cats.

In our region, at least fifty percent of the garbage are organics that can be composted. Compost is a low-cost high quality soil amendment that can decrease garbage by half. Composting saves money. Contamination from agrochemicals is a main cause of water and soil contamination in Israeli and Palestinian lands. If compost is used instead of agrochemicals, the soil is enriched with life instead of polluted. Compost suppresses many soil and plant diseases by nourishing the microbial communities that protect against pathogens.

"With over 400 tons of organic matter going to landfills every day from Jerusalem, the need to compost is urgent." said Naomi Tzur, head of SPNI Jerusalem branch. SPNI is coordinating a city-wide 'Sustainable Jerusalem' program, of which composting is an important part. Anyone can compost anywhere, with the help of the Compost Project resources. Visit the Compost Corner in the SPNI Ecology Action Center (13 Helena Ha Malka off Rehov Jaffo) every Monday from 4 to 6 to pick up a free 'how-to-compost' brochure. See our model compost and earthworm bins and compost demonstrations. Bins are available at a discount after our hour and a half compost workshop. Come on Mondays and help us develop Ecology Action displays and resources.

Add the benefit of landfill diversion to the value of compost for improved soil quality, while saving money - and the reasons to compost are compelling. "I encourage us all to 'return to our roots and compost'." said Mario Levy, director of the Israel Bio-Organic Agriculture Association. "Composting a key way to protect our environment and our land. By composting we restore the soil food web that sustains us. Not only can composting reduce garbage, it returns rich nutrients and beneficial organisms to the soil. It is vital soil that nourishes the basis of life. Compost is the best organic food for plants."

From Zevel to Zahav (Garbage to Gold) - The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) is pioneering a compost program in the Bethlehem area with regional outreach. Palestinian farmers are organizing together to learn appropriate composting technologies to recover organic matter on farms and the vegetable matter discarded daily from shuks and homes. 'Organic farming is a priority for Palestinian farmers. Through ecological use of scarce resources, communities can be more self-reliant and sustainable. Sustainability is the foundation for mutually beneficial regional cooperation. Composting helps us build a sustainable future.'

PARC is developing several experimental organic farms for hands-on training and field research. A 15 duman family farm in Zatara near Bethlehem is setting up an 'integrated farm' to recycle all nutrients on the farm. Wastewater will be treated with solar-algea/constructed wetlands/aquaculture ponds, and used for irrigation. Composting will return organic matter to the soil. The farm is being 'permacultured' to harvest water for crops.

Jerusalem Calendar of Activities:
Tuesdays, Community Gardening and Compost Workshops 2-6 Havah Hakliet - 37 Rehov Yehuda, Baka
Mondays, 4-6 PM - SPNI Ecology Action Center.
Formal Opening - the last Monday in August.

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Revised Tuesday, May 16, 1999

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture