Tag Archives: new zealand

Bokashi a hit in restaurants and offices in New Zealand

Just a few years ago Bokashi was something that people quietly did in their homes and back yards. A bit embarrassing to discuss it with the neighbors, bit of a hippy warning.

Now it’s really gone mainstream and can be found in the best of restaurants and the most professional of offices. This film from New Zealand, where Bokashi has been building popularity and credibility for nearly 20 years now, is inspiring.

The Mudbrick vineyard and restaurant on Waiheke is no small place — lots of stars, stunning location and a fabulous kitchen garden. Would go there in a minute if I could! But even though their wines are no doubt brilliant, the thing that impresses me is that they’ve got it. They have created a food loop.

Each chef has a bucket for food scraps, no big deal. When the work is done the buckets are taken out to ferment in barrels and ultimately dug back down into the kitchen garden. When you see it on a film like this it all looks so, well, obvious. And they haven’t made it any more complicated than it needs to be. Just a whole lot of kiwi common sense combined with wanting the best possible soil for their veggies.

That the vineyard is located on an island (in the Hauraki Gulf, just outside Auckland where I grew up) means it makes even more sense. Rubbish disposal on any island is difficult, so setting up a food loop in this way is logical, and I would imagine economical.

Unfortunately not all of us have a vineyard to run, so the office stories are more likely closer to home. How hard is it, really, when you think about it? Every office has it’s food waste, and here in the film they make it look pretty easy. Brilliant to see how people think it’s cool to be going home from work these days with a bucket of bokashi to dig into the veggie patch at home. The food loop strikes again!

Admittedly, New Zealand has  a pretty nice climate. Even in the cold south the ground rarely freezes, in the north you can grow veggies year round. Not tropical but for those of us living in Northern Europe (I’m in Sweden even if I grew up in New Zealand), it looks pretty comfortable.

So we have to be innovative.

Look for new ways of doing big scale bokashi. After all, when spring comes we need every bit of fertilizer we can get our hands on so even if the process involves a bit of winter storage it pays off big time when the spring comes.

My current best suggestion for winter storage would be to store bokashi in bottomless barrels on-site in the garden. Something we could all have a go at testing and compare notes? Obviously it needs to ferment indoors for a couple of weeks. But then to drop the fermented bokashi into a barrel with a good lid isn’t hard work. Line up the bottomless barrels on the land that needs fertilizing the best then let them fill up over the winter.

When the spring warmth comes the microbes, worms and other critters will spring into action. They’ll work the nutrients down into the soil and probably make a faster start on the gardening than you will. When the time comes to prepare the land, you can remove the barrel, dig down the ready and not-quite-so-ready bokashi into the soil and you’re ready to go.

Not a lot of carrying and lifting there. And a great way of making a food loop small or big that stretches over the winter.

Worth giving it a go? Let us know if you’ve got any good ideas on the subject!

/Jenny

ps the photo below is a 120 liter bokashi bin we’re currently testing here in Sweden in an urban gardening project, available from Agriton in Holland. It’s a bit hard to see, but it has a tap for draining off bokashi fluid, a metal grid in the bottom for separating the solids and liquids, and a pretty airtight lid with a good catch. Will let you know how it goes!

Photo: Jenny Harlen

Earthquake cleanup using EM in Christchurch

So many New Zealanders have lost their home and their hope to the recent earthquake in Christchurch. One small light in the dark is the work our colleagues in New Zealand are doing with EM. They have loaded up trucks with liquid EM (Effective Microorganisms) and are spraying it on contaminated areas to help fight the inevitable spread of odour and germs. Basically it’s a case of getting good bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria before they get a hold.

It’s not till you see it happening you realize how much follows in the wake of an earthquake. Cleanup is not just about buildings, it’s also about preventing the spread of disease.

Good luck guys! Well done!

As they say on the YouTube clip…

A devastating earthquake in Christchurch on Feb 22nd 2011 has left the City with extensive liquefaction and raw sewage covering large urban areas.
EM is being used to spray over this smelly contamination to help control the bad odours and to help control the pathogens (bad bugs) that are present.
EM has a history of being used in many disaster recovery situations.
Naturefarm in conjunction with Interclean and CityCare are pleased to be making a difference by using EM to help this clean-up process.

More info here:

http://emrojapan.com/emnews/content/380.html

Create your own Eden!

Isn’t it a great picture? Check the website here, it’s just excellent. A bunch of councils in New Zealand have gone together to produce this site and it really works. Simple, friendly, and pedagogic. Suddenly all this Bokashi stuff doesn’t seem so hard any more, it’s just a good-old down-to-earth way of creating your own little paradise. Here and now.

One of the reasons I’m sitting here in Sweden carrying on and on about Bokashi is because I’m actually from New Zealand. I’ve seen how over the last ten years Bokashi has become more and more part of everyday life there, not an overnight sensation but just something that’s gradually crept into the way things are done. And coming from there I know that you’d have to look far to find a country of more down-to-earth people. This is not the land of hocus-pocus. So if it works there it should work anywhere. On the other hand, New Zealand is not a particularly urban country — even if most people live in towns they still have gardens.

And you have to admit the climate makes life easy, it’s not that hard to go dig a hole any time of year.

But all the same. Keep an eye on what these kiwis are doing. They may show us yet!

Website: www.createyourowneden.org.nz

Bokashi kids in Gisborne

OK, so I have a soft spot for stories from New Zealand, but the thing is they’re doing a really good job downunder in getting kids involved in Bokashi composting and growing.

Here’s a nice little story from the Scoop news site in NZ talking about how kids at the Te Kainga Whaiora Childrens Health Camp are getting involved in transforming the food waste from the kitchen into soil where they can grow new veggies.

Spot on.

And really encouraging to see everyone getting involved: kids, council staff, and the local community. And by the way, whanau means family in maori. A wide and warm concept.

Bokashi thread with kiwi flavour

Here’s a thread on Bokashi composting that’s worth having a look at if you’re curious on what people out there in the “real world” think. Actually I think many of the postings are from New Zealand –my old homeland 🙂 but also a country that’s become a Bokashi hotspot in recent years.

As you can see it’s not only me who is a bit of a Bokashi fan/nerd/passionista! Go on, add your comments, share your successes and air your doubts. The more of us who talk Bokashi and spread the word the better! Bucket by bucket it’s gradually making the world a better place.

Bokashi world: Gisborne, NZ

Photo: www.new-zealand-travel.org

Here’s a nice down-to-earth confirmation that Bokashi is A Good Thing.

On one of my random web searches I just turned up a letter-to-the-editor written last month to a local newspaper in Gisborne, which is a lovely town in the North Island of New Zealand. If you enjoy a bottle of NZ chardonnay there’s a  good chance it comes from around that way!

Anyhow, it was a simple letter, written simply to thank the local Gisborne council for a good initiative: introducing the Bokashi system into the area a couple of years ago. In the note, Sandy Carter wrote that:

It entails placing the Bokashi’s contents on the ground, covering and then planting potatoes, sweet corn or any vegetable you choose on top. It gives those plants a head start.

After a period of time the soil becomes friable and dark, an asset to any vegetable or flower garden.

It’s a nice friendly letter, encouraging in these days of crisis. It’s in the online archives if you click here in The Gisborne Herald.

PS It’s a great photo isn’t it? Looks like paradise. Especially sitting here surrounded by snow in the Swedish winter…