Dragon on the roof
The ‘Dragon’ has been enormously popular with students
The ‘Dragon’, as the new Ridan Composter is nicknamed, has been enormously popular with students, expanding their curriculum from seed to table to now encompass table to seed, since it landed on the rooftop micro-farm garden in February 2018.
Raising awareness of the life-growth-decomposition-decay-rebirth cycles around us in Nature, the Ridan Composter enables students to transform food waste into the valuable resource of worm-compost and truly experience the whole of the cycle of life.
A great addition to students’ Practical Skills Therapeutic Education, this worm-composting project is inspiring several similar projects across Ruskin Mill Trust.
Students are involved on a daily basis in collecting, separating and transforming kitchen and Hive Café food waste into valuable fertility building worm-compost.
The process starts with a thermal aerobic pasteurising process in our Ridan Compost tumbler on the Argent College rooftop garden, followed by the second stage worm-composting process located in our basement in special maturation bins. The living compost, rich with worm-castings, is then transported back up to the rooftop micro-farm becoming food for our soil and garden plants, fruit and vegetables, thus closing the cycle.
“A fun way to engage students”
Tutors report that the daily usage of the Ridan crank handle system is a fun way to engage students in its progress, as many enjoy the varying resistance of the handle and the regularity and rhythm of the turning. Confidence and self-esteem are boosted when they are able to reap nutrient-rich rewards.
The Ridan Dragon makes for a socially inclusive learning tool, inspiring experiential education in chemistry, biology, the environment and organic horticulture.
For the whole project to be successful, it was important to approach the composting project holistically, not just as a technical composting problem, but also by raising awareness about the importance of reclaiming our food waste, and emphasising the importance of good source separation.
To explain and publicise the composting process and the ecological benefits, staff worked together with well known local comic artist Hunt Emerson to create high quality educational cartoon posters to put the important messages across.
Students were involved in the design of the posters, and also voted for the emblematic name for our composting worm heroine – Wendy the Worm, of course.
So, all in all, Argent College students have not just benefited in learning for themselves about the benefits of food waste composting, they are actively spreading the message of the importance of the circular economy to the general public, via the Hive Café. This flagship project has already inspired new Ridan Worm Composters at Sunfield, Glasshouse College, and High Riggs, with more to follow at Ruskin Mill College and Upper Grange in Stroud.