Tag Archives: compost

Returning Fertility to the Soil using Food Waste. Like a horse!

Schumacher College has developed an international reputation for nature-based education around ecology and sustainibility. They understand soil, growing, horticulture and compost. That is why they have been using a Ridan food waste composting system for over 8 years.

Gardens at Schumacher

Learning about nature, living and working with nature and living in a sustainable way have been the foundation of Schumacher teaching for over 25 years. The learning environment includes the garden and kitchen as well as the classroom, enhancing our roots and connection to the soil.
Commercial Food Waste Composter
Eating at Schumacher is a fantastic experience, most of the food has only traveled a few yards from garden to table, so it is totally fresh and wonderful. Food is grown and harvested all year, with some under glass there is never a shortage. Keeping the soil in good condition is vital and that is where compost comes in.

Garden waste, food waste and human waste are all composted in order to enrich the soil and improve fertility. The Ridan forms the basis for all food waste composting, wood pellets are added in order to create the right carbon/nitrogen ratio and what emerges goes through maturation in boxes for 8 to 10 weeks before use. There is a compost toilet, and covered windrows for humanure and garden waste respectively.

‘The Ridan is a wonderful thing’, writes Brenda. ‘It stands like a comedy horse outside the Linhay. And pretty much like a horse what goes in at one end is transformed , by the alchemic process of microbial digestion, into fresh and nutritious compost as it comes out of the other!

If you’re shy or wary of feeding the Ridantake your courage, a friend and a bucket of scraps with you for your first encounter. Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite but as you lift the lid you may swoon a little as it’s fruity odour and the moist heat of decay hit you. Tip the scraps in with a sense of virtue, follow that with a few scoops of wood pellets and away you go! Then take turns as one of you cranks the handle whilst the other watches the back end evacuating.

compost garden

compost produce

Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project schools get 10% discount!

We are very proud to be offering a 10% discount on all Large and Medium Ridan Composters to schools signed up to Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project.  Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project aims to empower primary school teachers to integrate growing and cooking into the school day.  They offer a range of ideas, resources and support to  help teachers equip students with the knowledge and confidence to cook and grow from scratch.  The heart of the project is all about food; where it comes from, how to cook it and how it affects your body.  Jamies Garden Kitchen Project is designed to inspire children’s eating habits for a lifetime!  The team at Jamies Kitchen Garden Project are passionate and keen.  They realise that teachers are stretched and no two schools are the same so their resources are designed to empower teachers to deliver fantastic lessons supporting the curriculum. 


Jamie's Kitchen Garden Project
Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project

We at Ridan  feel we sit perfectly alongside Jamies Kitchen Garden Project as composting can close that loop to demonstrate a sustainable solution to food waste.  If students can grow their own food and cook it then why not recycle any food waste to make compost to grow more?  So check out Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project for more information.

Groundwork, west midlands supply funding for city community garden to recycle food waste.

Groundwork UK, west midlands supply funding to recycle food waste. 

Most of our composters are delivered to businesses and organisations wishing to reduce food waste collection costs and make their business more sustainable.  

Ridan at Summerfield Greenhouse site
Ridan at Summerfield Greenhouse site

Every now and again we deliver a composter to a site run by passionate volunteers all working hard to enrich each other’s lives and just make the world a better place.  The Summerfield Greenhouse site was just that.  The site is located right next to Birmingham City Hospital.  It was cleared by volunteers from Lloyds bank as well as NHS trust workers from Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals.  With greenhouses, raised beds, bees, a cosy community centre and a whole host of willing volunteers the site was teaming with life.  Green fingered enthusiasts were keen to show off their little inner city sanctuary and demonstrate the fruits of their labour.

Groundwork UK provided funding for composting

Groundwork, west midlands have supplied the funding for two small composters.  They will be fed a mixed diet of garden waste and food waste left over by a local café which already sources ‘waste’ food donated from supermarkets!  The rich compost produced will be fed straight back into the greenhouses and beds on site and managed by volunteers.  The projects aim is to encourage healthy living and is part of a whole web of projects all over Birmingham. 

Volunteers showing off their produce.

The idea being that people are encouraged to walk between gardens, parks, allotments and open spaces as well as museums library’s and cafes.  There are a host of activities run in all the spaces all year round and anyone and everyone is encouraged to get involved.  A spot of gardening is literally what Doctors are prescribing these days!

Stallcombe House

Stallcombe House header


Stallcombe House is a residential community for adults with learning disabilities. It provides a happy and safe work place with a holistic and organic approach to personal health and the living environment. Appropriately located on Sanctuary Lane, Stallcombe house is just outside Exeter in South Devon. The gardens and house provide the perfect setting for the range of therapeutic and developmental activities on offer. Some of the many sustainable initiatives at Stallcombe House include an organic garden, water bore hole, reed bed, bio mass boiler and solar array as well as a Ridan Food Waste composter recycling all food waste produced on site!

Stallcombe House picWinners of Sustainable Ethos and Best Overall Business categories at the Devon Environmental Business Initiative Awards 2015

Excellent nutrition in every way is also part of the Stallcombe ethos, so the food is largely organic and much of it is grown on site, as such it is delicious and there aren’t many leftovers! But fresh food preparation creates a lot of trimmings which in turn create some fantastic compost which is used to enrich the soil in these wonderful productive gardens. Gardening and composting is a joint operation enjoyed by both staff and residents to the benefit of everyone.

Stallcombe pic

‘The Ridan Composter is the ideal solution to our former problem of cooked waste disposal. It also fits in with our sustainable ethos within our community. Our residents supported by staff are involved with the process that is so beneficial to our environment. We are now looking to increase the amount of food waste inputted, which in turn will reduce the payback time to under three years. During our initial setting up Dan from Ridan was always available over the phone to help us resolve any hick ups we discovered. The composter has proved itself to be a very worthwhile investment. Well done Ridan!’

Tom, manager, Stallcombe house

Financials –

Initial costs £4270, Large Ridan + 3 Maturation Boxes
Annual savings total £1110/year (£360 on compost and £750 in waste collections)Food waste added/week: 200Litres
Compost made/year: 3000Litres
Reduction in CO2 emissions: 10 tonnes/year

Ridan orders a take out. The Vegware trials.

With less daylight hours and the temptation to stay wrapped up indoors, winter seemed the perfect time to conduct a Ridan Vegware compatibility test at the Grampus Inn!

The Grampus pub is a local gem nestled in the beautiful Lee Valley, North Devon.  Vegware sent a sample box; a broad range of their products to try in the Ridan.

vegware catering containers
Sample of Vegware products

So who are Vegware?  Founded in 2006 in Edinburg, Uk, they ‘pioneered the development and manufacture of eco friendly catering disposables and food packaging. Thier products are stylish, functional, economic and sustainable. The Vegware range of 250+ compostable products spans cutlery through to tableware, napkins, hot and cold drink cups, and takeaway packaging.’

The Grampus is a fantastic quirky pub, just back from Lee beach in Lee valley, North Devon. The proprietor, Bill Harvey, is well known locally for his fiddle playing (in the band M’Larkey) his onsite brewery and his three legged friend Lucy who inspired the brew ‘hoppydog’. The pubs is well respected for good food and great company.  Bill has worked hard to make The Grampus a more sustainable business with a woodchip boiler heating the building and water, much of his electricity is sourced from solar panels and now a Ridan Composter converts all his food waste into rich compost for his garden where he grows produce onsite for the kitchen. He has crafted his own range of beers, the waste materials of which are also fed through the Ridan.

The experiment:

Samples cut up into pieces

We split the collection into two samples and treated them in different ways.

The first sample we cut up into small pieces and fed into the Ridan.  Small pieces as we didn’t want it to interfere with the paddle system inside the Ridan.  What came out two weeks later was put straight into the maturation bins.

The second sample was layered into the maturation bins with compost fresh out of the Ridan.


Vegware containers being recycled in a Ridan composter
Looking into the Ridan from above the inlet.
Vegware containers being recycled in a maturation box
Vegware samples layered in the maturation bin.



composted Vegware take away box after 6-8 weeks

The results were interesting.  None of the products had a negative effect on the Ridan Process, both the Ridan and the maturation bins were hot with the Vegware products in them.  The two different methods did not seem to have a vastly different effect on the samples.  The factor which seemed to dictate how quickly the Vegware products broke down was the material they were made from: Paper, Card and Plam leaf materials broke down quickly and only mainly composted fragments remained at 6-8 weeks

The NatureFlex/PLA/CPLA based products didn’t break down as quickly.  Fragments were still clearly found at 12 weeks.  However at 16 weeks the maturation bin was emptied and spread out on the garden and no fragments were found at this stage.  It may be that fragments found at 12 weeks were at the top or on the side of the maturation bins where it is cooler.

In conclusion

It made no difference whether Vegware products were fed into the Ridan or layered in the maturation bins with compost.  So we recommend the layering in the maturation bins when using Vegware with the Ridan.

Paper, card and palm leaf products were fully composted at 12 weeks.

NatureFlex, PLA and CPLA products took longer but did eventually break down more like 16 weeks.

We do not recommend that Vegware should be used as an alternative carbon source, and it should be added in moderation.

EAGer to start school composting at Ellon Academy

Ellon Academy gets composting

School composting

Susan Swallow, head of the Ellon Acadamy Gardeners or EAGer bunch was excited to see us when we arrived at Ellon school with their brand new Ridan composter just after Easter.  We went up to deliver to the brand new £35 million pound purpose built Academy on Tuesday the 29th of March.  The plan is for all the organic waste from the kitchens to be turned into lovely rich compost for the gardens around the site.  The EAGer bunch are a group of students that meet every week.  Their aims are to ‘build a garden and grow lots of edible produce and encourage wildlife with flowers and habitat boxes’.

We wrapped up and braced ourselves against the Scottish climate and got the composter set up and ready for a presentation talk to school staff and members of Ellon Resource Centre.  Both the school and members of the Resource Centre will have a role in maintaining the gardens and most importantly the composter.  Students at the school will be responsible during term time with the daily operation of the Ridan.  Their tasks will include collection of the organic food waste from the kitchen and sawdust from the Design Technology department.  They will also have to load the composter, turn the handle each day as well as load the compost into the maturation bins.


Pupils from the enrichment program and some small curricular classes will be responsible for filling the RIDAN and turning the handle each day.  We are thrilled to have this ability to make our own compost on site.  The funding was awarded as part of an “Access to Education” grant for us to create a composting challenge.  The challenge will involve other types of composting – set up as an orienteering task around the new site so watch this space for more as we build the different composting stations!


Funding for the Ridan composter came from the Bags of Help grant from Tesco.

Tesco started the scheme with money generated by the 5p carrier bag charge.  The school won second place which gave them £10,000 towards setting up a composting challenge.  The challenge involves multiple different types of composting set up around the school grounds, each one a base on an orienteering task.  The Ridan is first base so far!  We look forward to hearing about all the others as they arrive on site.

As always it is a pleasure to meet enthusiastic people who are working hard to set valuable examples to the next generation.  Susan Swallow is one of the

Cullompton Community College start their onsite food waste recycling scheme with a Big Bang!

Cullompton Community College start their onsite food waste recycling scheme with a Big Bang!


One of our latest and more interesting deliveries was to a secondary school, Cullompton Community College. Many schools opt to recycle their food waste with a Ridan but what was interesting about this delivery was it was all instigated, researched and pioneered by the students.

cullompton community college students show off their new Ridan food waste composter.
cullompton community college students show off their Ridan food waste composter.

The students took part in an annual Go4Set competition which takes place over 10 weeks and sees a small team of 12-14 year olds tackle a project aimed at bringing education and industry together. The projects are often based around the school building or an aspect of the local community and designed to inspire students towards a STEM (Science, technology, engineering and Math) career. The Go4Set group from Cullompton took their ideas to the Big Bang Fair in Exeter, returning victorious they were determined to see their ideas implemented. Starting with their very own Ridan food waste composter!

With a Ridan the school will be able to recycle ALL their kitchen food waste into quality compost that will be spread on the school grounds.

This closed loop system is a fantastic demonstration of sustainability for all students, staff and parents.   ‘Cullompton Community College, located in East Devon, is a caring, friendly and high achieving community of learners of  529 students aged 11-16.’ The students who started the project are currently working with the present year 7s to develop a Green team to take the project forward and oversee the management of the Ridan composter.  Projects like the Go4Set project are fantastic opportunities for students; but to see a school actually take the next step and implement the students’ findings is great.  It illustrates to the great minds of tomorrow that with hard work and researched evidence they can influence and improve the world around them.