The Compost Module

In 1992, I formed a group called Kids Compost BC to bid on a contract with the BC Ministry of Environment. The job was to produce a module on composting that would be added to their existing Eco Education Program. The program’s Green Team toured the province conducting workshops on recycling and other environmental themes. Our little ragtag team of composting compatriots won the bid, in partnership with Force Four Productions, who would help with the design and production of the print materials and head up the short video. It was a marvelous collaboration and we had a lot of fun doing it.

There were several components to the module. We developed an activity booklet that teachers could use in the classroom. As I wrote it, I drew from so many places, Mary Appelhof’s great book Worms Eat My Garbage; the work that Carl Grimm was doing at the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, SLUG for short; and Schoolyard Garden Designs by John O’Brien. Activities included Compost in a Cup, Worm Bin Wizardry and the Fine Art of Decay.

We worked with Valerie Overgaard, a curriculum consultant, so that each activity had a goal area and icons that identified the key subjects. There were great people at the Ministry too, Rick Kool was the Education Coordinator at the time, a dynamo, and the brains behind the Eco Education Program. Valerie Calderwood was our main contact at the Ministry, an open and receptive presence during the contract. Our review team consisted of lower mainland teachers, Science World staff, other compost educators and Ministry of Education staff. Our working team was also brilliant and creative: Sue Ray, Elaine Chan, Nicole Thibault, Pamela Lee, the Force Four gang. Plus, we had a lot of help from City Farmer staff and the School Compost Education Group, a lower mainland/Vancouver Island consortium.

The contract was $45,000 and for that money we managed the entire project, gave them a six minute video, wrote and produced the booklet, a beautifully illustrated poster, trained the Green Team to deliver a “wormshop,” built a travelling glass front worm bin and a worm wagon to house it and all the other props and equipment.

We began the contract in August 10th of 1992 and delivered everything by September 24, 1992 – a ridiculously short time frame and I have no idea how we accomplished it for that money. Oh right, hundreds of volunteer hours went into the program. We had a letter from the R.J. Driedger, director of the Ministry’s Municipal Waste Branch, acknowledging our efforts. We launched the program shortly afterwards at the Porter Street Elementary School in Coquitlam.

The video won a Silver Birch award at the 1993 Integrated TV and Video Awards. The Green Team toured the province for many years and the compost module was its most popular offering. Although the province retained all the rights to the program, Force Four and Kids Compost BC acquired the marketing rights and sold the package all over North America for some time. I still have a few copies left.

But all good things come to an end I suppose and the Eco Education Program is no longer. It was a great program, maybe more relevant than ever. I’m sure it would still be a winner in schools. Too bad it couldn’t be dusted off and resurrected. Perhaps someone could put the bug in the ear of the Minister?

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