The Compost Diaries 

Once upon a time I worked for an urban agriculture group called City Farmer and wrote a book about my adventures there. The book was called Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator, Edible Essays on City Farming. In the book I talked about composting, growing food in the city, waterwise gardening, lust and love, natural lawn care, and a whole lot about poop. I also talked about my urban agriculture tour of Cuba that got me thinking about some issues beyond the garden gate. Like how secure our own food supply was and whether fair trade really was fair. And that set me off on more study and more tours – a coffee farm tour of Guatemala and to India for a visit with some feisty farmers fighting for the right to save their own seeds. Then I began to write another book, this one on the politics of food, it’s called Something’s Rotten in Compost City, A Primer on the Politics of Food (Smashwords Edition, 2011).

In 2009, I decided to start a blog that would continue the conversation I started with the Diary and extend the themes and basically give me a place to rant without an editor to reign me in. Yes, there would be some info on composting there, but it would venture far and wide. I would be looking at inspiring people and projects, resilient systems and the innovative ways folks are cultivating community and more livable and sustainable lives. So basically anything would go; it was a compost heap after all.

I was active on the blog until 2016. This blog now serves more as an archive of my work in the food movement and sustainability, but I still may post from time to time.

About Spring Gillard

After abandoning a successful advertising career, Spring Gillard worked at City Farmer, an urban agriculture group for 14 years. Her book Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator, Edible Essays on City Farming (New Society, 2003) recounts her adventures there. The book won a Garden Globe award of achievement from the Garden Writers of America. She has been published in numerous local and international media including Audubon, Organic Gardening, the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail. Her second book, was on the politics of food.

Spring has spoken at events across North America including the Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver Garden Shows and was keynote speaker at the American Community Gardening Conference in Toronto. She has given talks, developed and delivered courses, workshops and tours for numerous organizations and academic institutions including Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of British Columbia (UBC).

She has been interviewed on BBC radio, had a regular radio segment on CBC’s North by Northwest, was a popular and repeat guest on CBC Almanac, Sounds Like Canada and The Vicki Gabereau TV Show.

Spring sat on the Vancouver Food Policy Council for two and a half years and volunteered with the Westside Food Security Collaborative. She is an associate at the Centre for Sustainable Community Development at Simon Fraser University where she co-taught the Applications Course (2006-2011) for a certificate program in sustainable community development jointly offered with City Program.

Until 2017, Spring planned special events, organized green tours and helped promote a variety of groups working on sustainability issues under her own communications company, Garden Heart Productions. She specialized in food systems and waste management planning.

Spring has a Masters degree in Adult Education. She currently works at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Learning Exchange in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

Despite moving beyond her composting career, Spring is still known to make random bin checks at the homes of unsuspecting family and friends.


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