BENGALURU: While the city debates the pros and cons of composting wet waste within the household, residents of this gated community, located just outside the city limits on Mysuru road, have been happily composting waste generated not just in their households, but across the 7 acres that they inhabit.
And the bounty has been rich. Not only do they create their own compost, but they also use it to maintain lush gardens, thick groves of trees and several vegetable patches which deliver a sizeable harvest every Friday, of three types of vegetables and one fruit, enough to be distributed across 65 houses.
With no Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike support in clearing garbage, residents of Good Earth Malhar Footprints, decided in 2017 that they needed a better solution to deal with their waste. “We tied up with Hasiru Dala, a private waste management company, for our dry waste. There was still a lot of waste that could be composted and we decided to do it ourselves, ” says Ashwini Ram Bhagwat, a resident of the community, who traces her roots to Nittur.
The residents then decided to buy a shredder, which cost them around Rs 75,000 and started shredding leaves and other garden waste before putting them in compost pits.
“We created three pits within the premises. While two were reserved for leaf composting, one pit was dedicated to vermicomposting,” Ashwini explains. More than a year later, the community now gets around 3 tonnes of compost from the vermicompost pit and around 600 to 700 kilograms of compost from each batch of leaves they put into the other two pits. “We get up to 10-12 batches per year,” Ashwini says.
Additionally, another method, called Shivansh, which uses cow dung, is also used by the residents to deal with raw materials which are high in fibre content or large tree branches.
Most of the compost generated is used within the premises, making the soil fertile and ensuring that all plant life thrives. “We also create fertilizers like Panchagavya or Jeevamrutha,” Ashwini explains.
Every Friday, volunteers meet up at the vegetable gardens or trees across the 7 acres of land for the week’s harvest. “We mostly grow leafy vegetables, tomatoes, chilly, carrots, radish and fruits. They are all organic and after the harvest, we distribute the same for free among the 65 houses,” explained Alphonse James, another volunteer. “It is a collective effort and we enjoy sharing,” she adds with a touch of pride.
According to Shankar Bhat, Secretary of the Good Earth Malhar Footprints Owners Association, composting in such large quantities does not lead to an overpowering stench, as most people tend to believe. “We use cow dung, water, worms and eggshells to aid the composting but we have had no issues with smell,” he says.
Each house also composts its own wet waste individually and uses it for their own gardens. “We also have various fruit-bearing trees and residents get jackfruits, blueberries, coconuts, water apples and gooseberries delivered to their doorstep every time we harvest,” Bhat says.