Stewards of our land

| 10/04/2012

Having had the pleasure of a wonderful evening spent at Mr Joel Walton’s Plantation House this past Saturday, an annual event put on by the Slow Food movement, enjoying fabulous company and spectacular food, sourced from Joel’s garden and prepared by the Brasserie, I was most impressed by my surroundings and Joel’s generosity in opening his home but also in sharing his knowledge from his many successes (and perhaps a few failures) in making a fruitful and productive garden on rocky ground that would at first seem to be inhospitable to most plants.

(For your own garden tour it is worth noting that the Plantation House is open to the public every Sunday from 2pm – 5pm.)

One of the things that really got me thinking was Joel’s description of himself as being simply a steward of this land as his father was before him and as his children will be in the future.  This is precisely how we should be looking at our surroundings whether we live in a house with a few acres of land or in a condo complex with just a patio with perhaps room for a few pots of fresh herbs.

It has become obvious that our government is not about to do anything about the mounting problem of recycling or lack thereof.  This is not to say they don’t wish to take on this battle but, to be fair, they have an enormous amount of other (perhaps more) pressing issues and this is just one of the many they are facing.

I’d rather leave the government to deal with the more pressing issues that can’t be solved by the private sector (like fighting crime) and suggest that for issues such as this one, the private sector should lead the way.  It won’t be the first time the private sector has instigated a positive change – the fact that the supermarkets are now charging for plastic bags is another small step in the right direction that was initiated by the private sector.

Although not addressing the issue of plastic and glass, which I agree does need to be addressed at some point in the not too distant future, my suggestion for the start of a solution is simply that those people in apartment and condominium complexes ask their executive committees and/or their strata management companies to think about placing a compost bin on the property along with some basic composting instructions (see top 10 tips below).  Those complexes that have gardens maintained by a local company can involve the gardening company, which can use the compost for the plants on the property. Those in private homes can also easily do this as well and I’m sure most, if not all, of the gardening and landscaping companies on island would be happy to provide advice on how best to do this.

This may not be the solution to all our issues but it would be a step in the right direction for becoming more responsible stewards of our surroundings. Next up: plastic and glass!

Top 10 Composting Tips to get you started:

  1. Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pilewill compact and start to stink.
  2. Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
  3. Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
  4. If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.
  5. Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
  6. Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the dry months your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
  7. Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.
  8. Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
  9. Worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
  10. Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.
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  1. Grow mi Corn inna Hallow barn says:

    I am sure glad some have the time to run and manage their own plantations because as a lowly employee of a statutory authority that will remain anonymous we have very little time for ourselves not to mention our children at home. This is a privellege solely reserved  for our tyrannical bosses in management who enjoy those freedoms to gainfully engage themselves in business ventures an opportunities to make even more money than they currently recieve from the work that they seldom do and we get the privilleges of making them look good at. Aaaaaaaaah the lofty heights of serving the generous bosses who are so willing to share all the work they have with us lowly serfs.Congrats Joel and Staff may work and stress never burden you down! Bon Appetit

  2. UDP Supporter says:

    I don't like this "environmental" talk because God put us in charge of the Earth to exploit it and be masters of all we see. This seems to me to be another attempt to steal from Christian people their God-given rights to do what they want with their own land. Wake up Cayman!

  3. Stewards of the Civil Service says:

    MACI needs explain why all their senoir managers have private businesses and are running them whilst they are suppose to be running the statutory entity. With some prime locations in G/Town.Maybe thats why they are refusing to move to a more controlled environment at the New GOAB building. Certain Gov't officials turning a blind eye to this situation is one big compost heap that really stinks and needs to be sorted out. Our government motto should be  Government works for U

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    Thank you for a well written and informative article…

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a well written article.  Well done Tara!  Always a joy to read something positive and enlightening.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Joels plantation is awesome but requires man power and capital to get and keep it running smoothly.  He must have atleast 3-4 labourers around at all times.

    Im going hydro.  No dirt needed and can even stack nicely in a small footprint multiplying the square foot yield.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Make chicken wire into a roll and make sure its atleast 3 feet across.  Make sure the pile is atleast 3 feet tall when you do to ensure enough heat can build up to break down the pile. 

    i would not recommend leaving a open pile as chickens will go nuts in it spreading it out.

    I made mine from a old A/C condsener cage, the thing that protects the radiator fin things.  I then put some nails in the side edge of some plyboard and bent them over the wire on the cage to make a front.  I left a opening on the bottom of the plyboard to scrap out the finished compost.

    A warning, composting is not for the light of heart as all kinds of critters will be in there, maggots and all especially if you are putting kitchen wastes (no meat products only veg, fruit) in the compost as opposed to only lawn clipping and old leaves. I think I have maggots from the Black Soldier Fly (as opposed the regular house fly) that devours anything and I do mean everything thats placed in my compost bin from the kitchen.  I have not  placed meat in the pile but from what I have heard the soldier fly larve will devour it as well as well as animal faeces and the pile will not smell.  They will breakdown a pile in a matter of days.  My pile smells like fresh dirt right now whereas before it smelled like a mini dump before I started to notice the larvae.

    The adult black soldier fly looks more like a wasp than a fly and does not have a mouth and does not feed and is not a nuisance or health risk like the commonhouse fly and the larvae (maggots) actually repels the common house fly from the compost heap.  The adult larvae are actually very good food for chickens and fish and have been incorporated into a closed cycle aquaponics system.

    If you want to discourage flys in general, just make sure to put your kitchen scraps under a good layer of dry material and make sure not to leave it close to surface of the pile and do not over water.  This will leave the pile to bacteria to breakdown and actually makes more compost as the larvae eat and use most of the matter in the pile to grow into adults whereas the bacteria just break it down.  The bacteria will take months to breakdown a pile as opposed to days with larvae.  Bear in mind that you might still get larvae in your pile but I dont worry about them. 

    I have never seen houseflys at my pile and in the first weeks I looked at it daily before I noticed it breaking down rapidly.  When I first turned the pile, I almost set fire to it after noticing it teaming with larvae but I have accepted them as usefull.  I repeat they are not the maggot of the regular house fly and if I noticed them around my house more, I would change the way I manage the pile.  I have not even seen a house fly around my house in months.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Joel's achievement with his farm is splendid. He has invested a huge amount of time and resources into it. However does he have the time to accomplish it while being at the same time the Head of the Maritime Authority (MACI), which is the subject of considerable controversay in Government circles for not moving into the new Government Administration Building (GOAP) where there is a large space with its name (MACI) on the door, and instead being allowed to renew its lease on property in the private sector on the waterfront away from the centre of government activities? Apparently the Auditor General is looking at the GOAP occupancy problem (only around 50%) in the light of what it was supposed to offer in savings. Let us hope he pulls no punches, because, in fact, this is a scandal in the making.

    • Anonymous says:

      Now you're cooking with gas!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a public servant. Tues 18:34 post is very very perceptive but I wonder how many people really understand what the many things  he/she is getting at. There is a lot wrong with the ways things are done and it's only the lower paid government workers that ever get asked what they are doing and get into trouble if they so much as take a minor job out of hours to supplement their income.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully XXXXX is reading this article.  He has a gargantous pile of rubbish stockpiled in a residental neighbour in Lower Valley that is no only an eyesore, but I'm sure is contributing greatly to to the pest/rodent population in those parts.  I can only imagine the health risk this nasty, stinking pile of garbage is causing!  No need to move the dump to BT – it's already there folks!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Nicely said, Tara. I hope Mr. Joel's experience can be encouraged by the government, but I am not holding my breath.

    The first chance I get, I'll be planting a little of my own. It always tastes better from your own ground.