Bokashi at the North Country Fair

Super-sized bokashi composting

Most bokashi compost systems work perfectly with 1, 2 or maybe 3 bokashi kitchen composters processing 5 to 15 gallons of food waste a month. But this summer Bokashi Living composting was super-sized by the North Country Fair.

About the North Country Fair

The North Country Fair is a one-of-a-kind annual outdoor music festival which has been running since 1978 on the weekend closest to the summer solstice.

For many, the annual event … is a pilgrimage, certainly an escape, and a truly unmatched example of an outdoor music festival blending seamlessly into the beautiful, natural expanse on the east side of Peace Country. There’s a river to swim in, a terrific set of temporary restaurants, absolutely mind-melting music that plays till dawn, and a sense of unfenced freedom that should be the norm … well, everywhere.

(extract from the Edmonton Journal’s review of the Fair in June 2017)

The Fair is put on by the (awkwardly named) Lesser Slave Lake North Country Community Association or the LSLNCCA. It is held on a beautiful site in a particularly wide (about 1.5 km) section of the Driftpile River Valley, approximately 320km from Edmonton. This river flows into the Lesser Slave Lake from the south.

Making the Fair green

The North Country Fair have been greening their festival since the 1990’s. Environmental efforts include:
  • All garbage gets processed on site. All returnables, compostables and recyclables get removed so that as little as possible gets sent to landfill.
  • Native trees from nearby donor sites were planted along parts of the Driftpile River bank that were previously vegetated only with pasture grass.
  • Firewood and lumber is sourced from trees on the land, wherever possible.
  • Solar panels and windmills are used to generate electricity, although diesel generators are still required to power the main stage.
  • All buildings on site, some of which are permanently occupied by association members, are wood heated, small and without permanent foundations.
  • We try to instill an attitude that the valley belongs to the river and we have to adapt to it.

Composting at the Fair

In previous years, they have aimed to compost all food waste from the hospitality kitchen. However, the waste often includes meat, bones and baked goods. And this was attracting bears to the Fair’s compost.

To put off the bears they added an electric fence to the conventional compost pile but still wanted to do more to handle the bear attracting food waste at the Fair. So….. in steps one of the Fair organizers with the suggestion of bokashi composting to pre-compost the meat, bones, baked goods and other bear-bait.

Bokashi on a large scale

Instead of a conventional bokashi bucket they made their own super-sized bokashi bucket using an olive barrel. Olive barrels are great for bokashi because they have a lid that screws on tight and has a rubber gasket, keeping the bokashi process airtight. A tap from a hardware store was attached for drainage. They even fabricated a screen to keep large chunks out of the tap.

Over three days they added 5 gallon buckets of compost to the barrel, adding a generous handful of bokashi starter after each bucket.  It took 16 buckets and one 780g bag of Bokashi Living premium bokashi bran to fill the bokashi barrel.

Six weeks later when the barrel was opened, the Fair organisers were greeted with a “faint smell reminiscent of stale
pickles, despite a lot of chicken bones near the top of the pile”.  The contents were dumped into the conventional compost pile.

We will definitely be doing this again next year, with two of three barrels. Markus Eymann, Fair organizer

Why not experience the Fair (and their bokashi composting!) first hand? The 40th Annual NCF 2018 is only 292 days away 🙂

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *