Composting Winter Magic

About nine months ago, Marina Brown and I stepped forward into an unknown world. We wanted to kick off a process that would help make Katoomba’s Winter Magic Festival more sustainable.misswaste1

The festival is an incorporated association run by volunteers, so we went along to the AGM and proposed to make a start. We outlined a vision of three years to create a substantially more sustainable festival.  With our eyes on this prize, we said we’d take on reducing waste to landfill by 15% in our first year. Neither Marina nor I, nor any of the team that would join us to become the Winter Magic sustainability subcommittee, had a working knowledge of festival operations, so we had a lot of observing to do.   And oh how we gathered experience and observations, some from street level on the solstice evening picking up piles of rubbish as it overflowed down Katoomba Street.




We collected bags and buckets of organic waste to be processed at the community gardens.  In this we were joined by several regular gardeners, wonderful people who are all committed to living within our ecological means and passionate about diverting organic material away from landfill.  Together we created new garden beds to create more soil to grow more food to feed more people locally. You get the idea.

IMG_0528Our hope was to compost the gathered materials straight away, but weather since the festival has been dire, and progress slow. But today the sun shone and with it came great resolve to complete the job, four blue mountains community gardeners converged to lay down all remaining organics, down to the last chip on a stick, corn on the cob, coffee cup, along with umpteen plates and small amounts of food debris.  With these we created the bottom layer of a no dig garden bed invigoration around a stand of plum trees and circled by railway sleepers. We topped this with layers of cardboard, coffee grounds, weeds, comfrey tea, Effective (anaerobic) Microorganisms, water, wood chips and leaf mulch.

We managed to save many of the sticks from chip on a stick, and corn on the cob, Tammy and I soaked, then cleaned the last potatoey bits off with sand, and aim to put them to use in garden sticks/craft projects.

 IMG_0530Fortunately, because of the fridge like temperatures in Katoomba around this time of year, no food bits had started to break down yet, and our sturdy 60 micron thick bags were enough to deter interest from wee beasties.  In a few short hours today we were done.  From all the bags of organic material delivered to the gardens we only picked out 2 20L buckets of contamination, mostly coffee cup lids, some plastic plates, a smattering of cans, plastic cutlery and plastic bags.

Hurrah, we’re done! Until the next one!

Thanks HEAPS to everyone who helped make this happen, from the sustainability team Marina, Leah, Grant, gardeners & volunteers Annie, Bente, Bindy, Mark, Sarah, Sue, Nikki, who between them worked from 4am to 10pm keeping the streets clear, to our auditing team and special volunteers Nic and Josie, our magnificent street performers who with great gusto and humour helped festival goers’ bits go in the right bins and Wendy at BMCC for superb effort in organising colour coded bin lids on the day. Wow! So many more people helped behind the scenes, connecting this message to everyone who came along, you know who you are – so THANK YOU!

Festival photos by Cressida Hall


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