While several of the participants in a recent compost educational field trip to The Water’s Edge Museum in Oxford were noncommittal about incorporating composting measures in their family’s kitchens, they were enthusiastic about their ice cream from Scottish Highland Creamery. It was a hot day. Really hot.
After listening to Frederick Struse, from Annapolis Compost, the boys attending from Building African American Minds (BAAM) were eager to discuss various activities they were involved in, speaking about cutting grass, doing chores, and the finer details of weed whackers, all the while concentrating on ice cream. In all fairness, the demonstration in the museum’s Climate Change Garden about the benefits of compost did strike a chord with the group. They were busy making connections while standing in the hot sun.
Are worms good? Yes. Worms find your compost pile and help break the material down.
Does the composted material smell? No. One participant said the smell reminded him of brownies. Another person said that the composted material smelled good, like dirt.
Can pigs help compost? Yes. Wait, pigs? Frederick knew his audience and had the boys’ attention with stories and photographs of his pet pig, Pugsley.
Does composting take a lot of work? No.
Does composting help eliminate food waste? Yes.
Those last two questions were the thrust of the day’s presentation. There are little steps that we all can take daily that benefit Mother Earth. One may ask, isn’t a group of young BAAM guys on a hot July day a random grouping to learn about composting? In one word: Exactly!
In part, they were learning how to be mindful of their neighbors and how it affects others around the world. Part of The Water’s Edge Museum’s mission is to break stereotypes, which is why composting became a priority on July 18. Working together, BAAM and The Water’s Edge Museum are planting seeds of change early in these boys with the goal of shattering more stereotypes.
And why not these boys? They are learning skills with global ramifications. Americans waste about a pound of food per person daily. Food waste pours into our landfills. These landfills emit methane gas, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The participants attending from BAAM are, in essence, learning how to contribute to environmental justice. Yes, we are all a small drop in the bucket, but not without global ramifications.
While it’s a little tough to know what these boys are thinking in terms of composting, global warming and environmental justice, they are paying attention. Worms, pigs, dirt, ice cream – it’s all being absorbed. Like compost, it’s percolating. But one thing is for sure, there was no food waste from Scottish Highland Creamery on this hot summer day.
What is environmental justice?
According to the EPA, “environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
The Water’s Edge Museum opened its Environmental Justice as a Civil Rights Gallery in July 2021. A first in Maryland, the galleries present through photographs, paintings, historic maps, and cartography how climate change is impacting underserved rural communities on the Chesapeake Bay. The galleries examine the environmental health and safety of vulnerable populations who live in low-lying areas.
While composting hasn’t (yet) gone mainstream in American households, Annapolis Compost is doing its part to change that mindset. One workshop attendee is an avid gardener and 51-year member of the Talbot County Garden Club, Caroline Benson. Although a lifelong gardener, Caroline admits that she still has a lot to learn about composting. Who knows, maybe this group from BAAM will help make composting an extension of their daily lives.