On Wednesday, April 18th, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance hosted a webinar on, “Using Bokashi in Community Composting: What, Why, How, Who.” This was one in a series of webinars oriented toward community composters, and offered on behalf of the community composter network. View the recording here.
Bokashi is a Japanese term meaning “fermented organic matter.” Bokashi fermentation utilizes a variety of by-products – such as leaves, sawdust, husks, bran, other grains – inoculated with beneficial microbes to ferment kitchen waste. It is an anaerobic (without oxygen) process, akin to pickling. Often mistakenly considered a form of composting, it results in a very different product. However, as a pre-processing step to composting, it has several benefits including ability to handle meat and dairy, repelling rats, speeding up the composting process, and cutting frequency of food scrap collection. The webinar covered what bokashi is, how it’s made, benefits of bokashi to micro food scrap haulers and composters, and lessons from three micro composters.
Intrigued? Watch the recording of the webinar to learn more.
Shig has been a volunteer educator on bokashi composting since 2009. Based in NYC, he provides workshops to community gardens and schools throughout the city. He is mainly involved with El Sol Brillante Community Garden (526 E 12th St) and the Children’s Garden (12th St and Ave B) both in the East Village/Lower East Side of Manhattan. Shig has been studying bokashi and EM (Effective Microorganisms) since 1993.
After years working in an academic setting doing agricultural research, Benny Erez brings knowledge of theoretical and practical farming technology to ECO City Farms. His experience with composting technology comes from years of managing the University of Maryland Central Maryland Research and Education Center Compost Facility and visits to Austrian compost enterprises. He manages a variety of composting systems at ECO City Farms and teaches others how to compost on a small scale. ECO’s core activities involve composting as a basis for farming in urban food deserts. Benny will share what bokashi is, the basic steps involved in making your own, and how he utilizes the fermentation process to store food scraps at ECO’s farms before composting.
Common Ground Compost operates several programs, including a bicycle-powered food scrap collection program serving businesses and residences in New York City, operating out of a school garden. It also provides educational training; invests in pilots programs; and consults with commercial businesses, non-profits, and schools. Meredith will share how Common Ground utilizes bokashi as a pre-processing technique at their compost site at the East Side Outside Community Garden.
Founder and President of Vokashi, Vandra Thorburn is a huge advocate of bokashi and EM-1, the original microbial inoculant. While researching ways to implement a compost collection service, Vandra learned about the many applications of bokashi and visited EMRO (Effective Microorganisms Research Organization) in Okinawa, Japan. For the past 8 years, Vokashi has demonstrated that food scraps can be saved for long periods of time in an airtight container using EM-1 inoculated bran. Vandra will share the value of pit and trench composting, using these fermented food scraps, and how her bokashi bran and collection bucket takes the yuck out of recycling food waste.
Co-Director and Composting for Community Initiative Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Washington, D.C. Twitter: @PlattBrenda
Brenda Platt is the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She has worked 30 years fighting trash burners and promoting waste reduction, recycling and composting, particularly recycling-based jobs. She currently directs ILSR’s Composting for Community project, which advances locally based composting in order to create jobs, enhance soils, sequester carbon, reduce waste, and build more resilient and healthy communities.