The Fox and Hounds in Haydon Wick, Swindon, is a traditional pub that not only stands at the heart of its community but is also at the centre of a new initiative in Wiltshire called the Compost Doctors. This encourages small businesses to compost their catering waste on site, reducing the amount going to landfill.
The pub already has a ‘compost corner’ where the Swindon Compost Ambassadors meet monthly beneath their wall-mounted Highly Commended certificate from Swindon Borough Council's Quality of Life 2008 Awards.
These enthusiasts, who all share the same passion for composting, belong to a scheme set up by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust in November 2007 as part of Swindon Borough Council's strategy to promote home composting.
Three of the Ambassadors have now completed extra training to join the Compost Doctors, a national project co-ordinated by the Community Recycling Network.
The Trust’s Kate Robinson, who leads the Compost Doctors in Wiltshire, says: “There’s a lot of advice and support available for people composting at home, and there’s development also for large-scale composting, but there was a gap in the middle for helpful information and suitably-priced equipment for smaller businesses.”
Kate says the Doctors can offer experience of all the available composting equipment, from simple bins and tumblers to large 'in-vessel' composting machines. “They have also developed their own vermin-proof, in-vessel equipment which is much cheaper than models currently on the market,” she adds.
So when landlady and keen recycler Ellen Lee wanted to start composting veggie peelings from her popular locally-sourced pub meals, she had a willing team on hand to resolve her difficulties.
She says: “I’ve even got other regulars helping to carry the veggie peelings out to the compost bin now – everybody helps out. And the great thing is, it helps keep down our waste disposal costs too.”
Pub regular and Compost Doctor Linda Brown says the problem for the Fox and Hounds was that it lacked space to site a compost bin, and most of its land was covered in tarmac. So they came up with the simple, low cost solution of building a raised bed in the corner of the car park so that a normal 'Dalek' style compost bin could be used.
“The soil of the raised bed will absorb the liquid produced by composting and the sawdust we add to the mix will soak up additional liquids. The process should work very well and Ellen will be able to use the compost when it is ready in about a year, for the tubs and hanging baskets decorating her new outside dining area.”
Kate says: “In comparison with most of the Doctors ’patients’ it was quite simple to provide a solution for The Fox and Hounds as it only produces a relatively small amount of food waste.
"Every business is different in the type and quantities of food waste they produce, their style of management, the type of site they operate and the people they employ, which are all factors in determining the most appropriate system for their composting.”
The Compost Doctors, which is a not-for-profit consortium of composting experts throughout the UK, has also run successful pilot projects at The Pear Tree at Purton and the Bridge Inn in Horton, near Devizes, in addition to further projects around the country.
It has also provided food waste audits and composting advice for Sarum College in Salisbury and Kingswood School in Bath.
“Quite often businesses just need a little bit of help to be more sustainable, and the Doctors can provide that for composting. It can give them the confidence to tackle other areas of their work too,” says Kate.
If you need advice from the Compost Doctors please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. (01793) 814823 /Mob. 07876 301617.
Pictured: Fox & Hounds landlady Ellen Lee (left) with Compost Doctor Linda Brown