Boston West Primary School shows off its Composter Monster: Eco Club Leader Shirley Chain and Headteacher Mike Schofield with, front, from left, Oliver (11), Megan (11); middle - Hannah (10), Reece (10) and Evie (11)

Pupils from Boston West Primary School show off their Composter Monster with Eco Club Leader Shirley Chain and Headteacher Mike Schofield

Schools and growing groups have been awarded £1,500 of gardening vouchers after impressing judges in a composting challenge.

The challenge was part of a project Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear programme has been running with Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS) called Fat of the Land.

Growing groups and schools in Skegness, Boston and Spalding competed for a chance to win garden centre vouchers to further their green-fingered skills.

The quality of entries was so high that five rather than four prizes were given – the additional prize awarded for innovation.

The aim of the Fat of the Land project was to grow awareness of the problems caused by food waste, fats, oils and grease blocking sewer pipes, which could lead to flooding and potential pollution – something that is particularly important to highlight in the run up to Christmas.

Each of the 12 groups that took part received a HOTBIN composting bin for their growing projects and a total of 600 giant pumpkin seeds.

On top of that, winners each received £300 of gardening vouchers for the best growing projects and the biggest pumpkins using compost from the HOTBINs.

Winners were:

  • Hildreds Shopping Centre, in Skegness, won the best growing project
  • Willoughby Road Allotments Association, in Boston, won the prize for the biggest growers’ group pumpkin – a massive 67inches (170cm)
  • Boston West Academy got a special prize for innovation for coming up with the Composter Monster idea
  • St Bartholomew’s Primary School, in West Pinchbeck, won the best growing project in a school
  • St Johns Primary School, Spalding, won the prize for the biggest school pumpkin at 39 inches (1metre) in circumference

Collette Parker, Community Engagement Manager for Anglian Water, said: “We were overwhelmed by the extent to which the groups taking part took up the challenge. Their efforts to recycle food waste, including fats, oils and grease using the HOTBIN, were inspiring.”

David Fannin, Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service chief executive, said: “We are proud to support Anglian Water to spread the Keep It Clear message. Fat of the Land was a great project with wide-ranging benefits to the communities we work with. We were delighted it was so well received.”

  • Hildreds Shopping Centre used the HOTBIN to compost waste from the on-site café – tea bags, coffee grounds, food waste and fat/oil produced through cooking. Within weeks they had produced their first box of compost.
Hildreds Centre manager Steve Andrews and Zoe Feeney, of The Cottage Loaf Café.

Hildreds Centre manager Steve Andrews and Zoe Feeney, of The Cottage Loaf Café.

Staff made planters for a flat roof area of the centre and planted seeds to grow pumpkins, a vast crop of tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers, courgettes and herbs, the intention being to grow produce for the café using its own waste food compost.

Staff members were so taken by the project they are planning to expand their work next year by introducing a green house.

Steve Andrews, centre manager, said: “The Hildreds has always had Green Credentials and a Green Responsibility to not only its tenants but also to the visitors to the centre.

“Over the past 28 years we have implemented many initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle the majority of waste produced on site by the tenants, contractors and visitors.

“When I heard about this project it seemed to be the perfect solution to a problem with regards to the tenants’ food waste.”

The judges were impressed with the extent to which the centre was able to recycle food waste, including fats, oils and grease into compost using the HOTBIN.

  • Willoughby Road Allotment Association also put its HOTBIN to good use to grow its giant pumpkin.

willoughby-road-allotments-23-11-2016-9Willoughby Road Allotment Association’s competition entry said:  “Regular watering took place every day with a variety of different feeds applied, such as beer dregs, seaweed, comfrey liquid and even urine! As the weather warmed up and the sun began to shine the pumpkin was on its way. By this time the Hot Bin was beginning to make compost, which was then taken from the bin and applied as mulch around the plants, improving moisture levels.”

  • At Boston West Academy the pupils turned their HOTBIN into a “Waste Food Eating Monster”, which, with the help of their dinner ladies and caretaker they fed with food waste from school meals.

The children from the after school Eco Club planted the pumpkin seeds in the vegetable growing planter and watched their giant specimen grow.

Mrs Shirley Chain, Eco Teaching Assistant, at Boston West Academy, said: “Here at Boston West we are enjoying feeding our HOTBIN monster lots of yummy food scraps and garden waste.

“The children are learning how the green recycling process is creating a useful resource to use in our school gardening. They are excited and amazed at the speed of the composting and how the nutrients fed our greedy pumpkins!”

  • St Bartholomew’s Primary School, in West Pinchbeck, not only kept a journal of its growing project but made two films too. The challenge has led to changes in the daily routine of the school. Scraps were collected after lunch to put in the HOTBIN.

    St.Bartholomews year 5/6 members of the Willow Enterprise Team and Gardening Leader Helen Thorley

    St.Bartholomews year 5/6 members of the Willow Enterprise Team and Gardening Leader Helen Thorley

Left over jacket potato, beans, fish cake, gravy, sausage and fruit all found their way into the bin. Compost from it was used to support the growth of the school’s new cherry blossom tree, passion flowers in its reflective garden and for spinach and sweet peas grown in containers.

The school’s competition entry said: “We had an amazing harvest of tomatoes, which meant we could make lots of tomato chutney for our Christmas fete.”

The judges were impressed by the efforts the school made to record its efforts, demonstrating the extent to which they engaged with the Fat of the Land campaign.

  • St John’s Primary School, Spalding, won the prize for the biggest school pumpkin at 39 inches (1metre) in circumference.
St John's School, Spalding, from left: Charlie Sauntson (10), Victoria Khoza (10), Zoe Slinger (9), Teacher Katy Llewellyn and Luc-Marcus Fell (10)

St John’s School, Spalding, from left: Charlie Sauntson (10), Victoria Khoza (10), Zoe Slinger (9), Teacher Katy Llewellyn and Luc-Marcus Fell (10)

Katy Llewellyn, of St John’s Primary School, Spalding, said: “We had a crop of at least 15 pumpkins in our pumpkin patch – the children were so proud.”

Anyone interested in getting involved in future Fat of the Land initiatives can email: enquiries@lincolnshirecvs.org.uk

Also see: Keep It Clear campaign

For information about HOTBINs: HOTBIN