Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Saturday 22 December 2007

Yule and Christmas!

At last!! The wheel of the year has turned and we have reached the shortest day!! The days get longer from now on ....

"Feel me now as Mother of Air
Mine are the limitless skies and endless stars.
I am bird woman.
I lift your imagination and carry it on soft,
feathered currents to otherworlds.
I am bone woman.
I am the stillness between
death and rebirth.
I am the pause between
breathing out and breathing in.
Rest in that pause.
Feel My presence.
I am peace"

From the Goddess Wheel of the Year by Wendy Andrew.

Sunday 16 December 2007

Yule wreaths

Some Yule wreaths compostgirl and I made one nice evening in front of the woodburner....we went out and gathered stuff from the garden and wood to make them..and I have a big box of saved ribbons and bits n'bobs for making things like this!!
Now hanging up in the house along with the tree...we like to get the decorations up a couple of days before Yule......

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Herefordshire food festival...and a Tiger in my bin!!!

October 28 th and I was being "compostwoman" on the Herefordshire Council Waste Reduction stand at the Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival.

Although the weather was NOT kind, the festival was good fun and I got the chance to have a wander ( and a taste!) around many food stalls. Sophie Grigson was there and gave packed out talks. The Food Pavilions was our favourite place, where more than 100 local, artisan producers were displaying a mouthwatering array of food and drink which had clocked up the smallest number of food miles possible.

Compostgirl had fun in the childrens area run by the excellent Hereford Waldorf School...and decided to invade my compost bin!!!

Saturday 17 November 2007

The Green Man

THis is a picture of one of many "Green Man" plaques and carvings I have around my house....He was created by a very talented ceramic artist called Rachel Padley, who lives near to me.

He is about 2 feet high and stands out from the wall about 8 inches...and at various times of the year he is crowned with appropriate wreaths!!!

At Yule he will have a Holly and Ivy chaplet on his head and at Harvest time he has a Hop crown.

Monday 12 November 2007

Awards, trains and Opera!!

As I have already said, I have been been nominated by my manager at my County Council for AN AWARD of Individual Recycling Champion of the Year!! and I made it into THE FINAL 3 FOR THIS AWARD.
So..as I knew I would be in London for Samhain...I decided to see if I could find something to do in the evening and stay over for the night , returning the next day...and I discovered that "Siegfried" was on at the ROH Covent Garden starting at 5pm..so I thought "Whee!! " ( I LOVE Wagner.) I had wanted to see this production...and I managed to get a ticket!!
Halloween came, nice and bright and I set off to catch a train from my local station, to connect to a train in Worcester to get me into Paddington in good time, to check into the Park Lane Marriott (my very posh nice hotel) get changed and wander down Park Lane to The Dorchester for the noon start of the lunchtime award ceremony. I then planned to go back to my Hotel, freshen up and head across to Covent Garden for the start time of the Opera at 5pm. Well, that was the plan......

Do you get the feeling it DIDN'T go according to plan??? well read on....

I got to my local station to catch the train to Worcester which WOULD have got me in to Paddinton at 10 .30...so which would have gave me loads of time. I watched the train from Hereford approach...and then it STOPPED!! about 100 yards up line...and there it sat for nearly an hour..... It couldn't cross the bridge over the road nearby cos someone thought they saw a Lorry hit the railway/road bridge... ( it hadn't..... ) so the train couldn't go over the bridge "just in case" ..so we all stood there for an hour waiting....until a fellow passenger did a witness statement to say the lorry HAD NOT hit the bridge......cos he had seen what REALLY happened................ and there is only one line into/out of Ledbury , via a tunnel under the hills.......so I could count the seconds as the possibility of making my connecting train to Paddington inexorably slipped away.....
Hassle just DOESN'T do it justice...... I ended up going up to Brum in an attempt to get the fast train back down to Euston which would only make me half an hour late for the lunch.... .( instead of getting a train into Paddington......with an hour and a half to spare....) BUT then THAT train was delayed so I ended up getting into Euston at 12.30......and then the tube I got, broke down just before the station....so I had to RUN ( luggage and all.!) up from Green Park to The Dorchester.....
I was a bit beetroot coloured by the time I got there AND it was gone 1 pm...BUT once I had got my breath and got changed it WAS lovely in the Dorchester.... I had a fab time ( once I got there!) the surrounding were beautiful, the food was amazing but I really was not surprised when I didn't win !
Ever felt it just was NOT going to be your day? also unfortunately camera ( for first and only time GRRRRRR) malfunctioned and the photes I DID get, are all funny and not really viewable. (sigh)

BUT the Opera...I got to the ROH for the start of Siegfried and ahh..THAT was wonderful !

and The Marriott Park Lane Hotel was wonderful.....so I had a really good time.. and I got to lie in till 10 am and had breakfast in bed the next morning....and I had NO delays/breakdowns/problems on the way back...huh typical isn't it!!!

Monday 29 October 2007

Some Autumn photos.......

Here are some photos I took in the garden doing the last regular cut of the grass..( although I actually carried on till mid December , this was the last weekly cut)

All tidy and as I mowed up lots of leaves as well....lots of lovely leaf mold made in the compost bins too!!

Saturday 20 October 2007

Big Apple celebrations!!

In my part of the world October is CIDER making time!! and we have our own local celebrations...THE BIG APPLE!!

A weekend of Seasonal Celebrations of English Apples and Cider in the Herefordshire Parishes of the Marcle Ridge Aylton, Little Marcle, Much Marcle, Munsley, Pixley, Putley and Woolhope

This year the Compost family went to the open day at Lyne Down Cider. and here are some photos of the fun we had!!

Miss cw made friends with a very lovely dog, who very kindly took her for a walk!!

Much cider and apple juice was consumed by all and a very good Jazz band was playing all day.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Harvest Festival

here are some photos from Harvest Festival at compostgirl's school yesterday.....

Apart from running Eco Club at compostgirl's school, I also help the children with the School Organic Garden. I go in during the spring and summer term nearly every week usually for a Wednesday morning and Fri for an hour or so. On Wednesdays I take at least 2 classes ( first RECEPTION for an hour and a half before assembly, then Yr 1 for an hour after morning break) in groups of 5 or 6 at a time out to the garden and we plant seeds, weed and harvest veg and plant companion flowers. We also talk about compost, how things grow, bugs, compost and a whole host of sustainability issues....its a LOT of fun !! (Did I mention we do a lot of bug hunting in the compost heap???) On Fri I have an hour where I alternately take out yrs 5 and 6 from the senior class to garden before morning assembly.

Above are some before and after pictures of our Organic garden....

I started doing the gardening for compostgirl and her class (reception ) in spring 2006 and it has grown from there!!!(oh sorry that is a DREADFUL pun!!)

This year I drew up a planting scheme for all the organic raised beds in the school organic veg garden. Each class has its own bed and there is a herb bed in the middle for Eco club ( and 4 compost bins!) , plus an eco club bed in the playground with insect attractant plants in it ( and a compost bin!) I basically organise the Organic veg garden for and with all the children with the help of the brilliant Yr 2 teacher and Mr compostwoman and with the support and help from the members of staff at the School.

These Harvest festival photos show how well all the children have done!! Their produce was wonderful and was eagerly bought by parents at the Harvest festival auction to raise money for victims of the Floods in Africa this year. The very first photo shown just SOME of the produce donated to the Harvest Festival and includes the class veg boxes...and there was even more outside the main hall!!!

I do this, as well as co-running Eco club twice a month. all as a volunteer, because I want children to grow up knowing about composting, reducing, reusing and recycling, growing their own food and also to have a feeling of respect for our planet, its inhabitants and our shared environmnent.

And its fun!!!

Tuesday 9 October 2007

School Eco club

As some of you may know by now, I do a lot of volunteer( and a bit of paid ) work with an environmental and/or sustainability theme. One of the things I do is to help at the school which compostgirl attends, running an after school club with an environmental theme - ECO CLUB!

The wonderful and enthusiastic Yr 2 teacher and I started Eco club this time last year and it runs twice a month, with between 20-25 children in each session. We have had some other parent help and mr cw is always on hand , especially if any drains or carpentry or tree planting is involved....!

At each Eco club session we have done some work in the school grounds to improve our environment, such as tree planting, gardening or hedgehog house making. We have also had visits from wildlife experts and done some craft activities. Above all we have had FUN!

Our School is a member of Herefordshire Nature Trust so Eco Club is registered as an affiliated Watch group. We are also an RSPB Wildlife Explorers club so each child who joins is also an member of the RSPB. Since Eco Club started in Sept 2006 we have been really busy!

In our first term, this time last year, we -:

Made Christmas decorations from recycled materials .
Planted 60 trees along a bare length of chain link fence to make a wildlife hedge as part of the Woodland Trust "Trees for All" scheme

We learned about Hedgehogs from a British Hedgehog Preservation Society expert and met some very friendly hedgehogs!
Collected tins of cat food for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Learned about Bats from a Bat Conservation Trust expert and made plans for installing Bat boxes at the school in Spring 2007.

Prepared and planted an Eco Club insect attracting bed

Dug, composted and tidied our organic raised veg beds ready for winter.
Harvested our autumn veg and made up three veg boxes to auction at the Harvest Festival.
Then from the start of 2007 we have:-
Jan 07 we made recycled paper and used recycled paper to do various craft activities, We talked about where paper comes from and why it is important to recycle it AND buy recycled goods.

Feb 07 we did the RSPB big garden birdwatch and made bird and bat boxes and bird feeders. We set up a new bird feeding area AND took delivery of a new paper recycling bank in the playground.

March 07 we sorted out the veg plot, turned over the soil and put compost from our bins on the beds. We also put up our bird and bat boxes.

April 07 we planted more trees from the Woodland Trust in the hedge, planted up our herb bed and insect attractant bed and then had a good look around the grounds at what effect all our eco efforts were having...a mini eco audit!

May 07 we did pond dipping in the school pond.

June 07 we did a bug hunt in the school grounds and fixed the school greenhouse so we can use it to grow plants next year. We also put in a new water butt and used it to water our plants.

July 07 we had an Eco club outing and a picnic to Queenswood Country Park!

Saturday 6 October 2007

A Forest School grant meeting......

I have had a GOOD day....Today I went to a Forestry Commision "Forest School " grant scheme launch.
I spent a morning with a load of people I didn't know.. I have NO IDEA how green they are.. but I just KNEW they shared a HUGE amount of the same passion I share for environmental education, in the young, the older...etc.. just because they were there!!!

AND the lunch had a menu..detailing not what the food WAS, but WHERE all the food was sourced from..EVERYTHING was within a ( rough guess here!!) 10 mile radius!!!

and even though I DIDN'T know the "green" credentials of the people I was with....I KNEW we all shared a common purpose..Forest Schools...bringing woodland wild play to children everywhere... and the organisation had tried REALLY HARD to be local....and ethical...and free range.... It made me feel SO GOOD!!!!!!!

I am STILL buzzing :)

Monday 1 October 2007

Feeling seriously honoured and very flattered and humble here...

I feel VERY honoured...

I am ( as you know) a Master Composter with Garden Organic and my local County Council. That is I am a Volunteer Community Compost Advisor...I help people to compost, either to get them started OR to do it better!!

Now I knew last week that I had been nominated by my manager at my County Council for AN AWARD of Individual Recycling Champion of the Year!! as a result of all my efforts in the reduce, reuse, recycle field, especially for my composting efforts and for the Eco Club I jointly run at compostgirl's school and the Organic gardening I help the children with at school. And a HUGE THANK YOU to my manager at Worcestershire County Council...who put me up for this award, who is very efficient and wonderful and helpful to all us Master Composter volunteers...and who has just (yesterday) told me I have made it into THE FINAL 3 FOR THIS AWARD..Individual Recycling Champion of the Year(whee!)And an even more huge thank you to all the children who make all the school stuff possible, as well as the staff who support me in all I do at school!!

EEEK I feel a bit overwhelmed!!!

and also ...( for the ladies!!!)

What do I wear????

Monday 24 September 2007

The wonderful BGG-in crisis

The BGG is so wonderful!!!! We cannot let it go under!!!! I had SUCH a good time here this year...and also many years ago.....................CW

BGG in crisis

Dear friends,It is with great regret that we have to inform you that the Big Green Gathering Co. Ltd. is presently insolvent. Despite initial optimism, the many and various bills which have arrived at our office since the Gathering mean that we have made a further loss of approximately £75,000 on this year's event. When this is added to the accumulated defecit with which we began the year, it means that we have a total shortfall of approx. £150,000. In these circumstances we are legally obliged to inform our creditors and shareholders of our situation, and we have to face the fact that unless the money can somehow be raised in the next month or so, we will have to declare the company bankrupt and wind it up at this years Annual General Meeting. Despite this desparate situation, we have not yet given up hope. We know we have very many dedicated supporters, shareholders and Gathering participants who will not want to see the BGG go under, and will do whatever they can to help. We still have a £50,000 overdraft facility in place, and our guarantor has promised to stand by us, so long as the remaining £100,000 can be raised. Our office manager,
> Kerry, and book-keeper, May, are continuing to work despite knowing that we may not be able to pay them. The board of directors are doing everything they can to try and keep the company going, and the following appeal is being sent to all our shareholders, staff and customers. Please read it, and do whatever you can. Together we can still save the BGG."
Brig Oubridge, Chair.

"Urgent help needed - BGG in danger of financial collapse
As we noted in the programme for this year's Big Green Gathering, licence conditions imposed by Mendip District Council and Avon & Somerset Police added around £120,000 to the costs of this year's event. Now that the bills have all come in, it is clear that rather than the profit we might otherwise have expected, these extra costs
have left us with a loss of £75,000 this year.

Having already built up a defecit of similar proportions in 2005 and 2006, this means that the Big Green Gathering Co. Ltd. now has debts exceeding its assets by around £150,000, and will have to declare itself bankrupt unless we can urgently raise at least £100,000 to stay in business (we already have a £50,000 overdraft guarantee in place, and our guarantor is prepared to stand by us if we can raise the
These may seem like frighteningly huge sums, but are only a fraction of our annual turnover of around three quarters of a million pounds. The total 3-year loss is still less than £10 each for everyone who attended this year's Gathering. Provided we can prevent future costs continuing to escalate as they have in the past couple of years, the situation should still be recoverable if we can get through the present crisis. On the other hand, if we were to default on our creditors now, and the company went under, it would probably be impossible to re-start the event without a start-up capital of at least a quarter of a million pounds.

There is only limited time in which to act. Bills are already overdue for payment, and our creditors need to have confidence that we can sort ourselves out to prevent any of them petitioning for the company to be wound up. To create that confidence, we need to have raised substantial funds by the end of this month, and to know that we are definitely in a position to carry on well before our Annual General Meeting in November. Please act now to do whatever you can to help save the Big Green Gathering. Donations may be sent by cheque to BGG, 10 St Johns Sq., Glastonbury
BA6 9LJ, or made on line via the new donations page on our website.Please note that cheques are preferable, as on-line donations are subject to a 4.5% processing fee and a 30-day delay.] Cheques will not be banked unless and until the directors consider that sufficient has been received to give us a realistic chance of avoiding bankruptcy.Pledges of large amounts, whether as donations or loans, should be sent by email to kerry@big-green-gathering.com, as should any other ideas or suggestions for rescuing the situation"

Sunday 23 September 2007

Cider Making!

This weekend we have been making...CIDER!!

Two friends of ours who live nearby are keen cider makers and have started up their own mobile pressing business..The Little Cider Press Co.
They come and wash, mill and press your apples and you pay per 25 L of Juice produced. Add an airlock to the fermentation vessel and leave for a week or so and hey presto...fermentation begins!!

Washing the apples ( with help from children)

Milling the apples ( chopping them up so as to get maximum juice from them)

Putting the pulp on to the cloths which sit on top of a (traditionally acacia) wood slatted frame.

Stacking the cloths and frames up into a "cheese" The apple pulp is put in cloths and layers are built up.

Pressing the apples and getting the juice!!.

Putting the juice into a fermentation vessel.

having fun and a well earned cup of tea!! (next year it will be this years cider....)

Tidy up time!!

And then the pommace goes on my compost heaps!!!

Friday 14 September 2007


Oh I DO like to have lots of stuff jammed, chutneyed, made into wine, frozen etc etc!!

Here is a small sample...

and we will be making cider in a few weeks!!

more news when it happens!

Sunday 2 September 2007


Well, I have just been into hospital to have my tonsils removed....................yuck!!!!!!


I had to stay in overnight, it hurts like billy oh and I have been taking EVERY painkiller prescribed to me since at the maximum dose and minimum time interval allowed.....this is NOT funny!!
I feel utterly horrid and really very poorly.......BUT hopefully I will feel the benefit this winter, when I WON'T get tonsilitis/quinsey/bronchitics/pneumonia/plurasy etc etc............!

Which is what the last 5 winters have been like...one long round of illness and antibiotics after another..

SO...heres hoping I have got rid if all that for good...yes??

Monday 27 August 2007

Skincare course at Newhouse Farm..........

I have just spent 3 days away from Compost Mansions......I have been on a "skin care and household cleaners" course at Newhouse Farm, home of the Strawbridge family from "Its not easy being green" TV programme.

I went down on the train ( a very restful affair, apart from making 5 changes)....I took my mp3 player and several good books and enjoyed the experience and the scenery.

The village is beautiful, the sea and beach were lovely and the beer ( and the B&B) in the pub was VERY good!!

The course was really interesting and very worthwhile...as ever Brigit was wonderful...The course was also led by the ever lovely Helen James, who owns Innocent oils...suppliers of wonderful Hemp oils for cosmetic uses.

I had a terrific time, met some friends again from the INEBG forum, some I had met before, some I met "in the flesh" as it were, for the very first time..

and then I came back on the Friday, by train...another restful journey!!(when you have a 6 yr old daughter, you REALLY appreciate the time to read a book!!)

so now I just have next week to "look forward" to....I am having my tonsils out on the 28th August (gulp) Yes that IS tomorrow....

Good vibes please people!! and wish me luck!!!