halifaxearthtech: Photo by Joe Shneid of Louisville Kentucky, from Wikimedia Commons (Pattern)
Whew! I've been too busy to be able to post about this until now. I've slept for twelve hours last night, and spent the past 4 days contacting volunteers, gathering sawdust from some stumps that the city ground up and left in a happy coincidence, going to consensus-based leaderless meetings, and driving around at night in enormous pickups with some beautiful souls, picking up and transforming pallets.

We will probably be able to service 40 people a day. Onsite is a porto-booth made with pallet lumber and tarps. In the booth is a bucket with a seat, toilet paper, and another bucket with sawdust. There are signs explaining what people should do to use the apparatus. Outside the booth are two garbage bags of sawdust, more clean buckets with tight-fitting lids, and a pop bottle of hand sanitizer made with 2L of water and 3/8 tsp of chlorox bleach. I have four volunteers with bicycle carts including myself to show up every day and take filled buckets (with tight fitting lids) to composting sites (of which I have three, so far). At the sites are more (like ten) garbage bags filled with sawdust and carbon medium, which can also be bike-carted to the occupy site.

Police stood by in mild curiosity as we set up the booth and wrote "composting toilet" in marker on the tarp. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I was a bit trepidatius about unleashing this technology on Halifax in such a bold way without more grassroots support being in place first, but the temptation to teach up to 2 or 3 hundred receptive people was just too much for me! At the meetings the chair stumbled over what to call it "the eco-sanitation facilities?" "the eco outhouse?" "What about composting toilet?" I suggested. It made it into the minutes as "eco sanitation composting toilet".

I gave a workshop yesterday on humanure to those interested in the theory and a walkthrough on using it.

No pictures of the facilities yet! Pending! Pending!
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
The Berkley pile has been pitchforked into a raised bed. I've planted it out with a green manure of white clover. My consultation clients had good results from putting sheep manure straight into raised beds and I think I will do this with the rest of them.

After four weeks the pile was still at 30C! It was then that I learned that my thermometer had broken. So I picked out weed plants from the centre and set them aside with the other ever-growing pile of weeds that will be killed off with more fresh horse manure. I think "done in 18 days!" meant done the thermophilic phase in 18 days, with the fungal phase of breaking down woodchips and making the compost look like soil taking the usual 6 months to a year. We'll see what it looks like by spring. This is another reason I might not do it again, I'm not sure it's worth the work except to achieve high temperatures, which is not necessary for horse manure.


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May 2017

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