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A Calgary resident's search for composting items PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 15:19

Informed gardener mixes 25 L bins of coffee grounds with kitchen scraps

Jester Suzuki, a Cliff Bungalow resident, is a passionate composter who goes out of his way to get coffee grounds for gardening projects.

Suzuki said that in an urban environment coffee grounds are readily available and provide a high nitrogen content to compost.

He works at nearby Caffe Beano and collects a large amount of coffee grounds from the café.

He said he is able to fill roughly one 25 L bin in a day.

Jester Suzuki holds a container of vermicompost, which uses worms to break down organic matter.
Photo: Olivia Guy-McCarvill/Calgary Journal

Suzuki collects kitchen scraps from Caffe Beano and other companies, such as The Coup on 17th Ave. SW.

Soft spoken with a gentle demeanor, Suzuki described his own composting methods: “I make a lasagna layer using all compostable materials, stack it up a couple feet, and over the years that’s going to constantly break down and provide you with good rich soil for your beds, right in your beds.”

In his learning experience (a permaculture design course,) materials such as straw or hay, horse manure and weeds were used towards the compost pile.

With his business project, Sustainable Urban Food Farms, Suzuki uses his own yards, as well as other people’s yards, to use their space in order to grow produce to sell at farmers markets.

Suzuki also keeps his own compost at home. It is a vermicompost, which means that worms break down the organic matter.

He said that in his home compost vegetable matter and egg shells are emphasized as being good choices to minimize the smell indoors but added that meat grinds and other spoils would be better off for composting outside.

Composting may be considered a passion or hobby to some, or a good way to reduce landfill waste but, Christina Seidel, executive director of the Recycling Council of Alberta, said she feels strongly that people should be rewarded.

“There should be incentives for all types of waste diversion activities,” she said.

Suzuki said that the most beneficial impact of composting would be if everybody would get rid of their lawns and start growing a variety of vegetable matter, fruit trees, trees, bushes, shrubs, perennial herbs and flowers -- anything besides grass, as these are able to soak up a lot more carbon.

Erin McLaughlin, manager of the Green Calgary EcoStore, said it's important to compost: “Not only are you keeping the volume that’s going into the landfill reduced, but also when you send up organic material to the landfill it cannot break down properly because there's not the right kind of microorganisms in that environment. There's no oxygen.”

For those interested in composting, the Green Calgary EcoStore offers workshops. More information can be found online at