Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


International Composting Week turns out more Green Thumbs in Lewisham!

What do seaweed, urine, nettles and grass clippings have in common? They are all rich in Nitrogen and are a fabulous food source within your compost. And what do loo rolls, sticks, scrunched paper and dried leaves have in common? They are all high in Carbon and provide the necessary structure and air pockets for your compost.

The finished product

The finished product

Together these types of ingredients provide the ideal environment for millions of micro-organisms and other creatures such as worms, wood lice, fruit fly, snails and beetles to live. They’ll make homes and munch away at your garden and kitchen waste turning it into compost.

A full compost bin ready for the garden

A full compost bin ready for the garden

Here at Lewisham, we’ve just celebrated International Composting Week by running 6 free workshops where nearly 60 people learnt how to set up and maintain a healthy compost at home.  Some had already started composting but needed help to get the best result out of it, however many had never done any composting before attending the course. Regardless of experience everyone who attended were enthused to compost even more…

Leave it in a warm place in the garden

Leave it in a warm place in the garden

“(The course) was informative and encouraging. I got good ideas for tackling my compost without it sounding difficult…”

A 220 litre compost bin

A 220 litre compost bin

 “(The course) was fun, well delivered, and was a nice atmosphere and location… got me in the mood for more gardening!”

Peelings, grass clippings, tea bags etc. can all go into the compost bin

Peelings, grass clippings, tea bags etc. can all go into the compost bin

We hope to run more sessions later in the year, so if you are interested in coming along, keep an eye out on the Council’s website or in Lewisham Life for advertised sessions.

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Composting workshops 2013

Lewisham Council is offering free composting workshops that you, your family or your friends may be interested in. The workshops will give you lots of tips and information and you will learn how to compost properly so that you can turn kitchen and garden waste into good useful compost that can be used on your garden.

Learn how to set up a compost bin, what can and cannot go into a compost bin, getting the right mix and trouble shooting. There’s no need to bring anything apart from yourself but if you could be there five minutes before starting time, that would be great.

Mr Compost says 'Come along and learn how to make some good quality compost for your garden.'

Mr Compost says ‘Come along and learn how to make some good quality compost for your garden.’

The dates and locations are as follows:

Wearside Depot 7 May 10am to 11.15am

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve 7 May 4.30pm to 5.45pm

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve 8 May 10am to 11.15am

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve 8 May 6.30pm to 7.45pm

Dacres Wood 9 May  12 noon to 1pm

Wearside Depot 9 May 7pm to 8.15pm

Booking information

Contact: Kristina Binns
Tel:020 8314 2145

Looking forward to seeing lots of people there.

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Council staff help primary school build compost bin from disused pallets

Many schools across the borough compost their food waste and children are very accustomed to placing the skins from their bananas and their apple cores into a compost bin at the end of break time.  However, composting at one local school – Horniman Primary, was so successful that they ran out of space- with their compost bin overflowing with fruit, vegetable peelings and shredded paper.

 The dilemma facing the school council was what they should do with all their kitchen and garden waste,  so under guidance from their class teacher- Mrs Brand, they put pen to paper and wrote to the Environment and Community Development (ECD) team requesting help. 

Rosie Holland (Horniman School) with a Waste Prevention Officer and Martin Warner (Pest Control)

 Keen to encourage the school to reuse and reduce their waste, members from the ECD team offered a couple of hours of their time to build the school a new, larger capacity compost bin.  Using old pallets accrued from deliveries to the teams Wearside offices, they set about building the new bin aided by an officer from Lewisham’s pest control team who made the bin rodent proof. Also helping was the schools gardener- Rosie Holland.

Reusing and recycling old pallets to construct the compost bin.

Two members of the school council Jamal Suleiman and Isabella Lloyd were amongst the first to use the new bin, starting it off by putting in garden waste.

Children from Horniman Primary School start to use the new composter made from the pallets.

If you want to start composting, Lewisham Council still has some compost bins to give away for free. If you would like one, please email  If you want to find out more about composting, you can also attend one of our free composting workshops which are being run on 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th of September.  If you are interested, please email

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New Compost Workshops 2012

Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. It’s easy to make and use.

Composting reduces waste and is good for the garden

Do your bit to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. Even for households that are already composting, new research has found that almost half of the food waste in their rubbish bins could have been composted. Did you know, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months?

Compost is a nutrient-rich food product for your garden and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil’s PH balance in check while helping to suppress plant disease. It will have everything your plants need including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and it will help buffer soils that are very acidic or alkaline. Compost improves your soil’s condition and your plants and flowers will love it!

So why not book onto one of the following courses…they’re free!

June Course (Hurry! Nearly full)

June 13

Meet at the security office, at 6.30pm for a prompt 6.40pm start finishing at 7.50pm. Wearside Depot, Wearside Road, SE13 7EZ

September Courses

Saturday 01 Sept

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve, Forest Hill, SE23. (The site entrance is opposite Tyson Road)

9.30am – 10.45am or 11am – 12.15pm

Monday 03 Sept

Dacres Wood, Dacres Rd, Forest Hill, SE23 2NZ (The site entrance is adjacent to Homefield House)

11am -12.15pm

Wednesday 05 Sept

Downham Library within the Downham Health and Leisure Centre, 7-9 Moorside Road, BR1 5EP

5pm – 6.15pm or 7pm – 8.15pm

Thursday 06 Sept

Downham Library (as above)

11am – 12.15pm or 1pm – 2.15pm

Booking is essential.

To book, please email:

(title email ‘compost workshop’, state which date, session time and how many people will attend. Please also include your phone details)

Alternatively call 020 8314 2145 to leave a detailed message, stating which date, session time and how many people will attend.


Mr Compost promotes Compost Awareness Week

Compost Awareness Week has been running from May 6th – 12th. As part of this and as part of a longer term strategy, Lewisham Council have been promoting the benefits of composting by speaking to residents in Lewisham’s Shopping Centre and also in Catford Market.

Lewisham’s very own Mr Compost also came along to the shopping centre in Lewisham to meet and greet shoppers and to talk to them about how compost can benefit the environment by providing a free source of compost made in your own garden.

This saves residents money as well as they get a free source of compost and it also saves the Council money as all your peelings, teabags, leaves, grass and vegetable matter can be dealt with at home rather than be transported to New Cross and be incinerated – which obviously costs the Council money.

Mr Compost meets an unsuspecting shopper

 At the moment we are giving away compost bins to residents with a garden (or with available communal space) by way of encouraging further take up of composting. Mr Compost is modelling the type of compost bin you will receive (220 litre) in the image above and we can also provide a starter booklet with this which gives you a step by step guide on how to use your compost bin. It also details the things that might go wrong and how to correct any problems if and when they occur.

On top of this we are also running workshops where residents can come along and listen to an expert composter explain all about the processes involved and answer any questions that people might have about composting.

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Capital Growth’s £35,000 boost to get Londoners growing food

The Mayor is calling for more green-fingered volunteers to step up and join Capital Growth by bidding for a share of £35,000 now available to budding community food gardening groups.

In this latest round of money available through Capital Growth, any community group with a plot of land ready to grow on, can apply for up to £750 to help them get growing. The Mayor launched Capital Growth in 2008 with the charity London Food Link to help green the city, boost volunteering and improve quality of life. The Mayor sees Capital Growth as a key part of his Team London initiative to encourage Londoner’s to get out and get engaged with volunteering in their communities. Capital Growth to date has already engaged 35,000 people in community food growing projects in London making it the biggest contributor to the Mayor’s Team London programme.

Capital Growth provides a practical response to the rising interest in ‘grow your own’ and to the fact that lengthening waiting lists for allotments that can be decades long. Any Londoner keen to volunteer with other members of their community to cultivate a thriving food garden are eligible to apply for a grant until the closing date of November 7th this year. There are now more than 1300 Capital Growth projects running involving more than 35,000 people, most of whom are volunteering.

Previous grant rounds to date have offered financial help to 559 projects to get started. Recipients will generally use their money to pay for equipment such as tools, soil, compost, and wood for raised beds. Those interested in benefiting from future funding rounds should register with Capital Growth to ensure they don’t miss out.

This grant round comes as a new and independent report by City and Guilds has found that community food growing projects can play an important role in helping to improve people’s work skills and employability as well as gain confidence. The report used several Capital Growth projects as well as other community food gardens to underpin its findings.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: ‘Volunteering to improve your local environment is not only great fun and a cheap source of healthy food, but an important way for some people to gain valuable skills. Capital Growth has been a fantastic success in helping bring green fingered Londoners together and I hope this latest cash incentive will get even more people to sign up and join my Team London army.’

Paola Guzman from Sustain the organisation that manage Capital Growth, commented: “Over the last 3 years of the campaign, we have seen the huge benefits that food growing can bring to communities.  More than 1,300 communities across London are now receiving support from Capital Growth. In these difficult economic times, we know that communities need extra support, so we hope these grants will be able to help. ”

A previous recipient of a Capital Growth grant is Cranbrook Community Food Garden in Tower Hamlets. A disused piece of land in the Cranbrook Estate was converted in 2009 into a beautiful food-growing garden. A grant of £750 allowed the group of residents to purchase soil and seeds and other materials necessary to start. The garden generated so much attention that the local council took notice and awarded them further funding. Cranbrook Community Food Garden has been a catalyst for wider community engagement in the estate and is the space where neighbours share experiences and food.

Janet Burns who currently manages the Cranbrook site said, “Since I started coming to the garden I feel like a part of my local community. I have met more neighbours and share a cuppa with them. This garden is a wonderful place where all my neighbours have worked really hard.”

Capital Growth has seen a wide range of community groups applying for the grants programme in the past such as doctor surgeries, universities, businesses, shelter housing projects, tenants and residents associations, faith and cultural groups and many more. Partner organisations include 18 borough councils, ten housing associations, Transport for London and British Waterways. Capital Growth also runs competitions to get schools and housing estates growing.

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Community Gardens – Growing Strong!

The community garden scheme has exceeded its target of helping to create 60 community gardening projects in the borough by 2012 .  There are now 62 gardens registered with Capital Growth and includes our own staff contribution – ‘Box Clever’ using old recycling boxes to grow vegetables, herbs and lavender at the Wearside Depot. I’m sure the local bees in the nearby hive will also benefit from these.

However, we will continue to encourage community gardens and gardeners in the borough through the small grants scheme, capacity building,  supporting with the legal processes for council owned land and the facilitation of a forum for community gardens in the borough. The photo below is of ‘Common Growth’ a community garden located inSandbourne Road.

If you would like further information about Community Gardens, please contact Stella Agunabor via email or call 0208 314 2068.