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Backyard Composting Basics

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Event description



Saturday 9 July - 10:00am to 12:00pm (2 hours)

Are you looking to reduce your household waste to landfill, but not sure how? Or do you already compost at home and want to improve your results? This introductory home-composting course is designed to kick-start your systems for reclaiming wasteful scraps and turning them into rich, living compost!

Join Kelmarna Garden's own Madeleine Cull, lead coordinator of our Soil Factory community compost hub, to learn a host of tips and tricks for making microbially rich compost in your own backyard. Maddy will draw on her wealth of professional composting experience to help you navigate common misconceptions, get the hang of diagnosing issues with your pile, and use a biological approach to work true microbial magic with your scraps!

What to expect:

An introduction to backyard composting, starting from the basics. Maddy will guide you through:

  • Key principles of making good home compost 
  • Macro-organisms, microorganisms, and their role in your compost
  • What to add and what to avoid in your compost 
  • Essential tools and effective bin designs
  • How to identify key indicators of the good and the bad, and managing issues when they arise
  • Helping address your questions, diagnosing your issues, and taking confidence in your solutions
  • Exposing misconceptions and debunking common compost myths
  • and more!

Begin your session on the farm with an introduction to the theory behind living compost and the importance of biological factors in creating a successful compost pile. You will review some of the more common designs for home composting bins, their advantages and draw-backs, and how to tell which may be best suited for your backyard. Feel free at any stage to ask questions and address issues specific to your home project.

Then visit the Soil Factory community composting hub at Kelmarna Gardens to inspect our active compost piles, at varying stages of maturity, to see and feel the process in action before taking the opportunity to get hands-on as Maddy guides you in building a compost pile from scratch, using a typical Taurus-style bin. You will also have the chance to view the biology of our compost using a microscope to take a much closer look at what's going on at the microbial level.

Tickets include: theoretical and practical instruction in living compost creation, access to tools and resources for demonstrations and activities on site

What to bring:


  • a refillable water bottle (to stay hydrated)
  • weather appropriate gear (to keep comfortable)
  • a face covering or mask (for indoor areas and close quarters)


  • a pen and notepad (to take notes)
  • a pair of gloves (if you have your own)


Madeleine Cull is a professional composter, having managed numerous composting hubs across Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to process food scraps into high-quality, biologically-active compost for regenerative food growing projects around the city.

She is the chief composter at Kelmarna Gardens, where she manages Soil Factory, our community composting social enterprise, supporting local businesses and residents to join our circular local food loop and reclaim organic resources.

Maddy's efforts in developing and delivering urban composting solutions were recognised by her nomination for the Zero Waste Awards in 2021. Anyone who has worked with her knows that her passion for compost is infectious as she helps people recognise the power in transforming 'trash' into living treasure.


At Kelmarna, we strive to make education accessible for everyone. So, where possible, we offer a 35% discount on our workshops to valid Community Services Card holders. If you book one of these tickets, please email us a copy of your valid Community Services Card, and remember to bring it along to the workshop. Please note that this option does not include Super Gold Card holders. Ngā mihi.

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