activism food waste

Guerilla composting with the Urban Farming Guys

Every year when the leaves fall off the trees, I find myself walking past a big pile of bagged up leaves and thinking I should take some home. Inevitably, I always come across the council’s efforts on my way somewhere, rather than on the way home. Like last year, the frost is here and I’ve missed the opportunity to bag myself some free leaf mulch.

Fortunately, not everyone is so slack. Here’s a video from the on how to make the most of autumn for some guerilla composting.

If you haven’t come across the , check them out. They’re great at trying things out, from fish farming to aquaponics, and then sharing what they’re learning. It’s part of a broader vision to create a prototype sustainable community, addressing job creation, food, and urban regeneration all at once.

It’s a radical project. This is a group of families who have chosen to move to a run down part of Kansas City in order to transform it.  It’s a holistic, sacrificial, all-or-nothing commitment, but they’re clearly having a lot of fun along the way. As a Christian, I have a particular respect for what they’re up to – they don’t mention it, but it’s as close to my understanding of the ‘kingdom of heaven’ as you’ll find anywhere.


  1. I do, of course, see the obvious attraction and I’ve always wished to live in any sort of commune type family, working together with nature, for the well-being of all concerned.

    At the same time, I fear a kind of vision where, by necessity, mankind is forced into the video type life on a macro scale. We’d be dependent upon our built processes, (I assume the amount of plastic I saw in the urban farming video would perhaps be negligible), but then, the tree leaves would be scarce and like gold dust, and we’d fight for them because we have prevented the earth from providing leaves and all the rest for us by herself, naturally. And there would arise other implications and complications. (I can feel a film coming on!) Then we must still learn to share and not want more than enough. Maybe, instead of being a tyrant for not allowing people to be rich, perhaps it would, by one and all, be thought of as criminal to want to become richer than the next man, or even the desire would be erased from our minds.
    Whatever, I see the potential for good and bad and think this maybe the old, old story of mankind trying to improve his lot, yet still coming unstuck, due to his nature for self-survival.
    Of course, we can’t go back to the ‘Garden of Eden’, so, this may indeed be the nearest we’ll have on earth to the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (I’d give it a good go, given the opportunity), but I’m still hoping that Jesus was more than mere mortal and knew that there is something even better to come! ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ and ‘our Father who art in heaven’ and ‘thou will be done as it is in heaven’, hopefully suggest that heaven is another special (spiritual) place which we may ultimately achieve. Meanwhile, I know, (before you say it Jeremy!), pragmatic we must be -:)

  2. Yes, although it is ‘your will be done on earth as it is heaven’ – the ‘on earth’ is important! This is a theological question, and my reading of the scriptures is that it’s both a now and a not yet. There is a future heaven, but it’s on earth and we can start building it right here.

    Revelation describes heaven coming down to earth, rather than human beings being whisked away to some otherworldly spiritual reality. Among the last lines of the Bible is the announcement ‘see, God’s dwelling is now among the people’, which is kind of the reverse of the popular understanding of heaven where we go to live with God.

    As for communes, there’s a difference between communal living and ‘intentional community’. The first is committed to living together and sharing space and possessions. The second is a group of individuals or families that have a common goal that they’re working towards. I’m part of a group like that, trying to make a difference in the part of Luton that we’re in. Personally, I find that a better model. There’s a lot of pressure and conflict when you’re actually living together.

    1. Sorry Jeremy, the quotation marks were used incorrectly, but I had intentionally left out ‘on earth’ because I was trying to quickly direct attention to heaven as a separate place. I certainly believe we must first put heavenly behaviour in our earthly lives in whatever format we find ourselves. I’m not clear on whether it will be as individuals, groups, or en masse, (though actually living together is, I think, the strongest test, and I wonder what you think ‘better’ about the intentional community, which seems to me to be more like survival than love – but perhaps one step at a time!), but I feel it will be preliminary to something spiritual, so I do not see any conflict between the two concepts.
      I know the theological and philosophical are not your main aim on the blog, so thank you for the reply.

      1. More survival than love? I don’t see why it should be. I love my brothers and sisters, but I don’t want to live in a big house with their wives and husbands and all my nephews and nieces.

        I have a lot of respect for those who do want to live together in community, I just think we shouldn’t idealise it. It’s a choice that works for some and not for others – and communes tend to leave a trail of disillusioned people behind them who thought it would be everything they were looking for, and it wasn’t.

        You can have a powerful unity of purpose without living together. Many churches demonstrate that, and lots of other community groups, like amateur dramatics societies pulling together to put on a play, or the urban gardeners above.

        1. I do not disagree with your comments, so to get straight back to ‘more survival than love’? I have so many ways to offer my meaning, that I think it may be more straightforward if you were to start by answering the question, that I tentatively put to you, when I said ‘I wonder what you think ‘better’ about the ‘intentional community’ (model). Would you like to answer that, or, is it simply, as you said, that ‘There’s a lot of pressure and conflict when you’re actually living together?

          1. As I said in my first comment, it’s a personal decision, not an argument that one is better than the other. For myself and my family, I’ve found it possible to be part of a dynamic, focused community without actually living together, so why add the stress of attempting to live together as well. I think it’s healthy for people to have their own space when they need it, especially when you have young children. (I know friends whose community houses have fallen through at the prospect of crying children in the middle of the night. I’ve also got friends who live in community with young children, so it is possible)

  3. Jeremy, not for a moment had I thought you were giving me anything but your personal choice. But to have your reasoning confirmed has helped me to respond better to your query on what was an incidental comment.

    I now see, that I need only say that I do not have a naïve desire to live with others. I am well aware of why this all too often fails. But, the reason it fails is the very thing that I would like to have openly laid on the table, and more opportunity to have to work at overcoming. I see that the intentional community, with all its treasures, can often be driven by a narrow ‘unity of purpose’ which can be very successful but rather insular in orientation.

    You began with ‘More survival than love? I don’t see why it should be’. Indeed, that would take it too far! I had said it ‘seems’ to be ‘more like’ (because, I often find that it is), but not that there is no opportunity for more. I hope I have managed to align your query more with my comment, whether there is any agreement, or not. (I think this may sound a little bumptious – it certainly is not intended!)

    Ps. I’m getting some unusual occurences with the comment page since recently receiving requests to confirm subscription to the blog and to receive comments, plus two e-mails of each new post, now I notice no reply button on your comment above. That last one may be perfectly explained, but the rest I cannot resolve!

  4. Jeremy, no sooner had I posted the above with the postscript on my issues with the blog and WordPress, than I received a mail saying ‘this thread had been flagged for staff assistance’ – so fingers crossed!

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