GROUNDING: bokashi

Updated: May 4

"Woodland is a poetic and visceral work that describes your body’s fade into the leaf litter of the forest floor. This work connects you deeply to your body, and considers the biological and chemical processes that continue long after you are conscious, as you are slowly and gently subsumed by the earth over thousands of years. Woodland is a love poem to the forest, as bodies merge with the molecular environments that support life."

Text from French & Mottershead website

I've developed a slight obsession with composting. I really am fascinated by it. The major problem with our food systems at the moment is the disconnect between demand, growing and waste and in so many ways compost is the answer to this dilemma. It is also incredibly poetic - the way it completes the cycle, taking all our excess and discarded rubbish and gently breaking it down, only to reinvent it as an extraordinary life-giving substance that allows us to start over, grow more, nourish the earth and ourselves.

Of course not everything can be composted, but I have been frustrated at the amount of organic matter that I have had to throw into the general waste over the years and that is where BOKASHI comes in. Bokashi is a Japanese method of composting which can deal with any and all types of food waste, including meat, fish and dairy. The advantages are straightforward - it's quick, it deals with all your food waste, it doesn't take up much space and it doesn't smell, so you can tuck the box into a corner of your kitchen (which for me means that I actually remember to use it and don't wimp out just because its raining). I've been meaning to start bokashi-ing for ages and I have finally got round to it.

The process is incredibly simple too:

1. You buy 2 special Bokashi bins. They have a little grill over a chamber at the bottom so liquid created as the food waste ferments ("Bokashi tea") can drain off and a tap so you can pour it out. I got mine from the Ethical Superstore - which, by the way, is both ethical and super - I recommend a browse.

2. Along with the bins you need some Bokashi bran (it often comes as a pack). This is a dry mixture of bran and molasses that has been inoculated with beneficial micro-organisms; a carefully controlled (and non-chemical) mixture of microscopic bacteria, yeasts and fungi, but I prefer to think of it as magic compost dust.

3. Whenever you have some food waste, chuck it in the bin in shallow layers and sprinkle a handful of Bokashi bran over it, then fix lid on tightly.

4. As the bin gets full, press down the contents and sprinkle with extra bran, then just leave it for 10-14 days (during which time you can start filling bin number 2). After this time, it won't look like compost yet (because its not!) but it will be completely fermented.

5. Every couple of days during fermentation, you need to drain off the Bokashi tea. This is also magic because you can add it to your watering can and use it as plant feed, or pour it neat down the loo or plughole and it works as a natural drain unblocker that is also good for your sewage system!

6. Last of all, to complete the process you need to transform the fermented waste into compost. This is done by burying it, either in the ground in the corner of your garden or in a traditional compost bin and then covering it with a layer of ordinary soil. Because of the beautiful process of fermentation it has already undergone, this is pretty quick. My plan is to dig it straight into my new vegetable beds, on the basis that by the time I get around to planting them up in a month or two, it will have rotted down and enriched the soil.

Bokashi bin and bran


Yes Fruit and Veg

Dairy products

Meat and Bones


Pizza, Burgers, Snacks

Bread, cakes Cooked food leftovers Spent flowers

Pet Waste from small herbivores


Bottles and cans


Metal (foil, staples)

Tobacco Ash

Tea Bags (tea leaves are fine though)

Pet Waste from Cats and dogs

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