Vincent Massey Elementary School students paving way for greener future

Sari Green/Courier Payton Lord (left) and Isabella Smith, students at Vincent Massey Elementary School in Saint Andrews, are thrilled to have new food digesters. These will allow the school to pretty much eliminate all food waste and turn it into compost, which the students will use to help grow their own indoor garden.

Saint Andrews – Students at Vincent Massey Elementary School in Saint Andrews are working hard at going green at the school , and they are taking steps to be more environmentally friendly. The latest effort they’ve made is to install two food digesters in the ground in front of the school. These digesters will turn all food waste into compost, which will then be used later in the school year for student gardening.

The students are thrilled to have the new digesters, and are very thankful that they were donated to the school. Principal Lesley O’Leary said the school has been looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, and this was something they could really get on board with. She said Trisha Dickerson from SNBSC was at the school to discuss waste management, and the teachers, staff, and students were particularly interested in reducing food waste.

“She was successful in getting us two green cone waste food digesters,” said O’Leary. “Anything that goes in your stomach can go in the digester. It’s nothing like regular composting. We can put in meat, spaghetti, any food waste at all. You don’t have to worry about maintenance, you don’t have to stir it, and you don’t have to worry about animals because it’s buried in the ground and self-enclosed.”

Grade 5 student Isabella Smith said these bins, which are partly buried in the ground, can only hold food scraps, and they cannot put any plastic or cardboard inside. But, you can put food items inside you couldn’t put into other composting bins. The food waste can’t be accessed by animals, but the holes in the bottom of the containers allow worms to get inside, which help to turn the waste into compost.

“They’re made so animals can’t get into them, but the worms can get in for composting,” said Grade 5 student Payton Lord.

The students said they really appreciate the fact these digesters were given to the school at no cost. They realize these items are expensive, and they are happy to have them for use at their school so they can cut down on food waste.

“This girl from the landfill came in to tell us about this, and she gave us these,” said Smith. “These are really expensive, so it’s really nice of her to give us two for free.”

The school has an indoor garden, and the compost created by the food digesters will be used to help grow plants in the garden. The students and teachers grow food products right in the school, which not only is a green initiative, but also a way to encourage healthier eating.

O’Leary said the school has been working on going green for some time, and that they are already involved in other recycling projects, such as one through Staples in Saint John where they recycle pens and markers. She said they recycle as much as they possibly, can, and hopes that within the next few months, the only thing that will be going into the garbage will be food wrappers.

The students are also starting to work with the community to help the environment. One of the projects they are working on involves reusable shopping bags. They are now in the process of collecting these bags, which they will in turn donate to Joey’s, The Independent Grocer. They hope to encourage people to use these bags, and then return them to the store for others to use.

“Students will replenish the bag supply, and promote the reuse and bring back angle,” said O’Leary. “Now that the students are doing everything they can at the school level, we are trying to get them involved in the community. They’re very young and very ambitious.”