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LOGO IYS en Print squareInternational Year of Soils 2015

The 68th UN General Assembly have declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS).  Brought to us by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations the IYS aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential eco system functions.  You can find out more about the International Year of Soils by clicking here.

The promotion of sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment.


We depend on soils for many reasons...

  • Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production
  • Soils are the foundation for vegetation which is cultivated or managed for feed, fibre, fuel and medicinal products
  • Soils support our planet’s biodiversity and they host a quarter of the total
  • Soils help to combat and adapt to climate change by playing a key role in the carbon cycle
  • Soils store and filter water improving our resilience to floods and droughts
  • Soil is a non-renewable resource, its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future


Composting makes the world go round.  It recycles the nutrients that make plants (and animals) grow, feeds the bugs that keep the soil healthy and is a sustainable, low-cost way of dealing with 'rubbish that rots'.  Composting is the cornerstone of organic gardening and is essential for conserving the fertility of our soils.

Garden Organic's Volunteer Master Composters are active across the UK promoting home composting as a means of diverting organic waste to landfill and creating a valuable natural resource for growing fruit and vegetables at home.  To find out more about Garden Organic's Master Composters click here.

What to look out for in 2015

To celebrate International Year of Soils we will be holding various courses, seminars and making various information leaflets available.  We will also be celebrating International Compost Awareness Week; an annual promotional and educational event being held from the 3rd - 9th May - for more information about this week please click here.

Our Master Composters will also of course be around the country at village fetes, shows, events etc promoting the message of home composting.


henshome bookletThe hens@home project was initiated as existing Garden Organic volunteers were regularly asked about keeping hens when interacting with the public.

Existing Garden Organic volunteers are welcome to train additionally as hens@home mentors. Previous or current experience of hen keeping is a requisite for all hens@home mentors so that they have the relevant know-how to engage with members of the public.

An important aspect of the hens@home mentor role is to discuss with potential hen keepers the full range of activities and responsibilities needed to provide a healthy environment for domestic hens. Furthermore, hens@home mentors can offer support to existing hen keepers who may be having difficulties or need encouragement.

Due to the wide variety of Garden Organics’ volunteers, we have hens@home mentors of all ages and backgrounds which contributes to the effectiveness of the scheme; hens@home mentors can reach areas that other hen promoting activities cannot reach as they talk to their friends, family and neighbours, as well as attend local events. Volunteer hens@home mentors are active in local communities nationwide.          

As part of the hens@home project a booklet has been produced which covers a broad range of topics and is aimed at people who are considering keeping hens for the first time.

To download the hens@home booklet click here

For further information on the project please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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International Compost Awareness Week
Sunday 1st - Saturday 7th May 2016

Calling all keen composters!

This International Compost Awareness Week (1-7th May) Garden Organic are planning to co-ordinate a series of short composting workshops around the country, and we need your help!

We’re looking for enthusiastic composters to lead a short workshop in their area. Leaders will be given full support, including

  • An outline session plan for the workshop
  • Downloadable resources to use during the session
  • A pack of materials to help promote your workshop
  • Hints and tips on running the workshop, including finding a venue and taking online bookings

We’ll be helping to raise awareness nationally through the press, and via our website, members’ magazine and emails.

If you think you might like to lead a workshop we’d love to hear from you. Just complete our short online form and we’ll be in touch with more details.

Online form []

Let’s make this International Compost Awareness Week one to remember!

More information on exciting plans for 2016 to follow but in the meantime here is an overview of what we did in 2015.

Our theme for 2015 was 'Life inside your compost heap'.  A compost heap isn't just a heap of dead stuff; it is a hotbed of biological activity.  One gram of compost can be home to literally millions of microscopic creatures.  The compost heap is a bit like a mini-beast nature reserve. 

To help you discover this hidden world we created the following resources:

To see our Compost Creature leaflet click here

If composting creatures themed wordsearches are your thing then click here

For a composting activity sheet click here

Identify the creatures you find in your compost heap with a handy ID sheet by clicking here

Life inside your compost heap - What you don't see; factsheet here

You can see some of the creature photos in Garden Organic's 2016 calendar here:

Treat yourself to one of our 2016 calendars

We have also been celebrating the International Year of Soils and have created an exciting new Soil Information Pack.

 “It is a truth universally acknowledged – but often overlooked – that our soil is at the very heart of successful growing”, writes James Campbell, Chief Executive at Garden Organic.

This pack will help you understand your soil, and how to manage it the organic way – creating the best environment for your plants to thrive.

It includes information on the following:


Enjoy getting to know your soil. Happy growing!

Garden Organic’s Soil Information Pack has been kindly funded by donations from Garden Organic members. Would you like to join us? Membership costs as little as £2.75 a month, and not only gives you full access to our advisory service, but also free or discounted entrance to many gardens across the UK. Call 02476 308210 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Competition time!


Leicestershire Master Composter Rod Weston set up a poster competition to celebrate Compost Awareness Week this year and you can find out about the winners here.





Check out what we have seen in our compost...

This video is of a pseudoscorpion, the grid squares are each 5mm.


Garden Organic Master Composter Schemes


Additional information

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