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Master Composter Stories:
Getting on a bit? You can still make a contribution.

Story from Norfolk Master Composter, Charles Mutty.


We’ve always composted though not with the skill lately acquired, I’m sure. I attended the first Norfolk Master Composter training course held in Swaffham and subsequently took a stall at every garden fete, flower show or tea party I could find. Various local clubs and societies filled a vacant date with my presence and I continued to learn!


I had recently retired and my new neighbours sent round a slip from the local primary school which wanted help in the school garden. It was to be an easy job with many voluntary parents lending a hand but I quickly learned that volunteers were in short supply and I was alone, which suited me because I could just get on with the job without any of this democratic business of consultation!


There was no longer any shortage of volunteers though, perhaps some would call them conscripts, and pupils aged nine and ten were keen to help weeding and raking, loading and turning the compost heap and doing whatever the season demanded. Sometimes a first year group would join me in their own enclosed garden where we managed to take a compost heap to maturity in twelve weeks only, no doubt largely due to the regular poking and pro…; sorry, turning and sometimes necessary damping down required. Pity the boy on the hosepipe didn’t understand the meaning of ‘off’. I would have just six or eight of them at a time and, shame to say, could rarely remember any of their names.   There was never any disciplinary trouble; they were far too interested to mess about; I was known affectionately as ‘Charles’ and was a friend of them all even though I had grown very deaf and couldn’t recognise one from another.


After some years my enthusiasm for loading the car with display materials for various outdoor activities had diminished somewhat, largely because of the energy required but also because people will ask questions (!) which I found difficult to understand outside. However, two or three times a year I manage to address a gardening club or allotment society where being a ‘little deaf’ has its advantage; it gives one time to think! Wonderful people, I found and a teacher told me that gardeners always are!     I continue to have a regular article, ‘Compost and such…’ in our local freebee and haven’t got the sack yet!                

Now in my ninth decade, I’m told to call it, my composting activities are diminishing but I have one morning a week, with five and six year olds and one evening after school with seniors, teaching chess; a delightful job I would never have been able to attain without my composting introduction. The school never fails to express appreciation at my considerable efforts to which I always reply ‘the benefit the children get is little enough compared to the benefit I get.’   I am indeed very fortunate and all as a result of my enthusiasm for composting!