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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Visit to Dreamland Ecostation - 29th October 2011

We gathered outside Bahgat Stores area in the carpark just before Dreampark.

First, we were shown the dramatic improvements made over the past 12 months to the formal beds in the area by Monsieur C's team.

Techniques such as mulching and using small pebbles or gravel to help retain water and reduce the demand for watering have been introduced which can only be of benefit in this region, both in terms of available resource and financially.

We then filled all available cars and moved to the composting area. This was amazing. The compost heaps range in long lines – maybe 50m or more in length – and are around 1m high. The major component is vegetation from the gardens of Dreamland residential area, almost all of which is now being brought to the ecostation for processing. Before the team were awarded the contract, the waste was taken away by contractors and simply burned.

There have been some learning curves to be gone through about the type of rubbish which can be used in the station and the message is gradually getting through that plastic and other types of non-organic and non-plant matter cannot be used.

At the moment, the work is all done by hand.

The team. They said they were happy to be working on the station and believed they were doing something important.

The heaps are turned manually.

They are moved a metre or so to the side, thereby aerating the compost helping it to decompose faster.

At present, using manual labour only, it takes around 6 months to produce suitable compost. With a machine, the compost could be turned more frequently and the time could be reduced to 3 months.

The only machine at present is a silage machine. Silage machines chop up the plant material into small pieces. The machine proved a great hit with the children, but it should be pointed out that these machines can be lethal – several adults in the UK have met a grisly end in these sorts of machines - and children should absolutely NOT be left alone unsupervised with one.

We were encouraged to thrust our hands deep into the heaps just to feel the heat generated as nature does her work.

To make things more interesting for the children, a competition to find as many different types of insect as they could was held.

We then stepped over to the golf course for a break. We hadn’t thought of bringing a picnic, but it would have been a great spot!

Some bird watching took place with the children challenged to identify five different varieties. Some papier mache bird boxes were available. Apparently, bird boxes can only take one family before they need to be specially cleaned out.

After the break, we went back to the compost area and checked out the plant beds. Monsieur C. introduced the children to the joys of gardening and they seemed to enjoy it.

Bags of fresh compost were handed out to those who wanted them and the visit drew to a close.
More photos of the day, particularly of the birds and insects seen, can be found on the Egypt Lifescape Blog

This was a very interesting visit. The operation is currently bootstrapping, and the majority of the costs are labour (and of course occupation cost of the land - I believe the owners of the Dream estate don't charge for the use but I may be wrong).

The concept would be very simple to extend to any of the new developments springing up all around Cairo and in other parts of Egypt.

At present, the Dreamland Ecostation is at full capacity for a manual operation and to be able to take in more organic matter and drive up the rate of compost production, some machinery will be needed.

Education into the techniques used to propagate this idea is also necessary.

Photos watermarked using :  Batch Photo Watermarker


Shikra said...

Thank you a lot for this nice, well-written and clear post!

Oldbag of Cairo said...

Thanks :)

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