Want to learn how to do aerobic composting in Singapore? Project Black Gold is a community food scrap composting initiative in Singapore run by Cuifen Pui and Chingwei Chen. Passionate about compost making and building communities, these two got together to co-create and launch Project Black Gold during the pandemic, with the support of other compost makers. Their goals? To teach people how to make compost using food scraps and to grow this community movement.
When physical distancing measures eased, Chingwei began by teaching theory for free over Zoom to a group of condomium residents in Bukit Gombak, and meeting with a smaller group to do hands-on activities. A few months later, Cuifen initiated a series of online teaching for volunteers and nearby residents of Jurong Lake Gardens, although it took many more months before hands-on could take place. From this point, Chingwei went on to start 3 more locations at Tampines.
While they have met many people interested in learning composting along the way, they decided that they wanted to work with people who really wanted to start and do it well for their neighbourhood.
Project Black Gold had originally planned to also teach worm composting among other things, and evolved to focus on hot composting, a fast, aerobic process. Although they officially work with only 5 locations currently, they hold at least two sessions of Compost Day each month in different locations around Singapore which members of the public can attend for free to learn compost making.
This is a 100 per cent volunteer-driven initiative and sessions are funded by grant money. During these sessions, participants get a hands-on experience in layering vegetable waste, wood chips salvaged from local woodworkers, leaves and other inputs that are useful for the compost heap.
Cuifen shared that she sees value in placemaking. To her and Chingwei, it made more sense to focus on neighbourhoods that they are more familiar with. Cuifen lives in Bukit Gombak, while Chingwei resides in Tampines. Cuifen focuses on Jurong as it’s a neighbourhood she grew up in. They have taught one group in Jurong, another in Bukit Gombak and three others in Tampines.
“When we talk about food scrap composting in Project Black Gold, we are not just there to teach people another workshop, we wanted to look at it from a neighbourhood perspective… It’s not like, okay I teach you guys and then I go teach somebody else in Clementi or elsewhere. We stay there and we really journey with it,” said Cuifen. She adds, “It is about shaping culture in a single neighbourhood.”
In this short amount of time, Project Black Gold has grown its impact in diverting food waste from incineration plants. Moving forward, they are looking to establish two more locations this year and are currently in talks with different groups. You may just have one of their compost hubs at a place near you!
Featured image courtesy of Project Black Gold.