The kids in the Johannes household have a ripping time on Saturday mornings – that’s when they join their dad tearing up cardboard for the family’s compost bins.
Their dad Adam Johannes is best known to his customers and Instagram followers as Compost Guy.
Adam had long been a keen gardener and composter when he realised a few years ago that he could help other people by offering advice to newbies starting out on their own composting journey, as well as selling products that he believed in, including the Green Johanna. People message him with their questions and he aims to respond to 99 per cent of queries on the same day.
Adam – a regular Compost Guy
He finds that most people who contact him have already convinced themselves to start composting but just need a bit of advice.
‘They argue themselves into it, they know they want to send less to landfill, be more sustainable, and get compost,’ he says. ‘If someone is not completely sold on it, I normally list out the practical benefits, then the issues with not doing it!’
In a bid to spread the word, he decided to start an annual Hot Composting Week – the first one begins on Monday (September 18 – 24). He got the idea because he realised there were other weeks dedicated to general composting, but nothing focused on hot composting ‘- and that is the best way!’
He uses hot composters himself – a Green Johanna and Hotbin – and has also used Aerobin, wormeries and Bokashi bins in the past.
‘I thought it would be good to highlight the benefits to more people. Everyone is surprised when I tell them how hot it gets! The aim of the week is to show people that hot composting is a good investment for them, and the planet.’
Concern for the environment
Compost Guy started life in the winter of 2019, a few months before the pandemic hit. Adam found that customers were initially motivated by concern for the environment; then when garden waste collections stopped during lockdown, there was an additional reason for people to get into composting – to get rid of the garden waste they were stuck with.
He stresses that his small team are not scientists or professional gardeners, just enthusiasts who believe in the value of what they’re doing and know there are people out there who would benefit too. Composting started as a natural extension to gardening for Adam but quickly became a hobby. As an allotmenteer he originally wanted to find out how to enrich his soil for best results.
‘Composting is a great hobby for anyone,’ he says. ‘Sad as it sounds, I love getting out there and aerating my compost. I like the hands-on nature of it. Perhaps I love composting far too much!’
Compost Guy’s enthusiasm seems to give people the confidence to reach out and ask him all sorts of questions. He loves trying to help and points out that everybody’s compost bin will be different, depending on various factors, such as the bin’s contents, position, local climate etc.
The main questions he gets asked are about how to speed up composting and the differences between the various hot composters.
When he first started on Instagram he only expected a few followers but to his astonishment quickly got far more – to date he has an impressive 6,700.
He sorted out a potential problem for his own in-laws recently when they were just starting out with their Green Johanna. On inspecting their Johanna, Adam saw that food waste had not been mixed with much garden waste and was sitting on a large amount of grass clippings which had matted together. So he set about ripping up cardboard boxes, with his children of course, and added this to the bin along with shredded waste paper. They tore up more carbon-content waste than they needed and put the excess in a handy lidded container to store it for when needed later.
A video on the website shows Adam enthusiastically aerating the Johanna’s contents to bring back ideal conditions in the bin. He also used a garden fork to aerate deeper in the bin to break up the matted grass and added bark chips, which provide valuable air pockets.
Adam is keen that Compost Guy should be a force for good in the world. A good portion of the profits go to sponsoring three children in poverty and each new customer means trees get planted with Just One Tree – up to July 2023 more than 2,073 trees had been planted.
In addition, Adam is a trustee and contributor to the Veg Box Donation Scheme, a charity which accepts surplus produce from gardeners for the benefit of others, and he also supports Transform Trade.
A few people who will surely never need to consult Compost Guy for advice are the Johannes juniors, who are learning valuable lessons every day – in life as well as composting.