Written by Justin Eisinga – Summer/Fall 2020 Conservation Project Coordinator
It is widely accepted that Winnipeg, Manitoba is one of the coldest cities on the planet. The temperatures can dip well below -20 degrees Celsius throughout January and February. Yet, this does not stop Winnipeggers from embracing outdoor activities. Whether it is skating along the Assiniboine River or cross-country skiing outside of city limits, people who live in Manitoba push through the frigid temperatures in order to enjoy God’s creation outside of our homes. For those who tend to a garden in warmer months, this even includes composting!
When it comes to the decomposition of food waste, one of the most frequent questions asked is this: Can I still compost during the winter? When people think of compost, the scent of rotting food and the warm feeling of the nutrient-rich material comes to mind. The act of stirring and sifting the compost in the spring and the fall is normally what floats to the imagination.
But this does not mean cold temperatures should stop people from dumping their food scraps and organic waste into the compost bin! While not much takes place while your compost is frozen, there is an abundance of microscopic activity waiting to be unleashed as you pile on your old banana peels and leftover dinner.
For Christians, winter composting offers more than just higher output and more benefits for our gardens in the spring. The act of frozen composting is also an opportunity to reflect on our faith. Winter composting does not involve much activity; instead, it is all about waiting. In this way, composting in colder temperatures is like one long Easter Saturday.
During the celebration of Easter, Christians around the world mark the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. This is the time when the crucifixion is called to mind as a reminder of God’s willingness to endure the worst kind of suffering out of Love for what God created. On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, which serves to underscores God’s love for creation by telling us that death does not have the final word. However, this important holiday is incomplete without Holy Saturday.
Holy Saturday is what comes in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this has been understood as a day of waiting. The in-between space of Holy Saturday is where Christians encounter the somber reality of the death of Jesus; it is a time of mourning that must be lived through before the joy of resurrection can be embraced.
Composting in the winter is just like Holy Saturday. The fruit of composting is a nutrient-rich mixture of decomposed food and plant matter that adds life to our gardens. It is quite literally true that the death of our waste comes back to life in new forms, offering us beautiful plants to look at, wonderful trees to filter the air we breathe, and delicious vegetables to eat. When we place our waste on the compost pile in the winter, we enter into a time of waiting for new life to emerge in the Spring. This is just another way that God is narrating the story of resurrection for all to see.