Chris Brown, Ashley Baxter, Latha Matters, Yana Zehr at the Cooroy Permaculture Gardens going full on composting with the Monty.
Chris Brown, Ashley Baxter, Latha Matters, Yana Zehr at the Cooroy Permaculture Gardens going full on composting with the Monty.

Locals go full Monty to prevent food waste

The green thumbs of Cooroy Permaculture Gardens and Veggie Village haven’t taken leave of their senses of clothes, but they’re going to road test the Monty on their fertile turf.

This Monty’s full reveal lays bare the promise of a new Queensland invention which aims to monitor piles of compost for maximum benefit to gardeners and the environment.

“The device consists of a thick probe, which sits in the compost and uses sensors to monitor its health,” Noosa Council’s waste education officer Emma Menzies, who’s co-ordinating the community trials, said.

As well as the community gardens, Pomona State School and Kin Kin State School are working with council to test a new invention from an Australian start-up Monty Compost, designed to remove the guess work out of soil enriching.

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“It computes the data and provides the school students and community gardeners with instructions, via an app, on when to turn the compost, add water and more carbon, such as leaves and straw, and any other steps they should take, including advice to overcome pests and odours,” Ms Menzies said.

“If the trial goes well, it could help other schools, community groups, and residents compost organic waste and spare it from landfill – fulfilling a goal of council’s waste strategy.

“The aim is to make the composting process faster and more successful.”

The Monty is the brainchild of business and IT graduate Ashley Baxter, who confesses she had no idea about composting when she started her project.

Now her motto is “composting is cool” and so too, she said, is Noosa Council and the locals for embracing this trial with great enthusiasm.

“Noosa has been so amazing with the attitude of people,” Ms Baxter said.

“There really is so much local government could be doing and should be doing, so much of the organic waste stream is organic.

“We always hear about plastic, we always hear about e-waste, but there really hasn’t been any really good comprehensive strategy on managing organic waste.”

Ms Baxter said many people made the mistake of just piling green waste up until it became so hot it would combust.

Julie Leake, the Monty inventor developer Ashley Baxter, Karen Sell, Ron Bollard at Veggie Village as the composting trial begins.
Julie Leake, the Monty inventor developer Ashley Baxter, Karen Sell, Ron Bollard at Veggie Village as the composting trial begins.

“I think there’s this prevailing attitude around that composting is super easy, you just throw you food scraps in,” she said.

“At the end of the day it is very easy – to get composting wrong, and if you’re composting wrong, which a majority of people actually are, all you’ve really done is build up a landfill in your backyard.

“You’re not getting any of the benefits of averting emissions, you’re not creating a high quality end product, so we’re completely focused in on ‘we need to reach 100 per cent organic waste recycled and composting is the way to do that.”

Ms Baxter’s green waste dumping concerns are supported by Ms Menzies, who said organic waste produced methane gas as it decomposed in landfill, trapping 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

“By contrast, composting doesn’t produce methane gas and the finished product is great for use in gardens, so anything we can do to promote and encourage composting is worthwhile,” Ms Menzies said.

“Council staff met Ms Baxter in 2019 and loved the idea of what she was trying to produce as many residents often contact us for help because they’ve tried composting but it didn’t work or it smelt.

The Monty is fully functional and being trialled in Noosa compost gardens.
The Monty is fully functional and being trialled in Noosa compost gardens.

“Council is looking at ways to reduce organic waste going into landfill, so the more homes, schools, businesses and community groups we can get composting, the better.”

Ms Baxter said she was already receiving positive feedback from the Noosa trial groups.

As for the name Monty, Ms Baxter said being an IT geek meant she knew nothing about marketing so her team called in some industry insiders who came up with a name that would humanise this potentially life enhancing device.

Her take is to think of Siri, but not on your phone … at the bottom of your garden helping saving the world from methane madness.

Noosa’s trial will help create brand awareness and customer interest before launching to the mass market through a crowd-funding campaign.

Despite many challenges faced by the coronavirus crisis, Ms Baxter secured her first round of significant financial interest from investors for Monty in April this year.

The Monty team are using these finances for an exclusive 100-unit launch: a pre-batch to test the product-making process with the help of Noosa prior to mass manufacture.


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