Andrew Davenport of QR Composting Solutions in Bingfield, Newcastle upon Tyne
"This method of composting completely transformed the compost I made and also my garden. I became hooked and developed a fascination for the method and its history..."
Andrew Davenport established QR Composting Solutions in 2008 with the main aim of promoting Quick Return (QR) compost making as a means of encouraging and supporting sustainability through their website, literature, talks and workshops.
Can you give a short history of how you got to where you are now, including why and when you 'went organic'?
Several years ago, after many failures at making compost, I tried the Quick Return composting system which was invented back in the 1930s by Maye E Bruce, one of the founder members of the Soil Association. This method of composting completely transformed the compost I made and also my garden. I became hooked and developed a fascination for the method and its history which resulted in writing a book and the start of a business partnership with my wife, Carolyn.
My transition to becoming organic was gradual and instinctive but I became more conscious and aware of the need to be organic about 10 years ago. I have had a strong interest in nature from an early age and knew that many of the things we do are not good for nature.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
After taking voluntary redundancy in 2009, I am now a ‘house husband’ and main carer for my 3 children - 3 year old twins and a 7 year old. When the 2 younger ones aren’t at nursery, we spend as much time as possible in the garden playing and gardening. I put my 'composting hat' on when the kids are in bed and at weekends. It's a busy life but very rewarding and I hope that some day I can dedicate more time to further research and promote the Quick Return method.
Who are your customers and where are they?
Everyone and everywhere! Anyone who has materials that can be composted.
Organic principles – why do they matter?
To preserve the environment and its inhabitants.
What does the Soil Association mean to you?
Exactly what it says... a charity formed to preserve and cultivate with utmost respect that most precious asset – the soil! If we can get this bit right the rest should follow.
What is your greatest achievement?
Writing and publishing my book.
How do you plan to progress in the future? What is your vision?
I will continue to promote the Quick Return (QR) method with the aim to reach as many people as possible whilst also researching and developing new ideas. Hopefully one day I will write a biography of Maye Bruce.
If you were starting all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing would have happened had it not been for my particular circumstances so I wouldn't change a thing.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Whatever it is you are doing, do it properly and stick at it until it's finished.
Who or what's your biggest inspiration?
What is the key to your success?
Taking opportunities when they arise.
What do you love most about what you do?
Making a bloody hot compost heap!
What keeps you awake at night?
Working too late.
What single thing would most improve your life?
A bit more time!
How can the organic market be improved?
Educating young people and making them aware of what organic food is and its many benefits.
How important is energy efficiency to you?
I think we should all hibernate in winter which would save huge amounts of energy!
What's the main benefit of being organic for you?
Ensuring that my family can eat as healthily and sustainably as possible.
What other organic ventures do you admire and why?
Organic food for babies and young children is essential, because they are developing and growing so quickly. They need good nutritious food and are most vulnerable to toxins.
Supermarkets – good or bad?
Convenient yes and they accommodate the organic shopper, but I fear that they are too big and domineering, influencing our lives and what we eat with little consideration for seasonal eating and food miles. I believe they also impact heavily on local producers/businesses and could do more to cut down on packaging.
What is the biggest threat to what you do?
Possibly rats – people are put off composting because of the fear of attracting them. My advice is to keep cooked foods and animal products out of the compost bin. The heat generated in hot composting methods (such as the QR method) rots down food items quickly and the heat (up to 65°C) is also too much for them, whereas a cold compost heap may still have fresh materials rotting down slowly which could be an open invitation.
What's the best thing about organic farms?
They produce good tasting, nutritious food, free from chemicals that doesn't cost the earth.
What's the best thing about organic food?
Good for our health and the planet.
What is your favourite meal?
Sitting down to a home cooked traditional Sunday roast dinner with my family (using organic ingredients of course!)
If I was Prime Minister I would...
Push for organic food to be served in all nurseries and schools.
The world would be a better place if...
We returned everything we took from the soil. In essence, composting all our vegetative waste and applying it back to the land.
I'd like to be remembered for...
Trying to make a difference and do something to preserve our planet for our children and future generations.
When were you happiest?
In my late teens riding my motorcycle!
What is your greatest fear?
The end of the world.
What is your favourite word?
What would be your 'Desert Island' luxury?
Apple pie and ice cream.
To find out more about QR Composting Solutions, visit www.qrcompostingsolutions.co.uk.
Andrew is a Soil Association member and author of the book Quick Return Compost Making. The book covers the QR composting system, a unique and established method of making nutrient-rich, plant-loving fertile compost which can be made in a matter of weeks. The book's foreword is written by Soil Association director Patrick Holden and for each copy of the book sold a donation will be made to the Soil Association. We would like to thank Andrew for his generous contribution.