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Ben and bEartha

Food waste recycling through community composting


In Ben & bEartha (or Ben and Bertha) we follow the story of passionate composter Ben Bushell of Community Compost, Nelson ( Ben’s taking community composting to the next level!

Why is composting important? What is aerobic composting? How can mechanical composting support the need for food waste solutions? And what’s the story with “community composting” anyway?

Through the inspiring story of Ben and his passionate composting community, we get to know bEartha. An automatic composting machine that’s about to revolutionise small scale commercial composting.

Watch the trailer for Ben & bEartha

More about the Ben & bEartha film and community composting

Ben and his team are offering a method of composting food scraps that could enable an entire city to be recycling food waste. And at the same time building a community of people who share a passion for creating a more beautiful world.

What is community composting?

Bens’ community composting program is a beacon of hope for many in the area. It’s a food scrap collection service using compost buckets distributed to local food businesses. It’s a composting process that has bEartha – an automated community-scale compost turner – at its heart. It’s an incredible team of volunteer community composters. And it’s turning local food waste materials into a finished compost.

It’s also returning valuable organic matter to the local soil when used by the city’s gardening and horticultural contractors. As composting programs go, it’s a shining example. A signpost to what’s possible when local people come together to create local solutions.

Why is composting important?

So even if community composting isn’t your thing yet, here’s a story that might surprise you. Might spark a fire for shared food scraps, compost piles, and microbes. And if small scale community composting’s already one of your great loves? Then we reckon this community-focused story is going to stir up your passion for a good compost heap!

Food waste recycling and community composting in particular might seem like small acts in the face of such a global issue. But food waste composting can play a crucial role in addressing climate change, reducing waste, and creating a regenerative food system. Let’s give it centre stage.

What people are saying about Ben & bEartha

I cried when the first compost came out of bEartha! Not only was it beautiful compost, and in just a week, but I’d been following Ben’s journey and it must have been such a relief after everything that had happened. Jordan and Antoinette you have captured yet another inspiring story and reminded us again that so much is possible. Thank you to you both, and to Ben and the composting team from Whakatū.

– Haana Willcox, Vimeo

People from Community Compost featured in Ben & bEartha

Head and shoulders image of Community Compost's Ben Bushell

Ben Bushell, Community Compost founder

Ben is the charismatic founder of Community Compost in Whakatū, Nelson. He started the composting service when he realised the need for recycling food waste instead of it going into landfill.

Head and shoulders image of Community Compost's Kate Howard

Kate Howard, Community Compost volunteer

Kate is one of the amazing volunteers for Compost Club who helps feed bEartha! She’s also part of the food scrap collection service which provides local food producing businesses with compost buckets to store food waste prior to collection.
Head and shoulders image of Community Compost's Shea Dawson

Shea Dawson, Community Compost engineer

Shea helped design the compost turner bEartha-1 and its successor bEartha-2. He was an integral part of the technology side of the build, developing a mechanical composting process that could turn a pile of food waste into finished compost.

What role can community composting play in food waste recycling?

  • Food waste composting is a critical solution to the impact of food waste on climate change – and one we can all be a part of.
  • Community composting to manage city-wide food waste is not only possible. It also creates huge benefits by building a community and empowering people to take part in positive solutions to our global crises.
  • bEartha is a template for a method of composting that can be replicated anywhere that funding can be sourced. We need city and regional councils to get behind initiatives like this!
  • Ben Bushell, the subject of this film, is available to discuss setting up a bEartha in your town. Or perhaps the uniqueness of your context requires a different approach than this particular bEartha? It’s all about creatively addressing our response to the issues! You can reach out to Ben and his team at

I was at the Nelson Saturday market and noticed how much food waste was going in the bins there…the enormity of how much organics was going to landfill. There’s 20,000 houses in Nelson and my ambition was to do it all…I felt like this was my opportunity to give back to the world that has given me so much.”

– Ben Bushell, Community Compost

More about Ben Bushell, the driving force behind Community Compost

Ben Bushell is a dedicated advocate for environmental sustainability. He’s also the passionate mind behind Community Compost and the composting machine he named bEartha. With a deep commitment to community composting, Ben is leading the way in collecting food scraps for composting at a city-wide scale. And in the process building a community that cares for our planet.

A leading voice in community composting

Ben Bushell has earned his reputation as a composting champion. He’s spent years driving local compost initiatives and sharing his expertise on food waste solutions. As a driving force behind Community Compost, he has continually emphasised the importance of community composting programmes, believing that with the help of a local composting service, food scraps need never go to waste.

Ben’s mission extends beyond methods of composting alone. He’s building a composting community around compost heap collaboration and organic matter recycling. What can you achieve when you combine compost bins, a collection service, and a composting programme? A sense of community responsibility and shared environmental stewardship.

From food scraps to finished compost – a vision for sustainable living

The heart of Ben’s work is the transformation of food scraps into finished compost. Through his dedication to composting food, he showcases how organic materials can be turned into valuable compost. His community composters highlight the many benefits of diverting food waste from landfills.

Ben envisions a world where composting and recycling food waste are an integral part of responsible living. And through Community Compost, he’s shown the value of local food waste solutions and community scale composting. Join Ben as he leads the way in transforming food scraps into a resource for our planet’s future.

Other films you might like

Closing the Loop

Take a tour of a family’s simple composting toilet setup and learn how this system can safely manage human waste and turn it into a beautiful resource!

The Plummery

This incredible backyard permaculture garden measuring only 100sq/m (1076 sq feet) produces over 400kg/900 pounds of food year-round!

From Finance to Farmer

Take a tour of a thriving food forest that, in just three years, is providing an abundance of produce for the couple who planted it.

Why make this film about community composting?

The enormous quantity of food scraps dumped in the world’s many landfills day after day is a huge contributor to climate change. The methane generated from anaerobic decomposition is a potent greenhouse gas.

“Right now, governments are making decisions about the future of food waste. But the proposed solutions tend to be large-scale, centralised, and wasteful in themselves. So we’re passionate about empowering communities to provide these solutions instead. Solutions that value compost as a precious resource, and create and strengthen social connections. Solutions that provide meaningful work and operate within a circular economy model.

“This film explores one such solution. It highlights the wide-ranging benefits of community composting in potential food waste solutions. It’s Happen Films’ contribution to the discussion about how we tackle food waste at the community scale.”

– Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson,
Happen Films

Visit ‘About us’ to learn more about Happen Films

What is community funded filmmaking?

We release the majority of our films online for free so we can reach as many people as possible. But this is only achievable thanks to the supporting donations we receive: from individual viewers, aligned organisations, and like-minded philanthropists. Without that funding, we can’t make the films we know need to be made.

If you’d like to support us, know that no amount is too small – every dollar becomes part of a fund that helps us make our next solutions-focused film.

To learn more about our approach to Community Supported Filmmaking, read the long-form blog post we wrote. Or visit the About page to learn more about us, about our ethics, and about how funds are used.

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