The NeighbourFood Podcast


A lesson in composting with Donal O'Leary, of Waste Down, the king of compost!

Today we are chatting to Donal O’ Leary, environmental consultant and composting king!. This is a super informative fun episode that smashes all myths and tricks about home composting! Donal is on a mission to get us all to composting, from complete beginners to people who need a bit of guidance on getting their composting formula right. Everyone can give it a go and it’s a great way to reduce our food waste and play a part in creating a healthier ecosystem! It’s a winner!!!

Donal runs an environmental and food waste consultancy called Waste Down. So in his day to day work, he spends lots of time with school groups, community groups and so on, but he also works commercially with companies who want to compost. He’s recently joined the team at CUSP; Cork Urban Soil Project,  so he will give us an update on that. For regular listeners of our podcast, you may remember the chat we had with Virginia O’Gara, who told us all about that particular project, and how food waste is not waste at all, but an asset! It’s a good listen.

But for the majority of today’s chat, Donal is going to give us the lowdown on how to get to grips with home composting. So think this podcast more as a workshop, because we are looking at how nature provides the blueprint for creating great compost; what are the reasons we should all be doing this in the first place; what are the mistakes that composting newbies make and how can we rectify them?; we look at a few different composting methods including traditional composting bins, wormeries and bokashi, great examples where these systems have been used and if composting became a more integrated part of all our lives, what would that mean for our future?

Here are some useful links and resources to help you on your composting journey.

More Episodes


Potato Potato - Ireland's love affair with the humble spud (replay)

This week, we decided to revisit a classic episode from the NeighbourFood podcast archives. As you may have heard, the World Potato Congress that was recently hosted in Dublin, we felt this was a topical and fun episode and a fun look at Ireland’s love affair with the humble spud.Throughout this episode we have with lots of contributors who tell us why this is.We speak to food writer John McKenna of McKenna's Guides about Ireland’s romantic connection to the food that let us down in our past and yet how we return time and time again, like a faithless lover to the spud we love so well.Did you know the process of flavouring crisps was invented here in Ireland? That’s right and Tayto Crisps are responsible for the world-famous cheese and onion flavour! We tracked down Peter Murphy, son of Joe “Spud” Murphy, the founder of Tayto who told us about his entrepreneurial dad, his Peter Pan existence and that Ah-Ha moment when they stumbled across the much-loved Cheese and Onion flavour combination.There are small farmers throughout the country growing potatoes for their local market. We speak to Maria Flynn of Ballymackenny Farm Potatoes who taking over the family farm, realised they were never going to survive on glowing Roosters and Queens alone. So they took a chance on growing heritage and heirloom speciality potatoes and targeting chefs with their more unusual produce. When the pandemic hit, they lost 100% of their customers overnight, so we hear their story of survival.Now, do you think it’s possible to live on Potatoes alone? We find a man in India who claims to do just that. The Aloo Baba lives in the mountains in Pushkar, India and eats 10kg potatoes a day!!!! That’s some feat, but he claims it keeps him young and gives him clarity. Vikrant Naidu, chef at The Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork steps in to translate and also gives us an insight into the culture of potatoes in his home county of India.And finally, potatoes are far more than a carbohydrate on our plate, they also make an interesting ingredient in spirits, such as Poitin. Michael O’Boyle of Baoilleach Distillery in Donegal explains why spuds were sometimes used in the mashbill of poitín makers back in the day and when he chooses to continue this tradition in his own poitin collection “Mulroy Bay”.Enjoy this spudcast full of poppy love.