Every garden needs a heart to pump nutrients through its veins. For us compost making is the heart and soul of our farm. High quality compost is hard to find, some would say impossible to buy commercially. The quality differences are huge and we have not come across a supplier that can deliver a balanced compost with the right set of microorganisms present to grow healthy plants that are resistant to pest and disease attack. 

We have made our own compost on a small urban section (500m2 section) and a large scale (4-5 tonnes per year) for over 10 years and therefore know what it takes to make it in an urban and a farm setting.

ABOVE: A layer of compost is added to the no-dig garden before planting. Note the amount of worms present. 

Compost is essential to recycle nutrients, build soil, feed the soil microorganisms and to grow healthy vegetables high in nutrients and without pest and disease problems.
We love to share our knowledge and experience so that you can make your own high-quality compost. 

This is an action packed morning learning how to make a proper hot compost heap. You will be introduced to composting and will learn why things are done a certain way. To deepen this knowledge we will be building a hot compost heap right on the day.

Cornelia will also introduce you to a simple way of composting your household food scraps and will teach you how to change your compost recipe to suit various crops. 

Come along to our stunning place in Pigeon Bay and bring all your questions in regard to composting.


  • Benefits of Bio-complete compost
  • The Soil Food Web
  • Bio-complete compost vs. commercial compost
  • Suitable materials to make compost and their carbon to nitrogen ratio
  • Building a layered, hot compost heap using leaves, straw, grass clippings, garden waste, seaweed, manures and other additives and activators
  • The various stages of a compost heap
  • Signs of finished compost
  • We will also touch on Bokashi composting and worm farming

This workshop is for beginners as well as advanced gardeners, lifestyle block owners and farmers interested in organics and thinking about converting from conventional farming to biological/regenerative agriculture. 

There are accommodation options right in Pigeon Bay and in Akaroa (only 30 minutes by car). 

Above: Materials are gathered and composting site is prepared. 

Above: The cleaned up site and the compost is starting to heat up.

Above: Temperatures are measured to ensure the compost is ticking along nicely.

Tutor: Cornelia Holten

Cornelia is passionate about compost and whips up a heap every 2-4 weeks to guarantee a continuous supply for our farm. She is an herbalist and slow food educator with a passion for simple living, DIY, herbs and self-sufficiency. A certificate in Organic Horticulture, soil consultant in training at Dr Elaine Ingham's Soil Food Web School, Permaculture design certificate, an Apprenticeship in Herbal Medicine and living on a farm in Pigeon Bay equip her with a lot of knowledge and experience with growing food and living a healthy life.

She is teaching workshops on sustainable food systems, compost making, whole foods, fermentation, primal diets and organic gardening. A thirst for knowledge and a passion for new scientific studies keep her well informed on those topics.

Data sheet

information and practical knowledge
Vanessa 28/05/2021

Hot compost making

The course was great! Very well run, with a good hour of theory first, after which i thought i under stood the process, but it was not until we actually built the heap ourselves I understood how much carbon was needed!!! Great morning of learning. Will be making my own heap this week for sure!!!

Chris W 24/05/2021

Great Hot compost Making workshop

Thanks Cornelia your workshop was awesome. I love the way you teach you have a wealth of knowledge and have a love for sharing this. Thank you . :-)

Kristen 24/05/2021

Great morning

I learnt a lot about the process and construction, hands on aspect was great, now confident to make my own. Just have to find the materials

Kate Anderson 05/05/2021


this Cornelia certainly is...! Great to have had this experience, to see and be part of the construction, to witness an example of the finished product and to see who lives and keeps the cycle going under the microscope.....thank you, your passion is inspiring to all :-)

David Boustead 05/05/2021

Hot Compost Making

Thankyou Guys for the Workshop. Very informative and full of great ideas. Well done. Loved it.

Carol & Graeme Tait 03/05/2021

Great Workshop

This course showed us what we had been doing wrong for years. We learned so much from the hands on approach. Awesome to meet more like minded people.

Derek & Sue Marr 07/05/2018

Very enjoyable and we learned heaps

Thanks Cornelia for the compost day. Very enjoyable and we learned heaps esp the composting and liquid fertiliser. It was also good to hear you reinforce the process for worm farming and bokashi that we already have at home. The leaves as a thermal layer for the worms was something new we picked up. Keep up the great work.

Kaitlyn 29/05/2017

Composting workshop

It was a great afternoon, definitely learnt so much! I'm off collecting leaves for the rest of the week!

Ross 29/05/2017

Great inspiration

Thanks for a great workshop, it was really inspiring. I am getting some bits and pieces organised to make a stack before winter.

Thea Hewitt 29/05/2017

Practical learning and amazing tea time food.

One of the best workshops I've been to. Lots of info in an easily understood manner of learning it - Cornelia's presentation was fantastic and her passion overwhelming and inspiring.

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