How to use food waste to feed wildlife

To celebrate World Wildlife Day, we asked Woking resident and nature lover, Brian James, about using food waste to feed wildlife. Here’s Brian, in his own words:

“When I was at junior school, my mother used to feed breakfast food scraps to the robins. If she was at all slow in doing so, they would flutter and peck at the kitchen window. I found them wonderful to watch, especially as wild animals they were so close and trusting. The love of nature has stayed with me and has been infused into my family life as well as that of my children and grandchildren

“As the years have passed, I have continuously developed my interests in nature to the point where I now recycle all food waste for the benefit of nature. Thus, whilst my wife, Sue, cooks the evening meal, I am likewise in the kitchen dealing with ‘my birds’. After eating our meal, we then enjoy watching the wildlife eating theirs. Here’s how I do it:

• I reserve one shelf in the freezer to store perishable foodstuffs. I also store sunflower hearts and peanuts.
• All meat scraps, particularly fat, will be roughly chopped and then finely minced using an old-fashioned hand mincer that I bought from a charity shop.
• We use chicken bones to make stock, which is then frozen. As it freezes, I scrape the fat off for the birds (it also makes the stock healthier for us).
• Chicken bones are stripped of every scrap of meat (for mincing) with the bones cut into smaller pieces (using garden shears) so that wildlife can get at the marrow.
• Vegetable peelings are left to dry before they are used as food for mealworms, which most birds love.
• Eggshells are dried before being crushed to a powder and mixed with the minced bird food.

“Everything I cannot use as food for ‘my birds’ is put into my garden wormery to produce fine compost. This also applies to food with any signs of mould.

“The effort this entails is far, far less than we happily devoted to our family whilst they were growing up and not only are our efforts for nature of benefit to us, but they have similarly spread to our children and their families, where we and our grandchildren are able to enjoy nature together.”

Brian James of Woking, Surrey is an electronic engineer and business consultant with a keen interest in British flora and fauna.