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Hum(m)us Recipe

Everything you need for a slow-burn multispecies meal.

Indulge in a leisurely woodland walk afterwards.
Best served in crepuscular light.

Pre-heat a suitable patch of ground (1m3).
Dense woodland is best.


You will need:

Nitrogen (N) and Carbon (C) ingredients at a ratio of 1:3 Equal parts Mesophilic and Thermophilic microbes

For the Nitrogen material:

Seaweed (foraged at low tide in a thunderstorm)

Algae (scooped from a pond using an old shoe)

Thick mulchy leaves (beneath a large Ash tree with Chalara)

Hair (from a human head, given as a gift)

Lake Moss (from a frog’s bed)

Grass cuttings (cut with nail clippers on the first day of Spring)

Blood Meal (mixed with molasses)

For the Carbon material:

Eggshells (crushed barefoot)

Shredded newspaper (The Sun)

Oak leaves (from a 300 year old tree)

Pine needles (collected for tea)

Corncob (gnawed by false teeth)

Brown paper bags (Wholeearth, torn apart by toes)

Straw (from the head of a scarecrow)

For the composting:

Air (foggy with an easterly wind)

Water (10 mouthfuls of rainwater)

Earthworms (charmed using a wooden stob and dulled saw)


To make the Hum(m)us, first lay a pile of twigs and sticks in a criss-cross pattern on your patch of ground, this will help the air to circulate.

Next, layer the Carbon and Nitrogen ingredients on top of the twigs. Begin with the Carbon, continue with the Nitrogen, then more Carbon and the remaining Nitrogen, sprinkle the last of the Carbon on top to finish the pile.

Add water.

The ingredients should feel like a damp sponge.

Topsoil top tips- test the consistency of your mixture, take a handful and squeeze tightly. This should release a single drop of water. If this is achieved, you have the perfect moisture content! If the pile is too wet, add more dry ingredients. If it is too dry, add fog. Taste the air with your tongue.

Mix the ingredients together. The mixture should heat to a temperature between 104-160 degrees. Heat helps the ingredients decompose quickly and keeps the pile operating at its peak. Stirring moves the cold ingredients to the warm centre of the pile and replenishes food and oxygen for the microorganisms breaking down the mixture.

Topsoil top tips- to achieve the best texture, use a pitchfork to carefully move the outer biomass into the core of the pile. When turning the mixture, dance three times around the pile, anti-clockwise.

Mix thoroughly every four-seven days until cooked.

You will know your Hum(m)us is ready when it smells earthy and has a deep, rich, chocolaty-brown colour. The soil will be light and fluffy with a velvety texture.

Enjoy by the shovelful!

Sarah Blissett

Sarah Blissett is an artist/researcher and Performance Studies PhD candidate at the University of Roehampton. Her research investigates Food and Ecology in Performance through a study of algae organisms and ecosystems, in collaboration with Blanch and Shock Food Design. Her past projects include a number of cross-art form collaborations, devised theatre, puppetry, aerialism, interactive installations and performance dinners. In 2012, Sarah founded the interdisciplinary artist collective Project Boondock, working with arts organisations including: Arnolfini, The Arcola, Little Angel Theatre, BAC, Oxford House, The Pigeon Wing, Tate Raw Canvas, Platform 1 Gallery, The Bussey Building, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness Festival and Hackney WickED.