News & Events

A fascination with compost results in a bequest for OCAV

October 8, 2021

Dr Isabella Younger Ross is not a family name in Victoria but it ought to be.

She established Victoria’s first drop-in baby health clinic in Richmond., and she was a leading advocate for fresh food, breast feeding and gardening.

Which is how she became a Life Governor of OCAV, sat on its Council and eventually bequeathed the then princely sum of 500 pounds to the association.

Dr Younger Ross first visited Rushall Park in 1943 as a member of the Victorian Compost Society. There she met with Richard Weller, the Secretary/Superintendent, who was a keen composter. He had started experimenting with the Indore method, which   apparently created more nutritious compost as evidenced in the flourishing vegetable gardens.

Dr Younger Ross was fascinated by the simple brick and timber composting shells. She began sending compost novices to Rushall Park to learn more about what the association was doing and the benefits it was enjoying.

In 1944, Dr Younger Ross was invited to join the Council, and for three years was a member of the Building and Medical Sub-Committees. Two years later, and through her insistence, the OCAV book of minutes reported that more compost bins had been built “to enable all garden waste to be conserved and made into compost, instead of being burned. Compost making is being continued, and the Council expects better results next year, as more ground will be treated.”

Over the next few years, OCAV’s composting successes were heralded across Victoria and Tasmania. The Rushall Park gardens became a ‘showpiece and demonstration site’ for the Victorian Compost Society Indore methods.

A few years later, Weller’s interest and experimentation in composting progressed more dubiously. He became fascinated with the idea of using ‘night soil.’ The Council condemned the practice on the grounds it became a health risk to people.

Shortly afterwards, Dr Younger Ross stepped off the Council. She died in 1956 leaving a bequest to be spent at the organisation’s discretion.

Bequests and OCAV

If you have included Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria in your will, or would like further information, please contact OCAV on: 03 9481 9300.


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