EALFN Composting Institutional Waste For Community Garden

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EALFN Composting Institutional Waste For Community Garden

Post  Shep on Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:09 am

The Emporia Area Local Food Network (EALFN) has been procuring food waste from the ESU cafeteria for composting at the Emporia Community Garden. Local coffee shops are donating coffee grounds to the project as well. One more way recycling turns brown into green!


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Composting suggestions

Post  Ben Stallings on Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:45 am

I took a look at the composting setup at FHTC yesterday and have some suggestions to offer. I'll post this to the EALFN email list, too.

The wire rings are great -- just the right size to ensure a critical mass of compost. But their haphazard arrangement will cause confusion if/when more people get involved with the project. Given the space available, I'd recommend arranging them in a line just inside the fence. Then have a path for access, and on the other side of the path will be the new locations for turning the piles. To illustrate with a little ASCII art, right now you have


I recommend filling in the spaces with new piles so you have


then when it's time to turn a pile, remove the wire cage from that pile, set it up directly across the path, and fork the uncomposted material back into the cage, like this:


That way it will be clear at a glance which piles have been turned already, so a new person looking for work to do will know not to turn the first pile a second time, but to proceed to the next one. When all the piles have been turned and it's time to turn them again, move them back to the original locations. During each move, the finished compost will filter through the tines of the fork and wind up on the ground, where it can be shoveled up and used.

Ideally there should be a sign to indicate which pile is the one to put new material into. Otherwise people will put scraps just anywhere, which will result in live weed seeds and undigested bits of food winding up in otherwise finished compost. I bet somebody at FHTC knows how to make a weatherproof sign that will be highly visible.

When I visited yesterday, there was not nearly enough brown matter (leaves) in use for the amount of green matter (food waste). The people who add green matter should immediately put a layer of leaves on top, primarily to keep the flies down, but also to retain moisture and keep the nutrients in balance. It wouldn't hurt to also add some finished compost (or compost tea) now and then to inoculate the piles with good bacteria; otherwise the bacteria in the food are likely to dominate, and that won't smell as good!

The piles may not need water right away, but they will need it eventually, particularly when they are turned from one location to another. I'm not clear on where the spigot is located and where a hose can be found. Make sure whoever does the turning knows where to find water, since that's the ideal time to add water.

Hope this advice is helpful! --Ben

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