Thursday, September 29, 2016

Here's a Neat Trick for Harvesting Vermicompost

Have you ever tried to harvest vermicompost from your worm bin? Instead of spending hours picking worms out of the desired vermicompost (a.k.a., worm poop), we tried this simple method of getting the worms to separate themselves. Check out this video to see how it works.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bounty of a Lazy Composter

Hi, I’m Cher your guest blogger for today.

Anyone who has heard me talk about composting will confirm that I readily admit to being a lazy composter.

I do not chop my food scraps into tiny pieces to help them decompose faster. I do not worry about monitoring my compost for moisture – if it looks dry I take the lid off before it rains. I do not turn my compost every two to four weeks. 
And between you and me, I am not even avid about covering up my food scraps with carbon rich material. I just got myself two compost bins so I always have room (my lazy composting takes a little longer than active composting).
I may be lazy, but I’m no procrastinator.  I knew I was going to need room for my fall leaves, so I harvested one of my compost bins for the first time in two years.  The result:

I had so much finished compost I had to find innovative ways to store it until I could use it. I utilized my old recycle bin (I no longer need now that I have a 95 gallon recycling cart). I also used empty cat litter buckets and some old plant pots. And when I got really desperate, I repurposed a sturdy bird food bag.

Buddy was impressed.
Mission accomplished! Look at all the room I created for my leaves.

To conserve room and energy (my energy) I set my mower to bag the leaves and just emptied the chopped up leaves into my compost bins.   

Cher is a Program Specialist for the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ever Composted 70,000 Pounds in a Year?

Guest blogger Catherine Walsh

We have a couple of gems in our area – composting gems, that is. Two venerable institutions have taken matters into their own hands, so to speak, and addressed a large waste stream for each of them through on-site, in-vessel composting (composting in a very large, metal contraption).

Findlay Market, located right smack in downtown Cincinnati, is special for many reasons – it’s an historic landmark, it has continuously operated in the same iron-framed building since 1855, it’s an economic driver for the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, and it’s a really fun place to do your grocery shopping or just walk around. On top of all that, Findlay Market operates the first Class II composting facility in an urban area in the state of Ohio.

Class II composting facility, you ask? Well, that’s a designation that indicates it’s not a backyard composting pile (like the one at your house), but a regulated and managed operation that is permitted to accept and process food scraps from a business, in this case from Findlay Market itself.
Since it started managing food waste in 2010 by actively composting it in the Earth Tubs, Findlay Market has kept an average of about 70,000 pounds per year from going into the landfill. That's something to crow about! 

In-vessel composting system at Findlay Market.

Up the hill from Findlay Market is another long-lived institution that provides our region with education, community service, and some pretty darn good basketball. Xavier University, located in Norwood, Ohio, is home to more than 6,000 students, many of whom live and eat on campus. In fact, in a week during the school year, 30,000 meals are served and, about 3,500 pounds of food scraps are generated at the main student dining hall.

In 2013, Xavier installed in-vessel composting equipment and began to work toward the goal of keeping all organic waste out of the landfill. With the help of grant money from Ohio EPA, Xavier purchased special equipment they use to dehydrate cafeteria food scraps before processing that material in their in-vessel composting units.

The magnificent compost that this generated throughout the school year is the "X factor" that groundskeepers use to keep the 189-acre campus healthy and looking beautiful.

Thanks to all you regular readers and backyard composter for doing what you do. And thanks to these two major institutions for committing time and money to turning food scraps into a valuable resource for a healthy community.

Earth Tubs used to compost food scraps and yard trimmings at Xavier University.