Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Compost collective

Our neighborhood compost collective has been launched!

This past weekend we hand-delivered a letter to all 78 mailboxes on our road introducing Longhaul Farm and our compost collective. Our neighbors' organic waste is valuable to us because it decomposes into rich organic fertilizer. Members of the collective will receive a new organic waste bin and an introduction to composting do's and don'ts. Members can throw any organic waste into their compost bins - yard waste, leaves, grass and hedge clippings, weeds, coffee grounds, food waste, vegetable peels, egg shells, wood ashes and more - and we will collect and clean the bins on a weekly basis.

We will add our neighbors' organic waste to our compost piles, where we will manage the conditions to encourage decomposition into "black gold," so they say.

We've piloted this project for the past six months with two very special nearby neighbors.* Now that it's launched, we've received our first official new member of our collective, who emailed us at longhaulny@gmail.com to join. We've even gotten an offer from a kind neighbor to share in her 30-year-old compost pile!

I hope this compost collective brings our neighbors together, either to share their waste or share their gardening stories. Thanks to all who join.

* Thanks to Nick and Hanay!

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Below is a FACT SHEET we will hand to our compost collective members.

Composting: How to turn your garbage into gold

Did you know? According to the U.S. EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals make up 23% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste that can become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead of being thrown into landfills!

What is composting? Composting involves mixing organic waste from yards and households in a pile or bin and providing appropriate temperatures, air circulation and moisture levels that encourage decomposition. The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria, fungi) that live in the compost pile, continuously eating and recycling it to produce a valuable organic fertilizer.

What is a “compost collective”? A compost collective is a group of people who separate and save their organic waste so that it can be collected and added to a compost pile. At Longhaul Farm we will provide members of the collective with a compost bin, teach about the do’s and don’ts of composting, collect organic waste and return the bin spic-and-span every week.

What materials can be composted? Almost any organic material can be composted. Have you been burning a lot of wood in your fireplace throughout this cold winter? Well, the wood ash is a perfect addition to compost piles! Are you spring cleaning your lawn and garden now that the snow has melted? All of those weeds, leaves, dead flowers and grass clippings can be thrown in! Do you cook at home? Food scraps and old leftovers can be composted, too -- You'll feel less guilty about throwing old leftovers away!

See below for a complete list of what CAN be put together into the compost bin.

Materials to compost
From your yard:

Garden waste
Grass clippings
Hedge clippings
Pine needles
From your home:

Coffee grounds
Dead flowers
Egg shells
Food waste**
Fruit waste
Old leftovers**
Peanut shells
Peels from vegetables and fruits
Vegetable scraps
Wood ashes

* Please avoid weeds that have gone to seed. We want to avoid spreading weed seeds around the garden!
** Meat, bones and dairy can take a long time to break down and are stinkier than other food waste. You do not have to compost them if you don't want to.

Any tips for composting? There are a few simple tips for composting. You can call us at Longhaul Farm with any questions or learn a lot on your own from reliable internet sources (e.g., www.composting101.com; www.compost.css.cornell.edu; www.the-compost-gardener.com).

Tip #1: Anything inorganic can not be composted. For example, cloth, wrapping, stickers, rubber bands, metal, glass and plastic containers or plastic bags should not be put in the compost bin. Please continue to put these in the garbage bin that is picked up by our local service.

Tip #2: Recycle paper products. Paper is organic, but since we already have an efficient paper recycling pick-up in our neighborhood, please continue to throw paper, colored paper, magazines, newspaper and cardboard in the recycling bin. These products can be composted, but only if they are shredded into tiny particles and we do not yet have the capacity to do that.

Tip #3: If your compost bin gets stinky: it’s ok! You haven’t done anything wrong. Once the bin is collected and added to our large compost pile, the conditions for less-smelly decomposition will fix the problem. Materials such as meat, bones, fats and dairy are more likely to make your compost smelly because they are broken down by different microorganisms than the rest of your organic waste. If you prefer, you can avoid throwing these protein-based materials in your compost bin.

Tip #4: When adding organic waste to your compost, don't squash the materials down to make more space. Squashing the contents will squeeze out the air that the aerobic microbes need to decompose your garbage.

Tip #5: If you plan on keeping your bin outside of your house, throw some leaves or other yard waste on top of the contents after you've added kitchen vegetable waste. This will help keep things balanced, reduce smells and make your compost bin less attractive to hungry animals.

When is pickup? We will schedule a weekly pick-up, just like your local garbage service. It will be on a different day than your local pick-up so the compost waste is not confused with other waste. We will explain more when we drop-off your bin.

Thank you for considering composting! Your waste will help us garden sustainably.

Please contact us anytime:
Longhaul Farm  
Jason Angell and Jocelyn Apicello
69 South Mountain Pass, Garrison, NY 10524
(845) 424-6277
Email: longhaulny@gmail.com
Facebook: longhaulny
Blog: www.longhauling.blogspot.com

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