Compostables to Compost - the Path From Collection to Completion
Updated: Sep 21, 2018
The process of turning food waste and other compostable items into nutrient-dense compost starts with you! Everyone creates kitchen waste, much of which is compostable. Making the decision to recycle your organic waste is step one. If you're reading this, you're probably already on board - thanks!
Step Two - Collection
Interestingly, many people refer to food waste as 'compost' and call the service of collecting the waste 'compost collection' - a common misnomer. Compost is the end product of a somewhat simple organic process that requires a somewhat time-consuming method of action to complete.
We collect compostables - food scraps, coffee grounds, yard waste etc. Start by putting your organic waste into our 5 gallon bucket (residential) or 55 gallon cart (commercial) and we will whisk your waste back to our local farm. Collection occurs weekly or biweekly.
The Compost Recipe
Most organic items may be composted one way or another. Our umbrella term for these organic materials is 'compostables' and include:
Nitrogen-rich greens: food waste, coffee grounds, grass clippings and other green yard waste
Carbon-rich browns: leaves, straw, wood chips
Recipe: Greens and browns are combined in a specific ratio (1:20) in a specific volume (minimum 4' x 4' x 4').
Method of Action: In order to decompose fully, compost must be turned often, each day or every other day.
Go with the flow: It's an art and a science; while we generally follow a 1:20 or 1:25 ratio, adjusting brown and green ingredients may be needed based on how the compostables are breaking down.
Step Three - On the Farm
All food scraps are brought to our Montpelier farm for composting (located ten miles north of Richmond, VA). Once compostables arrive at our farm, they are weighed and sorted based on the compost bin destination:
Leafy greens and non-seedy items - direct to worm bins
Seedy scraps and starches - to temporary bins to help break them down and sterilize seeds before being transferred to worm bins. These are closely monitored to ensure ideal conditions for proper decomposition.
Fresh 'edible' scraps - No, we don't snack on your food waste, but fresher scraps go to a compost bin accessible to chickens. They thank you heartily. Chicken manure is collected and composted for a rich nitrogen source in our finished product.
Step Four - Processing and Packaging
After food scraps have been converted to compost, a months-long process, we sift out the undesirable or unfinished elements using a series of screens. After screening, the finished compost is black and fluffy - perfect for mixing with soil or top-dressing garden beds.
We bag the product and give it back to our customers to use in the garden, on houseplants, or to give to that Friend With the Green Thumb. It can also be donated to a local farm (we deliver!).
We Call Ourselves Earth-Conscious for a Reason
We're a sustainable farm, meaning we live by a set of tenets that guide our daily actions. We're consistently evaluating our methods to improve. Among our basic principles of sustainability:
- All yard waste, manure, and paper products are composted. Since we are also a landscaping company, we have plenty of yard waste (browns) to mix with incoming food waste (greens).
- Crops are native and/or suitable to our farm. We take into consideration whether a plant will naturally thrive without use of irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides.
- Fertilization is always organic and consists primarily of worm tea - a very effective all-around plant protectant.
- Pesticides are not used. We monitor plants and manually remove pests.
- We are a glyphosate-free farm! We use barrier methods for preventing weeds (e.g. cardboard) and use horticultural vinegar on walkways and driveways.
- Rain is a resource. We collect in rain barrels and use collected water on plants throughout the farm.
- We plan our farm so that native, flowering plants are available spring through fall to attract pollinators.
- We're gas-free! Our mowers, blowers, weed eaters and hedge trimmers are battery-powered.
- Our chickens are utilized throughout their natural life - non-layers are still great contributors to the farm! They till garden areas, fertilize, eat bugs and help with composting. (Older girls are separated from laying girls for logistical purposes.)
- We recycle glass, aluminum, cardboard, paperboard and plastics 1/2.
- We are always on the lookout for new ways to make our operation environmentally efficient. Ever reducing our carbon footprint is important.
Come On Board!
Feel free to contact us today for compostables collection - we'll deliver a bucket for your food scraps, convert them to compost and deliver you the finished, bagged product. No need to worry about those steps in the middle.