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Polk County Community Foundation sends area residents to compost school

Five individuals gained insight on how to reuse organic waste. (photo by Kyle Goddard, Little River Compost, Lisbon Falls, Maine.)

Have you wondered what happens to the kitchen waste and yard waste in our dumps or landfills? Have you wondered what happens when our landfills become too full?
Thanks to a grant awarded to the Saluda Community Land Trust by the Polk County Community Foundation, plus education funds provided by Polk County, five curious individuals gained insight on how to reuse organic waste.
Linda Byington took a course sponsored by the U.S. Composting Council at the campus of N.C. State University in Raleigh, N.C. Betsy Burdett, Joyce Hicks, Vaughn Loeffler and Laura Smith Williams traveled to the Maine Compost School at Highmoor Farm, a University of Maine research facility located in Monmouth, Maine.
So, what is composting?
Composting is a biological process that transforms raw organic materials into a nutrient-rich, biologically stable soil additive suitable for plant and crop use.
Generally speaking, a recipe is followed by blending a few ingredients such as food scraps, horse manure and wood shavings in a large pile or windrow.
Over a period of time, this pile is aerated or turned to achieve optimum conditions at high temperatures for micro-organisms to live and convert the organic waste into valuable compost.
Depending on the original recipe, environmental conditions, monitoring and management of the compost pile, in six months to one year, quality compost is ready for use.
A few examples of raw materials used in the composting process are: food scraps, fruit pomace, animal manures, fallen leaves, grass clippings, paper, wood shavings, wood chips and bio-solids.
The most common use of compost is as a soil additive to increase the soil’s organic matter.
Organic matter is critical for improving the soil’s ability to retain nutrients and thus improving plant growth.
Other common uses for compost include landscaping and garden mulch.
– article submitted by Laura Smith Williams