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COMPOSTING UPDATE:

Shenandoah Green Compost Station Returns to the Staunton Farmers’ Market!

 

The Shenandoah Green Compost Station will return to the Staunton Farmers’ Market this Saturday, May 29, from 8am to 12pm. Volunteers will be present to answer questions. Volunteers will wear face masks and practice social distancing. Contributors are also requested to wear face masks and to stay six feet away from others. The Compost Station will be set up so that you may deposit your food waste without touching anything, and drop a donation into a jar, if desired. Compostable bags in portions of five will be available with a single touch; see below for sources of compostable bags to avoid touching anything at all.

 

Important! Anyone who is showing symptoms of, has been exposed to, or suspects that they have been exposed to COVID-19 is discouraged from participating in the Compost Station and events at the Farmers’ Market.

 

The Compost Station, as part of the Staunton Farmers’ Market, is operating under guidelines from the governor, which include wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. For more information regarding purchases from Market vendors, see the Farmers’ Market website.

 

Compostable bags are available at the Kroger’s on Statler Blvd, aisle 13, in various sizes. RefillRenew and Cranberry’s are in the process of stocking compostable bags; contact them regarding their status. Compostable bags are also available online. The bags we give out at the Compost Station are:

  • Larger, heavier bags : 2.6 gallon – 16.3” x 16.5”; Kroger has bags this size also.

  • Smaller, thinner bags (unfortunately these may only be sold by the case now, which is not suggested, since they may decompose before you can use them!): 1 gallon -- 11” x 17”

Make sure your bags have the BPI label to confirm that they are compostable:

 
 

COMPOSTING CO-OP

Calling all composters! 

 

Shenandoah Green is pleased to announce a new way to encourage composting in the Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro (SAW) area: Compost Cooperatives.

 

Imagine a compost bin in your neighborhood in which you can discard your household food waste any hour of the day, any day of the week. In addition, once a year, if you desire, you receive back rich soil made from the composted material to use in your garden or potted plants.You will know that your efforts are reducing the production of greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.

 

Shenandoah Green will pilot the first Compost Cooperative at the Sunspots Pavilion (at the corner of Byers and Lewis streets in the Wharf area of downtown Staunton) with a subscription period of June 1-November 30, 2020. Subscribers to the pilot program will pay $30.00 for six months’ round-the-clock access to the bin and will share the bin with 19 other subscribers. We envision launching neighborhood Compost Cooperatives in the coming months, taking what we learn from the pilot to fine tune the running of additional Cooperatives.

 

To sign up for the pilot Sunspots Compost Cooperative, fill out this form. The first twenty registrants to submit the form with payment ($30.00 by check or cash; details on the form) by Wednesday, May 27 will be enrolled as subscribers for this pilot. If we have enough subscribers for a second pilot bin, we will create one. If we do not, those who sign up after the first twenty will be put on a list for participation in neighborhood Compost Cooperatives as they are created. We are also creating Co-ops with 10 members paying $60 for a six month period; if you have friends interested in forming such a group, let us know on the form.

 

During the pilot, Mary Satterfield, Shenandoah Green Compost Project Leader, will serve as Bin Coordinator for the Sunspots Compost Cooperative, monitoring the bin for contaminants and space, and providing information to subscribers. Let us know if you have any questions or ideas. This is a citizen-led effort and will be most successful with the input of many!

 

For the earth!

 

FOOD WASTE >>>>> COMPOST

Did you know that a third of the “trash” in the landfill is actually food waste? Unfortunately, due to the lack of oxygen, food waste in the landfill is essentially “mummified” for decades. As it very slowly decomposes, it produces significant amounts of harmful greenhouse gases.

 

 In the Staunton/Augusta County/Waynesboro area, we now have the opportunity to compost our food waste. Composting reduces our garbage volume, reduces our impact on the environment since less methane is being produced, and the compost improves the soil made from this part of our garbage.

 

 

This is great, but I already compost at home. Congratulations for taking an important step in giving back to the environment! One advantage of composting through Shenandoah Green is that we partner with Black Bear Composting, an industrial scale composter. Black Bear can compost any food waste, including meat, bones, and dairy products, unlike a household compost bin. Some of our food waste contributors just bring us the material they can’t put in their own composting bin.

 

What is composting? Composting is the process of decomposing food waste back into its original components, producing nutrient-filled soil. Our forebears composted because they recognized that what we now call food “waste” is actually a rich resource for growing plants. As a society, we are beginning to recognize the value in our food waste and the limit of our resources. Composting is a simple way of recycling food waste into valuable soil.

 

I’ve never collected food waste before? How do I do it? Most people begin by having a bowl or a container on the kitchen counter, perhaps with a compostable bag as an insert. As food is prepared during the week, the food waste is collected and when the bag is full it’s moved to another location. Some people have a larger container with a tight lid outside their back door or in the garage. Some people prefer to store full bags of food waste in the freezer. On Saturdays, the bags of food waste are brought to the Shenandoah Green Compost Station.

 

How do I know what’s compostable? “If it grows, it goes,” is the simple maxim that we follow. In other words, if you have a plant-based food, it’s compostable. And since we’re using an industrial-scale composter, meat, bones, and dairy products are also acceptable. For more details, see the comprehensive list, or guidelines, at the very bottom of this page.

 

How does composting work? Composting is a process in which microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, in the presence of oxygen and water use the carbon of our food waste for energy and decompose the organic wastes. This process produces heat which kills pathogens and seeds. The remaining carbon is stable humus that is weed-free and safe to use for agriculture, landscaping, gardening or other purposes.

How does the Staunton Compost Station work? Bring your food waste to the Compost Station and dump it in the bin – it’s that easy! The bin will go to Black Bear Composting and be turned into compost. 

What are the costs associated with this project? Who pays for this effort? Costs for food waste collection at the Shenandoah Green Compost Station involve having people at the Compost Station to publicize the effort, answer questions, and to make sure the collection bin is used for appropriate material. This work is done by volunteers. For the collection bin, and to turn the food waste into compost, Black Bear Composting charges $11.10 per week, with a $125 fee per ton of food waste (about 40 bins worth), plus we purchase kitchen bin-sized compostable bags to give to users. So far, we’ve been able to raise enough money through donations to cover the costs associated with the Compost Station! 

 

This sounds great! How can I get involved? We are all volunteers and we depend on volunteers to make the Compost Station possible. If you’re interested in working with us, email us at ShenendoahGreen@gmail.com with “compost” in the subject line. We’d love to have you join us, in whatever capacity you are able.

Can I trade my food waste and compostables for compost? We expect to have small amounts of compost available for sale or to give away each Spring; larger amounts of compost are available for purchase from our partner, Black Bear Composting. You can feel good about the work you’re doing to recycle your food waste into compost, keeping it out of the landfill where it produces harmful greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

 

What kind of bags are compostable? Look for Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI)-certified compostable “plastic” bags. Note that some bags say they are biodegradable, but are not compostable; look for this image. This certifies that the product completely biodegrades in a commercial-scale composting environment.

 

Where can I buy compostable bags? 

Local sources of compostable bags:

  • RefillRenew, at 110-1 Baldwin St, is in the process of stocking compostable bags; contact them regarding their status. 

  • Simple Truth Small Compostable Kitchen Bags, from Kroger, 850 Statler Blvd, Aisle 13. These are the same size as the larger, heavier Lirex bags that we carry at the Compost Station.

  • Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery, 7 S. New St, is in the process of stocking 1-gallon bags, the smaller size we provide at the Compost Station. They do have a Compost Keeper, a ceramic bin to go on the countertop that uses 1-gallon bags.

 

On-line sources of compostable bags:

**Note that once compostable bags get wet and/or warm they will start to decompose. Some people store filled bags in the freezer or refrigerator until they can take them to a drop-off site, and they carry them in another container such as a 5-gallon bucket.

 

I don’t have any compostable bags; can I use a brown paper bag? Yes! Your compostables can be dumped directly from another container or placed in a paper bag, paper box (remove any plastic tape and/or plastic labels) or BPI-certified compostable “plastic” bag.

 

Help! My filled compostable bags are starting to disintegrate before I can get them to you! 

Compostable bags will start to decompose and leak when wet and warm so carry them in a sturdy container for depositing to the bins.

I have so much food waste that it’s attracting fruit flies and starting to smell. Any suggestions? Add a paper towel or any non-glossy paper to your kitchen bin to soak up the excess moisture that small insects love. Consider storing excess food waste in the freezer, or in a larger bin outside, until you can bring it to the Compost Station on Saturday. You could also store your kitchen bin in the refrigerator or freezer to slow the decomposition process. 

 

How can meat, bones, dairy, and other proteins be acceptable? These materials are most successfully composted in an industrial composting facility like Black Bear Composting. The high heat required to safely and completely break them down cannot be achieved through backyard composting. 

 

Can I bring my yard waste such as grass trimmings, weeds, and brush? We are only accepting residential food waste at this time. Yard waste can be taken to the Regional Landfill where it is ground up and used for mulch. 

 

I’d like to purchase some compost; is that possible? Compost is available for sale from Black Bear Composting, blackbearcomposting.com, 888/666-4172. 

How do I sign up for food waste collection at my home? Reach out to Black Bear Composting, blackbearcomposting.com, 888/666-4172.