Following are some excerpts from an article about composting that I recently wrote for the Kent County Daily Times. The photo was taken at Earth Care Farm, an organic farm composter in Charlestown, RI, where my master composter class once visited on a field trip.
The following information is for those who don't want to start their own compost pile. There are many places to buy finished compost:
Earth Care Farm, Rhode Island’s oldest operating farm composter, sells compost by the cubic yard. Earth Care Farm’s compost is a unique blend of farm animal manure, municipal yard waste, fish scraps—even elephant and camel manure from Roger Williams Park Zoo. Visitors to the farm are treated to the sight of mountains of manure in various stages of decomposition.
Warwick’s Municipal Composting Facility offers compost made from yard debris collected by the town’s yard waste collection program. Their compost is available free to Warwick residents and for purchase to non-residents. And if you prefer to shop at local nurseries and gardening centers, many types of pre-packaged compost are available.
But if you do want to compost at home, here's some information about buying a bin.
To start composting at home, you’ll need a compost bin. You can build one but it’s much easier to buy one. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center (Central Landfill) sells a variety of compost bins at a significant discount from the regular retail price. Set the bin up in a convenient place outside.
The most popular bin sold by the RIRRC is the Soil Saver. About the size of a garbage bin, it’s made of black recycled plastic and has a 12 cubic foot capacity. Materials are placed in the bin from the top. A sliding door allows you remove “cooked” compost from the bottom of the bin while continuing to put fresh materials in the top.
“The Soil Saver is the right size for most households,” says Tara Germond, coordinator of the University of Rhode Island's master composter program. “It can handle a lot of food and yard waste and doesn’t look obtrusive in your back yard.”
Tara coordinated and led many of the lectures in the master composter program. On the first day of class, she explained to us one of the most important reasons for Rhode Islanders to compost.
"There's only so much available space at the [RI] Central Landfill," Germond explains. "At the current rate, the Landfill will reach its capacity in between twelve and fifteen years. Composting is important because it helps divert waste from the Landfill."
Now, unless you live here, this won't resonate with you, so I'll elaborate. Rhode Island is such a small state that we only have one landfill. And it's going to be full in 12-15 years. That means, in 15 years, we'll have nowhere to take our trash. We'll have to send it out-of-state. In addition to being totally ridiculous situation, our taxes are going to skyrocket.
Just for fun, here's a photo of the landfill, taken from about 10 miles away, near Brown University. The domed building on the right is the State Capitol. The long brown bump in the middle of the horizon is the landfill–it's the highest point around!
So get composting Rhode Island! (And recycle too!)
Photo of RI Central Landfill courtesy of Sierra Club Rhode Island Chapter.