Compost Project 6 months update July 2010
It is approximately 6 months since the Greater Providence Urban Agriculture Task Force convened our gathering at the Rhode Island Foundation to discuss compost and get energized by Bruce Fulford. Since that time many people have been busy working on more fully developing the composting of food scraps in RI, with the goal of producing high enough quality compost for food gardens and farms.
With a deep appreciation of the developing partnerships and the great work so many of you are doing I present here in outline form the various projects that are underway.
The Compost Project
· Thanks to Jeri Weiss and others’, US EPA New England has received an award from the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Innovation Work Group to fund the “Catalyzing Composting in Urban Communities project.” The project will provide technical assistance to help continue the good work that’s already being done in both Providence and Bridgeport (e.g. feasibility study, etc.).
· Ecotope, a recycling business based in South Providence, has begun developing and commercializing the MORPH and and related products and services as a way for restaurants to collect and hold until collection odor free food scrap. Ecotope will manufacture the units locally. The Morph was tested out by Chez Pascal on Hope St in Providence with pick up by Ledge End Farm, a licensed composter and organic farm. All parties are quite satisfied with how it is working out, and several of the partners are looking to expand production and collection.
· Dr. Vinka Craver of URI has built a very low cost anaerobic digester system on a small farm in Guatemala, and we are bringing together interested parties from several universities in RI to see what we can manufacture here in RI that we can also use here in our composting process. An Industrial design graduate student at RISD is the facilities sustainability intern this summer, and other local universities are also being drawn in. One community garden is considering a compost heated greenhouse.
· Also at URI there have been preliminary discussions between the Mallon Outreach Center (home of the Master Composter and Recycling program), the University Dining Hall management, a company trying to get into the compost business in that neighborhood and Ecotope about collecting compostables from University dining halls. Dr. Craver’s digesters may play a role in this discussion as well.
· RIRRC has begun upgrading its materials for home composters, and is also developing more new media outreach tools with a committee that developed out of our January gathering. I saw a recent draft and the materials are looking good.
· Cleanwater Action is coordinating a compostables collection at the Newport festivals…and arranging for it to be hauled to Earthcare Farm for composting.
· The UATF’s Plant Providence free city-wide workshop series hosted “Compost and Soil Fertility” training at RWPark Botanical Center, June 15th. www.plantprovidence.org
o In February I met with a number of people on Aquidneck Island who were interested in composting on a large scale. There has been some follow-up and a few discussions about how the restaurant industry on Aquidneck Island would be an excellent place to develop a system. A key issue here, and all over the state, is that there is a distinct lack of compost facilities. There is a commercial composter on the island with some capacity for composting food scrap. More capacity is needed before a strong system can develop. The next step may be to assemble a critical mass for the development of an Aquidneck Island facility and several organizations on the island, including the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission and the Newport Energy and Environment Commission have expressed interest in learning more.
What is Next:
A feasibility study under the auspices of EPA.
Further discussion with waste haulers.
Expansion of pilots projects, with the MORPH and restaurants pilot being at the top of the list.
More work with local colleges and universities.
Further exploration of entrepreneurial opportunities in the development of compost systems for RI.
Research, research, research on:
o The various ways of composting, which are appropriate at what scales and locations, and the costs associated with developing and maintaining the potential projects
- Technologies specifically related to anaerobic digestion/electricity production/composting facilities and associated costs.
Have you got a project? Do you want to connect to ongoing projects?
Are you working on something that would further the development of a compost system in RI? Do you need help and or new partners? Want to get involved in existing work?
The Compost Project is here to help. Call
ECRI, on behalf of the Greater Providence Urban Agriculture Task Force