ICAW 2022: Composting in the Forbes Garden

Welcome back everyone for another day of celebrating compost!

Today we feature our efforts to restart composting in the campus garden at Forbes College after a hiatus due to the pandemic.

We realized we needed better oversight of the composting efforts in this space to minimize odors, so we hired a student, Jesus Arroyo ’24, to coordinate food scraps drop-offs and to manage the compost pile and tumblers.

Check out our progress so far:

Day 1: Jesus using a pitch fork to pick-up food scraps delivered from a nearby student food co-op
Day 1: Layering the food scraps into our composting pile enclosed by a wire cage. We put a thick layer of wood chips at the base for leachate control
We also pre-mix the food scraps into the wood chips for even distribution. Here we used a ratio of about 2 parts wood to 1 part food. For higher moisture food like shown above, we’ll use a higher ratio of 3:1
Finished pile after Day 1
A few days later – using a temperature probe to monitor compost activity. We’ve managed temperatures in the “steady” (80 – 100 F) to “active” (101 – 130) ranges, but we need to increase our pile size to at least 4ft by 4ft by 4ft to get to the “hot” range (131 – 160 F)
Day 6 after more feedstocks have been added
First Turn: After 3.5 weeks when the temperatures stopped climbing, Jesus mixed the pile to allow microbes to access fresher material and to ensure proper aeration as the pile compacted. The goal will be to get the entire pile to look like the dark brown color in the center
Tumblers! The garden also has several of these to provide extra capacity, however, they can only handle so much. Still, they are a user-friendly option that is great for the new composter

Stay tuned for a video to meet Jesus and to see the work in action!

Thanks for reading!

Check back in for one more post tomorrow!