FGS pilots new compost set-up in Areas 1 & 2
by Mike Mennonno, President, FGS
With the summer heat things tend to quiet down a bit in the gardens, but don’t be fooled! In July and August the board’s been working hard with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Green Team on our biggest ongoing communal project: our community compost!
Earlier this summer FGS Executive Board member Mario D’Amato and I met with composting guru Bruce Fulford of City Soil & Greenhouse Co., who was kind enough to visit our site, assess it, and offer his expert opinion.
The long and short of it? While our system of windrows is better than anything that came before, it is difficult for folks to dump further back in the row, and the piles are simply too small to generate much heat to break soft material down. To complicate this, folks have been told (by whom is never made clear, but I have been told in no uncertain terms by some of our old-timers that they were told, dagnabbit!) that woody material of up to two inches in diameter can be tossed in with soft material. “It’ll break down,” they assure me.
It won’t. Not in our compost. Anyone who has sifted through “processed compost” To get some soil for their beds will assure you of that.
There are, then, issues of both effective process and education we need to continue trying to tackle.
Bruce’s suggestion, for a start, was to utilize the perimeters of the compost areas for dumping, allowing folks to enter in the center and dump anywhere along the sides and back. This would provide easier access and alleviate some of the issues we have with dumping everything at the front of windrows, which blocks those wanting to dump further back and requires constant care by already tapped volunteers to then remove and re-locate.
So long as folks are conscientious about separating woody and soft material, the piles can be larger than in the current configuration, allowing us to generate a little more heat and break down the waste quicker and more thoroughly.
Here’s a clumsy diagram of what the new system will look like (at least until Mario gets around to making a prettier rendering):
There will be signage onsite, but if this is your compost area (Park Section and parts of Center South), let us know how it’s going, and help other members you see utilizing it to do it right!
We know there are lots of other issues with the compost, and we are trying to tackle all of them in time. Hopefully this first step will make it easier on everyone while also providing us with a higher quality compost!