I work at the University of Memphis, Lambuth Campus in Jackson Tennessee. I started composting food scraps from the Blue Grey Cafe on our campus February 2018. I used a plastic tilt truck as my composting container, I drilled holes in the bottom and keep it covered with a tarp. First I filled it full of leaves that I collected on campus. Then I began adding whatever food scraps our Cafe left for me after their meal preps. I gave them a bucket with a lid and I checked it every afternoon. I did not start weighing the amount collected until Fall 2018. I only collect during the Spring and Fall semesters. Fall semester totaled 157 lbs of food waste diverted, so I estimate that if as much was collected in Spring, we diverted around 300 lbs of food waste in one year.
I use two large tilt trucks for the compost. I add to one in the spring and the other throughout the fall. I turn the bins with a pitchfork every time I add fresh materials. It takes about 2 months for the compost to finish decomposing and be ready to put out in the garden. I have successfully made one usable batch of compost since last year and my second batch will be ready to put out into our campus flower beds whenever we start planting this Spring. It is fulfilling to know that we have turned waste into a valuable resource for our campus. Recently we developed a poster informing faculty and students how to compost at home. I have added two vermicompost bins on campus as well! I am excited to use some of our shredded paper waste as their bedding and to see how much of the Cafe food waste they are able to consume.
-Submitted by Camille Sikes of Madison County.
Great work, Camille!
How can you initiate composting in your community?! Send your personal compost stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Rhett Harrell for earning January's "Exemplary Composter of the Month". Rhett has shown great commitment to composting and has gone above and beyond in his efforts in Come, Post your Compost. Here is his personal composting story:
"I grew up learning a lot about gardening from my mom. She composted by the dig and dump method and after years had incredible garden soil. We recently moved to Tennessee from the Atlanta area and purchased a new home in Lenoir City. I am planning on building a garden in the coming months to grow vegetables for my family. I have started pricing out garden soil and compost and decided to try and produce as much compost as I can. Following a simple design I found from the Joe Gardener podcast, I collected a few pallets and started collecting compostable material. Shortly after hearing the podcast, I saw an advertisement promoting the “Come post your compost” and I signed up. I heard Starbucks would give out free coffee grounds and when I asked for the grounds my first time, I was surprised how many grounds were produced in just a few hours. Every time I pick up a bag at a local Starbucks, I still am shocked how many grounds are thrown away each day. The thing that makes me so happy is seeing my kids bring me material and ask if we can put it in the compost bin. They were shocked to see the steam rising from it the first time I turned it. Thank you Tennessee Environmental Council for this opportunity and we are all excited to see all the vegetables our garden will produce this summer."