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NERC was awarded grant funding from the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Utility Services, Solid Waste Management Grant Program, for a project titled Implementing Rural Community Composting in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
NERC’s project will focus on working with communities to divert food scraps and yard/garden trimmings to community-based compost operations. Of a scale between backyard and industrial composting systems, community composting fosters action on a local level to divert food scraps from disposal. Many Community compost sites serve as outdoor education centers and provide training in food waste composting to residents, schools, institutions, and businesses. Such operations can also be an important component of efforts by rural areas and small towns to divert organics from landfills.
The goals of this multi-faceted project are: 1) Develop multimedia “be a community compost expert” training resources about how to establish and sustain community composting sites. The training resources—videos, written tip sheets, and webinars—will comprise a Community Composting Training Course; 2) Deliver remote, local and regional trainings utilizing the Community Composting Training Course; 3) Provide technical assistance and support for the management of food and organic waste through community composting sites. Technical assistance will include site design, composting options, training of site volunteers, and troubleshooting; and 4) Develop a two-part National Capacity Building Webinar modeled on the community composting training course and incorporating lessons learned at the community compost sites.
A team of organics experts has been assembled to work with NERC on developing the training resources, including: Natasha Duarte, Director, Composting Association of Vermont; Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator, Vermont Community Gardens Network; Dawn Pettinelli, Assistant Extension Educator, Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture, University of Connecticut Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab; Jean Bonhotal, Director, Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI), Department of Crop and Soil Sciences; and, Beret Halverson, State Coordinator, UVM Extension Master Gardener & Master Composter Program. Each of the above-named experts will receive a stipend for their work.
BioBags America, Inc. is also donating more than 500, Solid BioBuckets (“kitchen caddies) and 525, 25-count, 3-gallon Compostable Food Scrap Bags to project site partners.