April 22, 2018

Community composting

Green cone installed at Lefebvre Lane garden

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

When Williston Green Initiatives applied for a Community Waste Reduction grant from the Chittenden Solid Waste District, the local environmental group had only vague ideas for how to use any funding.

Community composting stood out as the main goal, but Williston Green Initiatives member Lynn Blevins said the group had to identify a neighborhood and determine the extent of any project. When the grant was approved by CSWD, Williston Green Initiatives reached out to the town through Front Porch Forum — a community e-mail newsletter. Residents at Lefebvre Lane responded, looking for suggestions on how to expand an existing community composting effort.

Members of Williston Green Initiatives visited the neighborhood’s community garden, which has two compost bins and three compost piles set up, and suggested the installation of a green cone.

“Quite a few people in the neighborhood compost their own food scraps in their own bins,” Blevins said. “But of course they’re not doing meat and dairy.”

A green cone consists of a basket that gets buried and a cone that extends above the ground. Meat, bones and dairy products can go into the cone and basket, where bacteria breaks down the waste and returns nutrients to the surrounding soil. Because the waste is stored underground, it doesn’t attract animals — a potential drawback with traditional compost piles.

“We have compost set up, but this sounded like it could add to what we have, so we thought we’d give it a shot,” said Cara Hunt, a Lefebvre Lane resident and member of the neighborhood’s community garden.

Blevins said the CSWD grant came to $117.50; Williston Green Initiatives used $72.50 of that to purchase the green cone from the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District. Members of CSWD and Green Initiatives, as well as residents of Lefebvre Lane, installed the cone last week. The rest of the grant money will fund signs and informational pamphlets explaining how the green cone works.

“We’re really curious to see how it works out,” CSWD outreach coordinator Marge Keough said. “We’re optimistic that it works out well.”

Cutting waste in Chittenden County

Keough said CSWD had $2,000 available in grant money through its Community Waste Reduction grant program. The district put out a request for proposals in December, and Williston Green Initiatives was one of six groups to respond. All six projects received at least partial funding, and five of the proposals focused on composting, Keough said.

Keough said compost makes up nearly a third of landfill waste. Green cones are one way to reduce that waste, she said, as are backyard composting bins or bringing compost to CSWD drop-off centers.

The waste district has proposed a large composting facility on Redmond Road in Williston, which would replace the facility now operating at the Intervale in Burlington.

But as Blevins said, “The most efficient thing to do is home composting.” Hence the effort by Williston Green Initiatives to encourage local composting efforts.

“The idea of community composting is a long-term interest of ours,” Blevins said. “So this is the start, I would say.”

The green cone installed on Lefebvre Lane will accept 1 to 1.5 pounds of waste per day; with existing compost bins in place, Hunt doesn’t believe the neighborhood will exceed the limit for the green cone.

CSWD and Green Initiatives want to monitor the project to determine if it’s replicable in other communities.

If successful, Keough said, the model could be adopted by neighborhoods, condo associations or community gardens.

“We’re very hopeful that it will be a great project that can be replicated,” Keough said.

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