April 22 was the first Earth Day for the farm so we wanted to mark the occasion with an appropriate activity. Jeremy from Compost Cab had been hard at work on the plans for our new composting system for some time so the kick-off for this project seemed the perfect choice for the day.
The project plan is pretty straightforward: build and manage an on-site composting system that produces fertile, nutrient-rich compost so that the farm can grow more and better food. The space at the northeast corner of the farm by our double gate is perfect to enable a simpler workflow for composting and other farm operations. The first task was to re-purpose the railroad ties and pallets that were already on site to create three holding areas (for wood chips, farm waste / leaf mulch, and finished compost), while leaving room for easy access for deliveries of all sorts. The folks from Compost Cab also carved out space for, and started building, the actual composting operation.
At full capacity, we’ll be utilizing two passively aerated windrows, one approximately 30′ long, the other 15′ long, and each around 6′ wide and 4-5′ high. We’ll be managing these to produce finished compost in approximately 18-22 weeks, depending on the weather.
Over time, the inputs for the compost will consist primarily of three things:
1. Food waste (no meat, dairy, or oil) collected by Compost Cab from in and around the city. We’re planning to source as much of this from as close to Walker Jones as possible, and obviously hope to include scraps from the school as soon as possible.
2. Leaf mulch (likely from the municipal program in DC or Takoma Park, MD) and waste material from the farm.
3. Wood chips (mostly from landscapers with whom the farm has an existing relationship).
Going forward, we’ll be needing some additional materials, including compost blankets, a compost thermometer, a sifter, etc., but we’re not quite there yet. If you know any good sources for these materials, will you let us know?