Editor's Note: Jennifer Blair, titled by District 4 Commissioner Allan Bradford Dade's Tree Hugger, organized along with the library staff Dade's first formal eco event, a May 21 dinner-and-movie symposium at the Dade Public Library, on the subject of composting. Now she has more to say about composting and The Planet is delighted to publish it in these pages. Thanks, Jennifer, for helping to keep Dade green!)
First of all, allow me to begin by saying sincerely: Thank you. Thank you to everyone who showed up to our Dinner and a Movie event at the library on and to everyone who cares. Thank you to Marshana Sharp and her team at the Public Library. Thank you to Lupi’s Pizza Pies for the delicious meal and to Rising Fawn Gardens for the delicious dessert. Thank you to Commissioner Bradford and Executive Commissioner Rumley for helping to initiate this project. Thank you to Ms Eloise Gass and Tree City for so many saplings. Thank you to the anonymous donors for monetarily supporting this event. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Secondly, here’s why:
Composting is a critical solution to several problems.
In terms of economics, we pay to have garbage collected and transported to landfills. According to Commissioner Bradford, in Dade County, approximately 700 tons of waste is sent to our landfill every single month, and the cost of landfilled waste is nationally on the rise.
One reason for this increase is that the final destinations for our rubbish have a life expectancy; landfills do just that: fill up. Then more money must be spent establishing a new location for our discarded (and disregarded) junk, in addition to the aforementioned costs.
Studies such as one conducted by Emory University suggest that in Georgia nearly one third of all the stuff dumped into these facilities is biodegradable. Which means, theoretically, that if the entire county decided immediately to begin composting everything that could be composted, we would cut our landfill-bound materials and all of those associated expenses by something like 200 tons each month.
Furthermore, when items like eggshells and onion ends find their way to a landfill where they are not properly exposed to weather and soil microbes and the like, they emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to the extent that the EPA ranks landfills as the third largest methane emitter in the country.
Additionally, the nutrition in our soils is depleted. After decades of robbing it of essential nutrients, the impact is not only felt by farmers and gardeners, but on a global scale also contributes to erosion and desertification.
In other word, we are paying money to have resources removed from our land and sent to a place where they not only serve no benefit but instead inflict significant harm.
Finally, here’s how:
Now, I appreciate the value of Robin Ford Wallace’s previous publications on the topic, both in terms of education and entertainment, (We, your readership, do in fact exist, Ms. Wallace!) and I, too, am a casual composter in the sense that I adhere to no rules, save one: if it biodegrades, it goes in the bin. Whether it’s veggie ends, or coffee grounds, or citrus fruit, or oil coated, or junk mail, or animal product, or garden weeds, it gets composted.
And I do sometimes resort to the method our RFW suggests: directly on the ground (or if I’m feeling ambitious, in a little hole) with some straw scattered over the kitchen scraps, and I do recognize this approach as a perfectly functional one, practical to many “rural dwellers” such as those ‘round these parts. Feeding chickens and hogs is another.
However, some folks, for various reasons, prefer or even require a container, whether it’s because of the yard space they have available, or for the purpose of more easily relocating the resulting black gold to a raised bed, or keeping out unwanted critters, or with an eye toward the winter when breakdown slows down. Different people have different intentions and different compostable materials at hand, and therefore certain setups function better for some than others. Hence the display of options at Dinner and a Movie.
The library, for example, hosts regular events at which food is served, but tossing the leftovers out the back door simply won’t suffice. Instead, the library is now the proud owner of an enclosed, rotating compost tumbler, which can be employed regardless of whichever shoes Ms. Sharp happens to be wearing.
Personally, my household utilizes a repurposed rain barrel with holes drilled into it (such as those raffled off at the library event and inexpensively available at our local variety store).
At the beginning of this article is a photo of my compost container. Here is one of its contents with soldier fly larvae helping the biological processes along. [Ack!--the ed.]
But it matters not at all to me how composting occurs; my hope is simply that as a community we will collectively reclaim the resources of the land and put them back in the ground. Otherwise, we do disservice not only to the earth, but, of course, also to ourselves.
Lastly, if you missed Dinner and a Movie in May, you can still watch the documentary Symphony of the Soil available through the library, along with a wonderful selection of relevant reference manuals and storybooks recently added to their collection.
Whether you attended the first one or not, please join us for the next event, scheduled for August 22 at 6 p.m. More details are forthcoming…