Composting Program Expands
A Cutter-Ziskind resident
scrapes leftovers into a composting container.
Student interest in composting
the leftover food in their dining rooms led to a successful
program in two campus kitchens last year that recently expanded
to a third.
Now, uneaten food from the Cutter-Ziskind, Chase-Duckett and
Tyler houses is taken regularly to a Westhampton farm where
it is used to fertilize crops. The farm grows hay and corn
and raises beef cattle on 200 acres.
Each month, about a ton of compost is produced per kitchen,
said Roger Guzowski,
Five College recycling manager, adding, “that is material
that does not go into the landfill.”
Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment
or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material
with a content called humus that is dark brown or black.
In the natural world, composting is what happens as leaves
pile up on the forest floor and begin to decay. Eventually,
the rotting leaves are returned to the soil, where living roots
can finish the recycling process by reclaiming the nutrients
from the decomposed leaves.
“There has been so much interest in composting on campus,” said
Guzowski. “Our plan is to expand the program at a slow
and steady pace to ensure that the compost is able to be used.”
Food waste is difficult to manage. The dense, heavy and sloppy
material needs to be hauled away frequently to mitigate any
odor or pest concerns.
The cost for a contract
vendor to come to campus just to pick up compost initially
limited the program to two kitchens, according to Guzowski.
However, by lessening the garbage pickup from houses where
composting takes place, Smith’s Facilities
Management staff was able to schedule collections of the food
waste and transport it to the local farm.
“The kitchen staff in the composting locations are very
enthusiastic about having this program,” said Ann Finley,
area manager in Dining Services. “The basic reaction
I have gotten is, this is the right thing to be doing.”