All posts by tylerw

Have an Idea for a Compost System?

compost contest

Have you ever wanted to design your own composter?

The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council is seeking designs for neighborhood-scale, in-vessel composting systems that can be used by schools and community organizations.

Successful designs will be:

• Fully-enclosed and rodent-proof
• Able to function year-round outdoors in Philadelphia’s climate
• One to three cubic yards in capacity
• Easily constructed and maintained

The winner receives a $500 prize and recognition for their design by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council!

Compost is the nutrient-rich, earthy-smelling material created by the managed decomposition of organic matter. Community composting transforms organic matter into valuable soil amendments, keeps organic waste in a local closed-loop system, and engages communities through participation and education.

Submit designs by March 15, 2017.   Finalists’ designs will be selected by March 29.  If you are a finalist, we will provide funding for you to build your design.

Finished compost systems will need to be transported to a testing site in Philadelphia by April 26.  Finalist compost systems will then be tested over the summer, and a winner will be announced in Fall 2017.

Visit for more information, including a full list of specs and requirements.

The Right Ingredients For a Chicken Compost

I love watching the steam come off his pile while he turns it…funny how he thinks it’s too hot- it isn’t.

Watching him turn the pile makes my back hurt!

Interesting observation about straw and hay being difficult for his chickens to rummage through.  I’d still take those materials over wood chips, but I’ve seen wood chips work a few times, even in videos I just previously posted.

I’m long overdue for some sawdust dumpster diving… time to make a video?  🙂

Vermont sees spike in food donations as organics ban takes effect

original article posted here:

Dive Brief:

  • Based on a new status report from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the state’s 2012 Universal Recycling Law has led to notable results on landfill diversion. Between 2014 and 2015 disposal rates were down 5% and diversion rates increased by 2%, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.
  • Food donation increased 40% between 2015 and 2016, with a significant increase in fresher items such as fruits, vegetables and frozen meat. The Fresh Rescue Program now has 40 partner sites throughout the state.
  • The state aims to boost its current diversion rate of 35% to 47% by 2022. DEC estimates that the law will have led to a 37% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by then.

Dive Insight:

Since this law took effect all Vermont municipalities and solid waste districts have adopted some form of a pay-as-you throw system. Recyclables and yard waste have been banned from landfills, the number of public recycling bins have increased and large generators have been required to divert their organic waste. By July 2020 organic waste will be banned from landfills entirely.

While some businesses and municipalities have raised concerns about the requirements, any reports of fines for noncompliance have been rare. Though once haulers are required to offer organics collection in July 2017 ahead of the 2020 landfill ban, it’s possible that new challenges could arise.

During a recent conference, an assistant waste reduction manager from one of Vermont’s solid waste districts raised the point that new education methods are needed to get residents on board with organics diversion. The process of collecting and managing organics is more complicated — and more expensive — than it is for standard recyclables. Helping people understand this may not be easy, but it will be important if Vermont hopes to achieve its diversion goals.


The first question I had when reading this was: Recyclables and yard waste were “banned” from landfills.  How about incinerators?  Or the modern P.R. B.S. term known as “waste to energy”?

Be careful in the wording… I hope organics are truly being composted and donated as opposed to dumped or burned.

Remember- “waste to energy” is not renewable… once you burn food waste, you don’t get it back.  You’re left with less organic material and more air pollution.

I would also argue that managing organics is not a more complicated or difficult process- it’s just different.

For the resident, you either learn how to compost at home (best practice), or you put it curbside in a lined toter.

For the hauler, they’re transporting the material to either a facility comprised of windrows or an indoor anaerobic facility, both of which can be managed effectively to process organic materials into fertile soil to be used locally.

Excellent news for Vermont!

Compost Scavenger


It looks like someone got curious about the pile and got digging!

It was most likely an opossum or a raccoon… they’re around, looking snacks.  Honestly, I don’t mind if they root around but in the winter it can really kill the pile’s vibe.

It was 20 degrees out today, and once the pile was opened up in the middle, all the heat escaped and killed the momentum.  My pile was 120F yesterday, and now it’s 30F.


I noticed that on Sunday it’s supposed to be in the 60’s… so all I have to do is re-load the pile with my food scraps and cover them up with a thicker layer of insulation (leaves).

By Monday, the pile should be on its way back to work.

It looks like the critter was curious about my pile of finished compost, too… notice the hole is pretty small!  Nope, nothing in there for you-just dirt.