Originally named “The Highfields Institute”, our organization was conceived in 1999 by former dairy farmer Tod Delaricheliere. After successfully composting dairy manure for four years on his family’s farm, Tod aspired to provide assistance to other local dairy farmers in composting their manure and realizing the benefits of composting.
Over the last 10 years we have continued Tod's efforts targeting dairy farmers and promoting their use of on-farm composting as a manure management practice. We conducted farm visits and surveys of local farms to assess their volumes, their interest, their needs and have provided technical assistance. We established a Compost Demonstration Site in Greensboro, Vermont and began a composting operation utilizing the ingredients commonly found on dairy farms so that farmers and government agencies could learn more about on-farm composting practices. We began conducting workshops for farmers as well as for agricultural agencies to familiarize them with the process.
As we evolved, we introduced food waste diversion into our efforts, which expanded our target audience to include fruit and vegetable growers, food waste generators, refuse haulers, Solid Waste Districts and local schools and colleges.
As the evolution continued, we began to tackle the issues of slaughter waste and mortality composting. This effort is ongoing and we expanded our workshops to include these topics.
By 2004 we had relocated our Compost Demonstration and Research site to Hardwick, Vermont and continued forging collaborations with policymakers, government agencies, farm associations and university extensions. In 2004 we assisted the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management in the development of the Montpelier Commercial Composting Program.
Since, we have worked on additional food waste composting programs, designed new programs, expanded our workshops to include soil health and other topics, and expanded our direct services program for farmers. We are focused on the expansion of our Compost Demonstration and Research Facility as an educational and research facility.
Our original vision of providing technical educational resources, on composting, to the farming community has expanded to emphasize the broader priority of promoting and advancing soil security in Vermont. Composting of manures and food scraps remain a primary vehicle for regenerating agricultural systems. Our programs and research are focused in this area.