Outcomes & Results
The goals of this pilot project were to:
- Divert approximately 360 pounds of food scraps per week (although this quickly increased)
- Diversify farm income directly through compost sales and indirectly by providing soil nutrition for fruit production
- Increase the farm’s compost output including the production of a high-fertility worm compost for value-added crop production
- Document the farm’s composting system to share as a replicable community scale model
All of these goals have been achieved and the project is fully operational with plans for expansion in the near future. As their next venture, The Farm Between is considering implementing a residential food scrap drop-off either at their farm or at a central location in the community. The hope is to engage residents that don’t have the capacity to compost at home, but who would like to divert food waste from the landfill.
The success of compost quality and sales as a result of this project have yet to be determined but will be assessed in the spring and summer of 2014. An estimated 12 cubic yards of compost will be created in this first year.
The Farm Between Food Scrap Collection
July 1, 2013- February 24. 2014
There are a few different processes at work in the Haydens' compost system. First, John feeds most of the food scraps to his chickens, then moves the remaining material (food scraps and chicken bedding) to his multi-bin system. Each batch heats to at least 131 degrees Fahrenheit and is turned 5 times over 15 days. The final stage of the process is to take the composted product and feed it to his worms until a nutrient-rich vermicompost is produced.
When asked what motivates him to do this work, John spoke of his interest in providing a community service that will minimize the amount of food waste headed to the landfill. Not only does the finished product fertilize his crops and fruit trees, but John benefits economically from the process of composting, as well. He earns money from hauling food scraps from local community members and he saves money on animal feed by providing these food scraps to his chickens to eat. The manure he acquires from his chickens and horses are then incorporated into his compost pile and serve as an integral part of his compost recipe. Finally, most of John’s food scraps come from within 2 miles of his house, making food scrap collection an economically viable venture.
When asked what the key to their farm's success is, John and Nancy say that by implementing a systems approach to their work and gradually increasing the scale of their operation, they have developed a solid ‘mom and pop’ business. They also expressed their desire to maintain a production scale in which they can still provide thoughtful care to the work they do at all levels.