Hesston to launch composting project

by Emily Kauffman – Horizon Features Editor

As a campus community, we generate a lot of waste in the cafeteria. According to Randy Toews of campus facilities, we throw away about 55 pounds of waste per day.

That’s why the Campus Stewardship Council (CSC) wants to start composting starting with a new composting system.

Professor Marelby Mosquera believes that Hesston can reduce our food waste footprint.

“In a world struggling with population growth, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity, land degradation, climate change, and deforestation, sustainability cannot be just a word, it must be accompanied by actions, actions that can make a difference, and I think the compost project is an opportunity to do just that,” said Mosquera.

Two years ago, the CSC approached Mosquera and her Environmental Biology class about writing a proposal to CEO of the O2compost company.

In their letter to the company they expressed their desire for Hesston to become a more sustainable campus community.

To make this vision and mission a reality we consider that this compost grant would be the starting point of a bigger sustainability initiative on our campus.  It all starts here with us, with a young group of people willing to take a risk, daring to dream for a more ecologically stable future.  We just need a chance to make things happen, and we hope O2Compost can give us that chance.

With the help of students along with Russ Gaeddert, service learning coordinator and campus facilities, the compost boxes were built.

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Students and faculty carry the new compost boxes to their new locations.

The composting system works in a couple different ways. It begins with collecting food waste (nitrogen source) and paper, cardboard, wood shavings, hay, (carbon source) and then turning all these materials with a pitchfork or shovel every couple weeks and letting the bacteria do the work. Or, using the Micro-Bins provided by the O2 compost through the grant Hesston received with a simple pipe-on-grade aeration system.

The Micro-Bins were designed to be inexpensive, portable and easily expanded. The kit includes a small electric blower – normally used to blow up large inflatable toys – and a timer used in the greenhouse industry.

“The compost initiative and project would be an opportunity to close the loop or continue a cycle that nature itself has done for thousands of years, a cycle where ‘a forgotten napkin, a banana peel and industrious bacteria create a partnership that produces new, nutrient rich soil,” said Mosquera.

Mosquera hopes the college can begin using the boxes to their full capacity in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. If you’re interested in being a part of this endeavor, contact Marelby Mosquera (marelby.mosquera@hesston.edu).  

 

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