Challenges & Areas of Improvement
Oftentimes food scrap generators will contaminate food scraps with items that belong in the garbage such as plastic straws, wrappers and cups. A few pieces here and there are acceptable because they can be quickly removed by composters. However, heavy contamination is unacceptable and unmanageable for a composter. Both John and HCC found that training incoming students or re-training students or employees is the best strategy for mitigating this problem. Expressing to people that chickens will be eating their food scraps is an effective way to encourage them to invest time into food source separation. It is also a good idea to develop an easy-to-follow guide that can be given to incoming students, employees, or residents.
Johnson Elementary School didn’t begin composting until all students and staff were trained by HCC. Cambridge Elementary, on the other hand, started composting with minimal training and many contamination problems have arisen. HCC with the help of Green Mountain Farm to School stepped in to provide formal training for all Cambridge students in order to remedy this contamination problem.
As winter started to approach, John realized that his outdoor piles were not reaching high enough temperatures. To solve this problem, John moved all of his piles and established a multi-bin system inside his barn. He then placed his worm bin system between the piles of food scraps and compost to provide extra insulation for the worms so that they were able to continue working throughout the winter.