December 2014 

Newsletter Paragon

Sustainability and The Bruderhof - By Peter Moon

O2Compost is very much a part of the Sustainability Movement - but quite honestly, I am often challenged by the word "sustainability". I hear the word used in various marketing campaigns on the radio and television, and on more than one occasion I've asked myself, "what does sustainability really mean in today's world?"

Earlier this year, I had a wonderful opportunity to see "sustainability" in action through my association with Maple Ridge, which is a Bruderhof Community in Ulster Park, New York, and specifically with one of their members, Mr. Tim Glanzer. As often happens, my clients also become my friends and we learn a lot about each other through our working relationship.

The short story is that I helped Tim set up a free-standing Aerated Static Pile (ASP) system to compost a wide variety of organic wastes that are generated within their Ulster Park property as well as from other neighboring communities. Their ASP's are roughly 500 cubic yards in volume and while the first pile was a bit too dense and wet, the second and third piles were models of composting perfection.

Maple Ridge ASP

The longer story is that Tim's primary objective in composting is to improve the soil for a vegetable garden and to improve the quantity and quality of grass and grain which is fed to the livestock.

As I came to learn, Maple Ridge raises a large percentage of the food used to sustain the community, which is also shared with neighbors and guests. The crops are raised organically - without herbicides, pesticides, petrochemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Following harvest, all fruit, vegetable and other organic by-products are composted and the compost is once again returned to the land, thereby completing the sustainability cycle.

This is a good example of how respect and cultivation of the land results in bountiful returns. It seems to me that this is the true measure of the word "sustainability".

More about the Bruderhof Communities
Bruderhof Logo

The Bruderhof Communities (German: place of brothers) are Christian religious communities with locations in New York, Florida, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in the U.S., and also in the United Kingdom, Germany, Paraguay, and Australia.

The Bruderhof's foundation is faith in Jesus, the Christ and son of God. His teachings are central to Bruderhof life - particularly the command "Love your neighbor as yourself", the Sermon on the Mount, and teachings concerning nonviolence, faithfulness in marriage, and compassion for the poor.

For more information about this wonderful community of people, visit www.bruderhof.com.

Ten Years Later

Ross Farm Museum is a "living, working farm museum depicting 100 years of agriculture in Nova Scotia." Just one of the many things to see is the horse-drawn farming equipment that demonstrate historic farming methods. Part of the museum's mission is to demonstrate sustainable, organic farming practices to children and adults alike.

Ross Farm Museum

This includes the reuse of manure that is generated by six draft horses as well as other livestock on the farm.

Barry H. (farm manager) worked with O2Compost to design and construct their 3-bay compost system back in 2004. Barry used lumber that had been milled from trees on their property that came down during a series of big storms. Even with significant temperature swings during the winter months, this system has operated continuously for 10 years. They sell approximately 350 bags of compost every year, with each bag weighing 30 pounds and costing $6.00, netting the museum over $2,000 per year. Barry calls this money "Tail-End Profits".

Visit their website for more information about Ross Farm Museum. 

Peter's Rules of Composting - A 12-Part Series

Rule 8:  Think BIG - Start Small 

O2Compost works with a wide variety of organic "wastes" in the agricultural, municipal and institutional sectors. Many of our clients envision themselves starting a composting business (see Rule 1). For this group - and in particular for those who have never been involved with composting but see it as a golden opportunity - I always recommend that they "Think Big - Start Small". By starting small, you can "test the water" and minimize your upfront investment and if for any reason it doesn't work out, no one got hurt.

Peter's Recommendations:

First, it is important to learn the basic principle of composting and to process several batches of compost using varying mix recipes (see Rule 2). 

Second, you will need to test the logistics of gathering and handling various feedstocks. If you are taking materials from other waste generators, it is important to have control over these feedstocks to avoid contaminants (non-compostable materials like plastic, metal, bailing, twine, persistent herbicides, etc.). It is also very important to have control over the volumes of material that you receive. DO NOT hang a sign on your front gate that effectively says "Come One - Come All". I did this once and it was the worst (and most expensive) business decision that I ever made. 

Third, have your product tested by a certified laboratory to understand the quality of your finished product. You will want to understand how your compost will affect plant growth and how it should be used. To this end, I recommend that you conduct some simple growth trials tos ee for yourself how it peforms.

Fourth, develop a simple marketing plan. Give some of your compost away to the bellwether members of your local garden club and get their feedback. I have found this to be the fastest way to get the marketing wheel turning. When you do this, get ready for your telephone to start ringing.

Fifth, get good legal and accounting advice and develop a business plan. Most people don't do this and ultimately experience unnecessary growing pains.

When you have done thee things, scale up slowly and in planned increments. As your volumes increase, you will get to a point where you will need larger equipment and a larger working area. It goes without saying that all of this will cost you money.

Aside: Back in the early 1990's when I first started composting on my own, I spend a lot of tie at a friend's dairy farm where I was "playing" with sloppy dairy manure mixed with horse manure and bedding. One day my wife asked me "Is this a hobby or is this a business?" To which I replied "What do you need to hear?" She then asked "Will we make any money doing this?" and I said "I think so, eventually". She said "OK, every man needs a hobby".

Previous Rules:

Rule 1 - Start With the End in Mind  (April Newsletter)
Rule 2 - To Learn to Compost, One Must Compost  (June Newsletter)
Rule 3 - Questions About Composting Have Only One Answer  (July Newsletter)
Rule 4 - Oxygen is the Secret to Composting  (August Newsletter)
Rule 5 - Water is the Highway of Life  (September Newsletter)
Rule 6 -  Composting Takes Time  (October Newsletter)
Rule 7 -  There are No Decimal Points in Composting  (November Newsletter) 

A New Compost System Comes On-Line

Storrs Newsletter

OWNER: Randall's Island Park Alliance Urban Farm 

LOCATION:  New York, New York

Composts crop residue and food waste.

The finished compost product goes back onto the vegetable beds, and serves as an educational tool to teach young students the importance of composting and how nutrients can be recycled in our food system. 

Coming Events

January 20-23, 2015
US Composting Council Conference - Austin, Texas
Peter Moon will be covering:
"The Advances in Small Scale On-Site Food Waste Composting"

For more information, visit compostingcouncil.org/compost2015/

Happy Holidays

Protecting Our Land, Air and Water Resources

Price-Moon Enterprises, Inc.
PO Box 1026
Snohomish, WA 98291

Phone:  360-568-8085
Email:   info@o2compost.com


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