click to return home about the MMS composting program "Garbage To Gold"
Overview of composting

Setting Up a Compost Pile

Your school can set up a compost pile. Here is what you will need.

Compost Bin -
Mansfield Middle School has a seven-compartment bin built from plastic lumber, wood and steel. Each compartment is 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet. One-quarter inch hardware cloth lines the bins to keep out mice seeking shelter. Spaces between the lumber allow for the movement of oxygen, important to an aerobic compost pile.

Benefits of composting
Glossary words

seven composting bins

Leaves and wood chips - Carbon- rich material is used to place over each food addition. This helps mask food odors and provides a balanced diet for microbes. The leaves are collected from the school grounds and the wood chips from Public Works tree trimming. Wood chips are initially placed on the bottom of the pile to provide pockets of air, necessary for aerobic decomposition.

Barrel - A labeled barrel is placed in the cafeteria. The food sort is done by each student and staff disposing of his or her lunchtime food waste. Students are asked not to add meat and dairy products in the food waste barrel since these wastes tend to smell during decomposition; hence attracting animals. If a little bit of meat and dairy ends up in the barrel it will not ruin the process.

Helpers - Someone is needed to move the food waste from the cafeteria out to the compost pile, dump it into the compost bin and bury it under a leaf/wood chip mixture. When the bin is full, the pile needs to be turned. The Middle School has an incentive program to attract students. Each time a student helps, he or she receives a ticket worth fifty cents at the school store. The ticket can also be entered into a raffle for quarterly prizes.

Links and resources
labeled barrel
pitchforks, gloves, wheelbarrow

Tools - Pitchforks, gloves, a wheelbarrow, a bucket, and a screen (to sift finished compost from wood chips that haven't decomposed and plastic) are essential to aid the work.

Schoolwide Participation
Everyone's participation is needed, on some level, for a school composting program to work. At the very least, each individual takes responsibility for his or her own food waste by sorting it from other waste and putting it into the food waste barrel. Students are needed to help with the work of managing the pile. Custodial staff is needed to help collect leaves and move wood chips. Teachers are needed to promote the concept of composting. A group of a few key people from the school, that commit to publicizing the program and address problems as they arise, is essential to the vitality of the process.


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