Friday, April 9, 2010

Our Pilot Project Begins!

Well hello there, internet! Although it's been awhile since I published anything, a lot has been going on for us behind the scenes. Most of it has involved our having meetings, which is not really blog-worthy, meeting minutes being one of the more boring forms of documentation in existence. HOWEVER, today was a very exciting day! Allow me to present to you our VERY-FIRST-EVER pile of compost! 
Isn't it beautiful?
You see, at the important meeting I published about previously, it was decided that we should do a "Pilot Project," i.e., prove to the administration that we actually can make compost. So over the past few weeks, we have been figuring out the logistics of how, when, and where to make a windrow. Steve Husman, director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Tucson Area Agriculture Centers graciously allowed us to use the West Campus Ag Center for this project, as our windrow is small. Next, we worked with Chris Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management, to get some of our green bins out of storage. Alex and I spent some time collecting them in my friend Andrew's truck on Wednesday (THANK YOU, Andrew!), and dropped them off at the loading dock in the union. Finally, I called Tori Christie, the wonderful associate director of Dining Services, and she made sure our bins got filled with compostable food waste (no meat or dairy) from the Union. Today was finally the day to get started!

Sean (our SIFE representative), Ashton, and I met Glen Loftis, Facilities Events Services Supervisor, at the loading dock in the Union, loaded up his truck with the bins that were full of waste, and headed to the West Campus Ag Center.
Glen, Sean, and Ashton with our bins, ready to go!

At the Ag Center, we met with Ken Kriederman, Farm Supervisor Senior, who is going to be our main contact at the farm. He helped us with the next steps.
We dumped all of the food waste from the bins in Glen's truck into this! A man named Dale operated all the machinery today, but HOPEFULLY, we will get trained to use it!
This is the only picture I got of Dale.
The machine is pulled over the pile. It mixes it and sprays water onto the material as it passes over it. This time, however, we chose not to use the water as we still have ingredients to add.
Sean took some video for our entry into the Carbon14 contest (which has been postponed)!
The windrow machine is pulled by a tractor, and pulls behind it a tank of water for the sprayers to use.

Part of the pile as the machine is pulled over it. We had a LOT of lemons (from Chik-Fil-A in the Student Union), and a lot of them got tossed out of the pile by the machine! It was like lemon shrapnel.

 Blake showed up in time to help us throw lemons back on the pile!
A close-up of the mixed pile. Eventually, all of those pieces will decay and break down.

Blake, Ashton, Me, and Sean on the farm.

Lesley, Me, Blake, and Ashton standing on top of our very first pile of compost! Don't worry, we haven't mixed any manure in yet!

In the next week, we will be adding to the pile (more food and green waste, and some manure). In fact, we may decide to double its size! Today was really a great day, because after almost a year meeting in an office and speaking theoretically about compost, we finally got to go outside and start creating some! I am so proud of our progress this year.

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