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Composting in the Green Prairie

Posted by Brittany Grady '17, Kaiserslautern on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

In fall 2012 the University of Minnesota, Morris grounds crew, along with Troy Ostby, director of on-campus recycling, and Alicia Beattie ’13, Hastings Minnesota GreenCorps member, began a composting project that would lend a whole new meaning to the word recycle. With this year’s opening of the campus’ Green Prairie Community, the project is able to expand with the implementation of a new and sustainable waste disposal process.

With the help of Bryce Blankenfeld ’14, Goodridge, and Aaron Goemann ’14, Kiester, two senior community advisors, blue pails have been added to the kitchens in the dorm as a means of helping residents separate organic and inorganic waste. This development helps the Morris grounds crew, headed by Mick Rose, compost deposits quickly and effectively. The program originally began as a way to fix the problem of food being dumped residence hall drains, but has become an initiative that Blankenfeld and Goemann are trying to expand.

Blue pails help residents separate organic and inorganic waste.

Located behind the softball fields, the site is where organics from the Dining Hall, Turtle Mountain Cafe, and Morris Community Picnics are left to be composted. By continually mixing the waste with “greens” and “browns”—a kind of “composting recipe”— grounds crew workers create a fresh mound of dirt before the year is out. This new soil is then used for other projects. All of the 27.4 tons of waste composted last year were dumped on the Green Prairie building site during construction. It is now a source of nourishment for the plants that grow there.

“Composting is great,” says Ostby. “There is no trash to put in a landfill, so we save money on garbage that way.”

“It’s been going well, but I think we’ll probably try to gather stats and cost/benefit analyses in the future so that people can know how much we’re actually saving,” adds Blankenfeld.

Additional information about sustainability activities on campus is available online.