On Saturday, May 2 at Saxon Woods Park from 9 am to 2 pm, Westchester County is giving away compost, providing free compost advice and selling compost bins at cut rates. In June, Larchmont’s Sheldrake Environmental Center is going an extra step.
Sheldrake is offering “train-the-trainer” classes for a team of “environmental pioneers” willing to inspire others to compost and recycle through workshops, presentations and demonstrations in their communities. The trainers will instruct others in the gentle art of turning your kitchen and garden waste into “black gold.” Other topics will bring the “interns” up-to-date on recycling rules specific to Westchester County.
Jennifer Jensen, a member of the Larchmont Village Committee on the Environment and a Sheldrake volunteer, is bringing the program to Westchester. She just graduated on Wednesday, April 29 from the master composter and recycler program at the University of Rhode Island, which has a similar curriculum to the one being piloted at the Sheldrake.
This will be “the first of its kind in Westchester,” said Ms. Jensen, who is also a master gardener and one of three authors of the Gazette’s garden column. She uses compost from two backyard bins to enrich her own gardens.
Ms. Jensen explained that a compost bin not only provides free nutrients for your soil, it also keeps the waste out of the garbage can. That saves money for the community – every ton of refuse costs Mamaroneck Town $25 to haul away.
The Sheldrake “compost interns” will tour the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Yonkers to see what happens to items picked up from recycling bins every Wednesday. They will also trek to New Milford Farms, the first state-permitted composting facility in Connecticut.
Among the more exotic topics in the compost curriculum is vermicomposting – the use of worm castings to enrich the soil. If regular composting “is the Cadillac of soil nutrients, vermicompost is the Rolls Royce,” said Ms. Jensen. “Earthworm castings often contain 5 to 11 times more nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium as compost.” And for apartment dwellers willing to overcome the “ick factor,” vermicomposting can be accomplished in a small bin tucked under the kitchen sink.
Program participants will meet at the Sheldrake Environmental Center at 685 Weaver Street for four Monday night lectures and two Saturday field trips in June. Topics to be covered include; composting & recycling needs and benefits, recycling in Westchester County, backyard composting, vermicomposting, (with worms), deconstruction and engaging communities. The program will culminate with program participants running a composting or recycling event in their own community.
There is a course fee of $150 per participant, which includes the lectures, field trips and course materials. After completing the training, participants are expected to volunteer at least 35 hours in their communities.
For more information or to register for the course, call Amy Bisignani at 914-834-1443 or email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org