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Composting at Blake Garden- Final Report 2013 Project Leader: Janet De Haven Project Title: Blake Garden Compost Development Area Project Sponsor: Blake Gardens Project Summary The goals of this project: •

Reduce Green Waste at Blake Garden

Recycle material on site

Build wall to be able to turn compost with the front loader

Increase efficiency of compost production

Reduce risk of repetitive stress injury

We chose an area to build a back wall in the garden that had water access for the composting process. The wall is used to push the pile up against with the front loader to turn and move the compost. Turning the pile frequently and keeping it damp accelerates the compost process. We started the project mid-December. This worked well because the ground was soft for digging out the back area and foundations. We were lucky with the weather not raining and were able to lay the base rock and start building up the wall in February. We finished the project and started using the compost area in late March. The only challenge was that we modified the design and material. Since the back wall serves as a retaining wall as well, we researched and chose an interlocking brick, Handy-Scape by McNear Brick Company, to build the support wall. The original design used concrete cinder block which would have required a poured foundation and rebar. The Handy-Scape was a good choice because it gave us the flexibility to work on the project incrementally either individually or as a team at varying times to fit in with everyone’s busy schedules. We also decided that dividing walls were not necessary. This would make it easier to maneuver the tractor. We did need to ask for a little more money since the brick material was more expensive. Since we didn’t need the dividing walls, that cost savings was redistributed for purchasing the more expensive interlocking brick material. The TGIF program was great and Katherine Walsh was a pleasure to work with. The program is organized well with clear timelines and goals. I would like to extend special thanks to staff

members Mike Frappier for his expertise in wall stone work and Dawn Kooyumjian for expertise in computer poster design and report editing. Sustainability Impact We have had a compost pile that we had to turn by hand. By using the front loader to turn the pile we save the labor hours required to turn the pile, and reduce the risk of back and shoulder injury. We also are able to keep more green waste on site and produce high-quality compost which we need for the garden. We save approximately $3000 a year in green dumpster fees. Using the front loader to turn the piles saves approximately 250+ hours in labor annually. Visibility/ Outreach Blake Garden is a research facility for the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning in the College of Environmental Design. Recently a new major has been developed called Sustainable Environmental Design. This project is a good demonstration for students and garden visitors of the principal of reuse and recycling on site. Many other colleges, high schools and elementary schools visit the garden and work with the staff here to learn about sustainable horticultural practices including composting, droughttolerant planting and mulching. The TGIF Grant for Blake Garden Compost Area was featured on our web site for all internet users to see. We worked with student interns and volunteers in all the phases of this project helping them to learn about the construction of the compost area. We explained the composting process and the benefits in recycling of green waste on site to volunteers, students and visitors. The poster from the TGIF summit will be on display in the Blake Garden greenhouse. Conclusions and next steps We are happy to be using this new compost production area. The next step that would help immensely is to apply for a grant to get a chipper. Right now, everything that is put into the compost has to be chopped by hand. We have piles of branches all around the garden waiting to be chipped. Also our tractor hasn’t been serviced for over 10 years, except for basic maintenance, like changing the oil, which a staff member and volunteer took on after reading the manual.

Budget Summary Handy-Scape Brick


Base Rock


Versa-lock Half Brick


Blue Crushed Granite








Turning compost by hand

Site Selection and Planning

Concept Sketch

Material Selection

Material Delivery

Building the Foundation

Beginning Courses of Wall

Finished Wall

Volunteer chopping material by hand

Front Loader in Action

Finished Compost

Blake Garden Final Report- 2013 TGIF Mini-Grant Project  
Blake Garden Final Report- 2013 TGIF Mini-Grant Project