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Bringing composting to the people

DateMonday, April 15, 2013 at 10:02AM

By Judy Elliott, Education and Community Empowerment Coordinator

Youth educators learning to build classroom wormbinsFor many years, Denver Urban Gardens has developed, facilitated and partnered with other individuals and agencies to provide educational programs that maximize the skills of our staff and volunteers. In addition to our Master Community Gardener Program, which provides in-depth knowledge of the many facets of community garden development, we offer the annual Master Composter Training and Outreach Program, in partnership with Denver Recycles.

For over twenty years, this train-the trainer program has attracted a diverse group of volunteers who contribute far more than their required forty hours of educational outreach. The ten-week training program provides the opportunity for volunteers to learn the basics of integrated solid waste management from the staff of Denver Recycles and gain a solid understanding of recycling, modern landfill construction and explore some of the newer uses of landfills as sources for co-generation of electricity. Guest lecturers from Metro Wastewater Reclamation District and Hudson Gardens discuss challenges in our Denver watershed that occur from excess nutrients flowing into the river, and also cover the basics of xeriscape gardening and design. An all-day field trip takes us to visit the electricity generators at a large landfill, a recycling facility and a commercial composting operation. Intensive instruction is provided in composting and vermicomposting (composting with red wiggler worms), with two full days devoted to setting up our composting demonstration site at our Gove Community Garden.

Outreach is carried out from May through the end of October at four different farmers’ markets, many community gardens, fairs, and dozens of free compost classes at Gove Community Garden. There are also many opportunities to work with youth in Denver Public Schools, helping to set up worm boxes in the fall. Teachers then utilize the worm castings as they transplant spring seedlings into the garden.

Our Master Composters stay together, developing strong friendships, continuing to bond in our series of monthly potlucks and workdays at Gove. From discarded stems, branches, overgrown veggies, landscape trimmings, pet fur and weeds, we create the rich humus that can hold 100% of its weight in water, provide a season–long release of major and minor nutrients, decrease our carbon footprint, and provide the fertile environment for growing healthy plants and people. If you’re interested in learning how to participate in the 2014 Master Composter program, believe that composting truly needs to be a household word, and live for getting your hands in the soil, please check for updated program information by the end of the third week in October. Our free two-hour public compost classes begin in May. Registration for public classes is open one month prior to your desired class. Come and learn with us! The full schedule is available here.

For further information, please contact program coordinator Judy Elliott.

Back to The Underground News: Spring 2013