Compost Options

A little history: Prior to 2010, everybody fended for themselves regarding soil conditioning & composting options. I remember spending close to $40 in bagged compost & soil conditioners that year; the following year we joined the Grower’s Network with the collected donations of the gardeners. 2011, we joined again using gardener donations & raised funds from the Harvest Party.

This year we know that the Grower’s Network is only planning on using Rhode Island Resource Recovery (RIRRC) compost, which is fine (more below); what we need to decide is if we want to join it or fend for ourselves.

Here are our options for what we can do:

OPTION ONE

Join the Grower’s Network with the South Side Community Land Trust

The compost they are providing this year is organically-certified; however, it is mostly composed of leaves, grass clippings and wood chips with little in the way of nutrition. This means that:

  • The compost from RIRRC is great for conditioning the soil quality
  • The compost from RIRRC is not a nutritious compost.

The way I see it is that we have our own compost already that consists of much of these things and the RIRRC is very inexpensive, so I think we could probably agree to cooperate to get whatever we need from RIRRC on our own time schedule.

Joining the network costs the garden at least $500.

The price of the RIRRC compost is about $30/yd

OPTION TWO: An Opt-in.

Allow the gardeners to opt-in together to buy compost from Earth Care Farm, which is much more expensive but also nutritionally dense, removing the need to add continuous extra fertilizer. In this case, those that would want the compost would opt-in, therefore the price would be reflective of how many people want collective compost. For most plots, an additional $10-$20 should suffice, but it will give the individual gardener the power to choose how much or how little s/he can afford – or would like – to put into the pot.

Pricing Info

Kurt Teichert (resident since 2011, new board member) did some research for the board to help us come up with some solution to our composting issue. He writes:

Hi All,

I spoke with Mike Merner yesterday at the composting conference about prices and delivery.

Earth Care Farm compost is $54/yd and delivery is about $240 and the truck can haul a max of 20 cu yds. http://www.earthcarefarm.com/pricing.htm

My rough estimate is that this would allow for ~ 1 inch of compost for each of ~130 plots. This equates to $10 per plot for gardeners to add 1 inch of compost to a 4 x 8 plot.

I think 1 inch is the minimum that should be applied.


The Class-A compost (now also organic) from RIRRC is listed at $30/yd http://www.rirrc.org/resident/composting/residential-compost-sales/

For those of you that were with us through the 2010 season, recall that we were given the Earth Care Farm compost; Last year we were given the RIRRC compost.

So I want to open the discussion up and see if we can come up with a plan.

23 thoughts on “Compost Options

  • April 23, 2012 at 9:07 PM
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    I would like the earth compost. It may have been my lack of care, but I don’t think the garden did as well last year

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  • March 12, 2012 at 6:32 PM
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    I think Hannah’s points are important. I will go with either option. Claudia

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  • March 12, 2012 at 5:25 PM
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    I choose both! I think our garden should join the Growers Network, with a payment along their $5-$30 sliding scale that will provide for compost for those who do not opt-in for Earth Care compost.

    I believe RIRRC compost was certified for organic gardening last week. I heard that, but have not seen any official document.

    For those who choose to do Earth Care compost in addition to/or instead of RIRRC compost, I think we can work out a way to be sure to get the compost to plots equitably in a day of wheelbarrow bucket brigades.

    I think all plots should be amended with compost each year.

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    • March 12, 2012 at 9:51 PM
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      This isn’t a bad idea; if we join the grower’s network, the gardeners get to go to any SCLT workshop for free, too. It’s not just the compost. We have a couple more days to hash it out, but I think this might be a suitable option for everybody to get some compost and then we go in on it as a particular group for the Earth Care stuff.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 5:14 PM
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    I would definitely be willing to pay extra for the earth care compost.
    I’d love to find a local farm that has seasoned cow manure- I had an amazing yield when I used some in 2010. I’d be willing to go + shovel it myself if someone knows a source!

    When would the earth care compost be delivered? I’m itching to plant!

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    • March 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM
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      I’ve heard that the Providence Police Dept may be able to let go of some of their horse poop…

      Wright’s Dairy Farm offers free cow poo.

      I don’t know if horse manure needs to be seasoned, and I don’t think Wrights is at all, but I am pretty sure (please someone correct me if I’m wrong) that in the late fall, you can dig up your plot, put in the poo and then cover it up to overwinter.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 3:25 PM
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    I’m all for Earth Care compost

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  • March 12, 2012 at 3:16 PM
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    Respectfully , after reviewing the results of both, I had a much better yield with Earth Care. Also, yard waste necessitates the addition of nutrients.

    I vote for Earth Care.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 1:53 PM
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    I would be open to paying the extra for the Earth Care Farm compost.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 9:48 AM
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    I’d also be willing to pay $10 or so for the better compost. If we go with the other option, I’ll probably just get my own.
    thanks for doing the legwork on this!

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  • March 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM
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    I think that Earth Care Farm is a good option. I have used them in the past and it is well worth it despite the cost.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM
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    I vote for the RI Resource Recovery Compost for the following reasons:
    1. The very knowledgeable speaker from the seed swap uses it.
    2. It is certified organic this year.
    3. The point of compost is to add organic matter to the soil.
    4. We have our very own homemade compost to supplement this year! Woohoo!
    5. We should be supporting and commending the state’s efforts to keep yard waste out of the landfill.
    6. Johnston is much more local than Charlestown.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 8:43 AM
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    Either option is fine with me, I would be willing to pay for the Earth Care.

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  • March 12, 2012 at 8:35 AM
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    I too vote for the Earth Care compost @ $10 for an inch’s worth. Might that cost be lower, or we get more than an inch if more of us signed on?

    Ideally, I continue to wish we could manage to make all or more of our own. We seem to have such a good start on the process and many of us bring our our household scraps to contribute to the mix. But then as the summer moves on, we end up with unturned bins overflowing with garden waste! What to do?

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    • March 12, 2012 at 8:46 AM
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      Hi Martha,

      The price of $10/in per 4×8 area is already factoring a bulk price discount.

      So far our compost at the garden has been doing well; the rightmost bin is on its way to empty and we can start turning things over very soon, probably at the first workday (or whenever Hannah says). We just don’t have enough yet. Eventually, we’ll be able to supplement with our own compost more efficiently, but this year we’d be a little short if we were depending on it. It’s getting there, though!

      This coming weekend, I hope to organize a way for us to sign up for it and finalize some numbers on how to go about it.

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  • March 10, 2012 at 2:49 PM
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    I would also prefer to use compost from Earth Care. I would be willing to pay the premium for a better quality product. I share Joan’s concerns, but I think Keri proposed a good solution.

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  • March 5, 2012 at 7:02 PM
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    The Earth Farm option seems best and I would like to participate. (I am sure our own compost would not be sufficient.) My question is about the logistics of distributing from an open (?) pile of the good stuff to those who have paid for it without risk of having it disappear into the gardens of those who haven’t.

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    • March 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM
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      First thing is that we’d have a date that the delivery would be made and try to get as many people who donated to the cause to get there and distribute into their plots.

      I’m thinking of we go this route, because the garden is contributing some money to it, then we should get a count of how many people want it and we just trust our neighbors to take what they put into the pot.

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  • March 4, 2012 at 10:17 PM
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    I also agree that Earth Care Farm would be a great option and would be willing to pitch in if it means better soil. I compost at least twice a week at our garden. Ideally, our own would suffice. I wonder how our compost compares to Earth Care Farm’s compost. Is there a way to expend more effort to make it more garden-friendly?

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  • March 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM
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    I think the Earth Care compost would be most beneficial to our garden. Do we have any money raised from our annual fundraiser (or donations) to help subsidize the cost? I wold think all gardeners would be willing to pay $10 for an inch of compost, as you’d pay much more buying it by the bag.

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    • March 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM
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      The garden can subsidize part of it, mostly in the delivery and a little in the compost itself; the majority of the purchase would need to be in an opt-in basis because the difference in price is significant (but I believe it is worth it). The cost to the gardeners would be about $10 per inch per 4×8 plot.

      I agree, paying for it by the bag would be more costly for everybody, not to mention we’d have the environmental burden of the plastic.

      Good thoughts, Angel.

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      • April 23, 2012 at 9:08 PM
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        I would like the earth care. It may have been my lack of care, but I don’t think my garden did as well last year.

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