On Thursday, September 23rd, 2021, members of the Headwaters Master Naturalists chapter visited Black Bear Composting facility in Crimora. Eric Walter, the owner, showed us around the property and walked us through the composting process. They obtain the compostable waste from residential houses, businesses, and even institutions such as the local Bridgewater College.
Once brought to the facility, the food and lawn waste are combined with wood chips and leaves. The compost is then placed into large compost bins with pipes running along the bottom. The pipes pump air up through the pile to keep the bacteria happy, continuing their aerobic respiration and decomposing the waste. Temperatures can get up to 140°F within the piles from the heat given off by the bacteria hard at work. After this process, the piles of compost are left to sit and finish decomposing while being moved occasionally. The compost then goes through a huge sifter machine to separate out any larger items not fully decomposed yet from the finished compost product.
This process from start to finish takes around 6 months. The end result they are left with is beautiful and ready-to-use compost great for any garden. It is amazing how our waste can be transformed into something that goes back into replenishing the earth! Visiting this facility and learning more about the process of composting reminds us all to check and sort our items before we throw them into the compost bin.
– Allison O’Brien, Cohort VII, September 2021
In the photo at the top of this post, Eric shows us his new, “more expensive than my house”, screening machine. Photo and caption credit Art Fovargue, Cohort VII.
Click on a photo below to start a slide show to see them better. Photo credits: Art (AF), Allison (AO), and Adrie Voors, Cohort II (AV).