Tour of Black Bear Composting
Black Bear Composting is an organics recycling company that turns food waste from area schools, businesses, and other institutions into high-quality compost. The operation is located on a beautiful 47-acre farm in Augusta County. We were fortunate to get a “super deluxe VIP” tour of the facility by Eric Walter, the owner of Black Bear Composting, on October 10, 2012.
Black Bear Composting picks up food waste from a variety of operations, including area schools, universities, grocery stores, local businesses, even Shenandoah National Park. Composting food waste allows these institutions to reduce waste, save resources, and lower expenses. “Our clients are taking the densest, heaviest materials (typically food scraps) out of their waste stream and setting them aside for a direct trip to our compost windrows—less than 40 miles away from most customers. The rest of the waste takes an initial trip to a local transfer station about 18 miles away. From there the food scraps we recycled would have otherwise had an additional 70 miles to travel beyond the transfer station for final disposal,” says Walter.
UVA’s Darden School of Business has incorporated the company into their “zero waste” initiative. According to Keith Crawford, facilities manager at UVA’s Darden School of Business, ”Our pilot composting program with Black Bear Composting has enabled us to divert 50 percent of the Darden School’s waste stream while helping support sustaining business innovation within the Charlottesville area.” [Read more about Black Bear Composting's role in Darden's "zero waste" initiative on Darden's website.]
Black Bear Composting mixes wood chips and other organic materials with food waste (3:1 ratio) to create their compost, arranging it in windrows and turning it at specific intervals. After a few months, the result is a rich compost that can be added to enhance soil fertility. The company has also implemented several conservation measures to protect water quality on their operation, including drainage ditches and rain gardens. Click the photo below to view all of the photos from our tour.
This tour was one of several activities and events planned around Food Day 2012. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food created Center for Science in the Public Interest. We are celebrating the local abundance of food and community in the Shenandoah Valley throughout the month of October by highlighting and hosting a variety of events throughout the Shenandoah Valley. Learn more and share your event on the national Food Day website, the Food Day Shenandoah Valley website or the Food Day Shenandoah Valley Facebook page.
Black Bear Composting, farm tour, composting, Food Day 2012