Friday, April 18, 2014

Kitchen Composting

A super simple guide to composting your kitchen scraps at home!  

Steve with a mixture of poop and compost.

Now, if you're like me and you have a tendency to throw your cooking scraps on the side of the house in a raccoon infested neighbored, then Good Luck! But if you live in a place without coons and perhaps only the occasional brave possum that enjoys knocking over your garbage can, then you should be fine!

Home Composting

A wooden-flat compost bin.

Composting is a great way to turn your kitchen and yard waste in a valuable resource for your garden, or someone else's!  First things is first; Create a compost pile in a bin, hole in the ground, or other isolated area of your yard.  To keep varmints out, place a wooden flat or tight mesh chicken wire over the hole.

If you are using a composting bin. make sure to keep the lid on tight, unless you want your compost growing legs and leaving you, only to return in the form of digested goop.

**Digging about a 2-ft deep by 4-ft wide hole for a composting area is my favorite way to do it because if you need to expand your compost bin, all you have to do is dig a little more!

I like to think of composting as making a delicious and moist layer cake. Complete with sprinkles, frosting,
and dark Belgian chocolate as a filling.  A ratio of 3-4 parts brown to one part green is needed to assemble your cake.  After you add a layer of brown, you then want to top it with a layer of green, then a layer of brown, then a layer of green, then a layer or brown... well, you get the point.

Here are some examples of green and brown goodies to fill your compost cake with:


  • Vegetable and Fruit Scraps
    An assortment of acceptable greens for your compost.
  • Grains, Pasta, Bread (without a ton of oil or butter on it)
  • Grass Clippings
  • Fresh Manure
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Hedge Trimmings and Weeds
  • Seaweed
  • Feathers
  • Plant Cuttings
  • Hair (try to avoid dyed hair)
Straw is a great material for the compost.


  • Dead Leaves
  • Hay and Straw
  • Newspaper and Cardboard
  • Woody Tree Trimming Scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Corn Cobs
  • Sawdust
  • Paper napkins and towels
Some bones are great... for dogs.

Things that you should never, ever, EVER even think about putting in your compost pile.

  • Meat (cows, fish, pigs, chickens)
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Diseased Plants
  • Oily Foods
  • Milk Products

Having your own compost is necessary for garden health and in return, your own personal health!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10 Reasons to Buy Local

Although there are limitless reasons to buy local, let's start with the top 10.  

Fredonia Farmers' Market

Photo courtesy of Thomas Annear
1. Local food tastes better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheese are hand crafted for the best flavor. Food imported from far away is older, has traveled on trucks or planes, and has sat in warehouses before it finally gets to you.  Check out some seasonal recipes here.

2. Local produce is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.

3. Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms (such as Gong Garden and Toboggan Hill Farm) , in contrast, often grow many different varieties to provide a long harvest season, in an array of colors and flavors.
A mixture of heirloom tomatoes.

4. Local food is safe. There's a unique kind of assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye at farmers market or driving by the fields where your food comes from. Local farmers aren`t anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously.

5. Local food supports local families. Wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local farmers (such as Margaret and Gary from Roo Haven Farm) who sell directly to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food, which helps farm families stay on the land.

6. Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you are engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing the farmer gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. It gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.
A couple of cheerful vendors at the Fredonia Farmers' Market

7. Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they are less likely to sell their farmland for development (or to large growers that come in and plant GMO corn). When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive to preserve our agricultural landscape.

8. Local food keeps taxes down. According to several studies, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most other kinds of development contribute less in taxes than the cost of the services they require.

9. Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms conserve fertile soil and clean water in our communities. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife.

10. Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.

Adapted from With an Ear to the Ground by Vern Grubinger, published by Northeast Region SARE, 2004.