Compost for Good kicks off USDA grant to support compost businesses development

AdkAction’s Compost for Good project is seeking businesses and individuals interested in organics recycling opportunities.

By John Culpepper, Compost for Good

If you have considered starting a business related to composting, or have an existing business that you would like to expand upon, we want to hear from you! The Compost for Good (CfG) team is seeking farmers, haulers, composters, retailers, landscapers, grocery stores, manufacturers, restaurants, etc. in St Lawrence, Franklin, Essex and Clinton Counties to discuss your organics recycling goals and dreams.  If you are a municipality or a non-profit organization interested in supporting businesses in your areas, or if you are a business who is trying to navigate the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Law, we’d love to hear from you as well.  

“AdkAction supports projects that significantly improve the social, economic and cultural lives of local residents and enhance the long term natural resources of the Park. Through this grant, the CfG team will support the development of business opportunities and economic development that will simultaneously improve the natural systems of the North Country,”   said Eric Holmlund, CfG Project Chair with AdkAction.

CfG received a grant through the USDA’s Rural Business and Development Grant (RBDG) program last fall to offer technical assistance through case studies, grant writing, business plans, regulatory assistance, site management, and intro to composting basics with the goal of increasing community resilience through job opportunities relating to organics recycling that will have lasting beneficial impacts on our communities.  

“Our region is the proud home of many small manufacturers. The opportunity that this project presents – for local manufacturers to produce composters and compost equipment – stands to not only benefit the environment but our local economy through the potential for both new and retained jobs. The North Country Chamber of Commerce is proud to assist with this project and we applaud all those involved.”

Said Joel Wood VP of Strategic Initiatives & Director of NAmTrans with the  North Country Chamber of Commerce, who also sits on the CfG Advisory Committee.  

With the launch of the 2022 Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, which obligates generators of a certain quantity of food scraps per week to divert these scraps away from landfills, CfG believes there are many entrepreneurial opportunities that can meet this growing demand. 

Kristine Ellsworth – NYS DEC Environmental Engineer, Division of Materials Management – states, “The NYS Food Donation & Food Scraps Recycling law directs excess edible food to hungry New Yorkers and additionally directs food scraps for recycling. In requiring businesses to recycle their food scraps, we anticipate seeing a spur of development in the organics recycling businesses across the State to meet this demand and with it, an increase in green job opportunities.”

While the program seeks to support all organics related businesses, the grant will pay for the local manufacture of one in-vessel drum composting unit. CfG has developed an open source design of a 20’x4’ rotating composter with four in operation currently in New York, one in New Jersey, and several in the process of being constructed around the world. Variations of the system are being operated at Little FarmHouse Flowers in Jay, NY and a similar model has been constructed and is being operated in Redford, NY. 

“We want to spur a composting equipment manufacturing revolution in the North Country” said Cofounder John Culpepper.  With help from a carefully selected advisory group, we will be contracting with a manufacturer to build a drum composter.  While the point is to create a locally built system, the selected builder will use the building process as an educational opportunity. Once completed, the advisory group will help identify a site host to receive the completed composter, who will be willing to maintain the system as an educational model open to the public. 

The CfG team welcomes any and all inquiries, including from those outside the grant geography. Contact compostforgoodteam@adkaction.org to learn more.

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