Heaps of this black gold appeared in Betts Park on Monday.
The city sifted through compost from last year’s spring cleaning, leaf collection and yard waste dumping at the city’s treatment plant.
The material is a little wetter than City Arborist and Department of Public Works Superintendent Joe Reinke would like, but it’s ready for distribution.
“There are four main ingredients: Nitrogen – from green things, grass clippings, weeds; Carbon – from woodchips and leaves; Oxygen – which we put in the pile when we put it in the turn monthly; and humidity.
Materials are collected and left alone to cook, for the most part.
“We turn them over every month”, said Reinke.
Temperatures of 150 degrees are ideal composting conditions for city windrows.
After a while, the temperature begins to drop as the oxygen runs out.
“When you can’t heat the stack, you turn it over – add oxygen – and restart the cooking process”, said Reinke.
The primary function of the city is not to make compost — “we weren’t trying to get into the compost business” – so residents may have to deal with a little extra moisture in their free compost.
Last year’s collections – what’s in this year’s compost – totaled about twice as much as last year. The city will use this year’s collections – already accumulated – for compost in 2023.
This week, the raw material was sifted using the city’s Trommel screen. It will be trucked to Betts Park and discarded.
Trucking began on Monday and the first loads of material were ready for pick-up immediately.
There are rules.
The city received a grant to purchase the Trommel screen.
Material is only available to city residents for personal use – no contractors. The city will check on the progress of the work and people loading compost are asked to have identification with them.
These residents must load the material they wish by hand. Shovels and wheelbarrows are welcome, front loaders and backhoes are not.
other than that, “I ask people to be courteous and to take their time” said Reinke. “Wait your turn.”
The city purchased the Trommel Screen with recycling grant dollars from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“We recycle everyone’s garden waste and leaves and give them back a finished product for their garden,” said Reinke.
He said the compost heaps didn’t last long last year – about a month. Those interested in carrying a load should be ready to act in the coming weeks.
Just how rich the compost is, Reinke doesn’t know. “I have never tested it” he said.
But it works. “I’ve used it in my garden and the tomatoes love it.”