A groundbreaking initiative took place at Vancouver's Discovery Middle School this last November. Clark County Green Schools partnered with science teacher, Ron Hall, and his students for a pilot project to install a first-of-its-kind food waste digester on school grounds! The digester allows the school to easily and conveniently compost all food waste from their kitchen. Diverting this material from the landfill will help protect our environment, combat climate change and provide valuable nutrients to feed back to the school's community garden.To start the pilot project, Ron worked closely with Green Schools and the cafeteria staff to set up a system to collect food waste and assist students in transporting the material to the digester daily. The digester system was installed by drilling ½ inch holes into the bottom and sides (¾ of the way up from the bottom) of ten, 32-gallon galvanized metal trash cans. The cans were then placed into two dug trenches in the ground, deep enough for all the holes to be covered. Students helped backfill and mound up the material around the cans to create a habitat for decomposers to break down the food waste. The material included leaves, spent mushroom substrate from a local mushroom grower and yard and garden waste.
Step 1: Start a Green Team! Tap into the desire to build more sustainable systems to help the earth.Step 2: Meet with your kitchen staff to learn about daily food waste in your school.
The food waste digester system is a two-step process requiring gardens or a trench system to allow for the digested food waste to cure in the soil. An added benefit is the organic material can be used in your school garden or school grounds, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizer.
If you are interested in providing on-site science and outdoor learning opportunities by setting up a food waste digester system, please contact Green Schools and let us know!
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