Reduce your waste, strengthen your soil: Composting workshop set for Sunday in Wilmington

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The New Hanover County Landfill will start accepting yard waste in a pilot program meant to prevent such waste from entering the landfill. Materials received will be used to create mulch for topsoil that would then cover the landfill. Photo courtesy New Hanover County.
New Hanover County Landfill. Photo courtesy New Hanover County.

WILMINGTON – Did you know that you could pay for your college tuition by selling compost made by worms in your own backyard?

That’s according to Kat Pohlman, a member of the non-profit Coastal Composting Council and the sustainability coordinator at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

“A student who starts vermiculture composting their freshman year and does it until they graduate can sell that soil and make enough money to pay for four years of tuition at UNCW,” said Pohlman. “That’s because the price of that specialized kind of compost is so high because it’s so in demand.”

Pohlman and her fellow Coastal Composting Council members will be teaching other tips and tricks of the trade and taking questions this Sunday, Aug. 28, during their backyard-composting workshop called “From Garbage to Garden.” During the sessions, which will be offered at two different times during the day, participants will learn about three kinds of composting: static piles (layering organics), vermiculture (using worms) and hugelkutur (composting wood).

“Our goal is to promote composting education in our region,” said Pohlman. “There are so many benefits to it – it helps reduce landfill waste, reduces greenhouse gases, holds more water than our native soil so there’s less water runoff, and creates healthier soil, which creates healthier produce.”

The event will be held at the New Hanover County Landfill, off Highway 421, thanks to a partnership with the county’s environmental management department.

“We’ll hold the workshops in the shadow of the big hill,” said New Hanover County Environmental Management Director Joe Suleyman, who is also a member of the Coastal Composting Council and will be speaking during the sessions. “We want people to visually see what not diverting food and other organic waste looks like.”

While tickets to the event cost $17, kids and teachers with a valid identification card will be free.

“That’s part of our way to reach out and educate kids,” Pohlman said. “Elementary school children are required to learn about composting (as part of the curriculum), and teachers need hands-on experience to help give them a better understanding of what they’re teaching.”

All proceeds from the event will go toward putting together similar workshops and learning programs for elementary schools and low-income communities. Free raffle tickets will also be given out to those who take an exit survey (prizes include backyard composting bins), and worms will be sold for anyone looking to start vermiculture composts.

Two workshop times, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., are being offered, but the information will be the same for both sessions. They are limited to 60 participants each. Tickets are available here. Teachers can register by emailing coastalcompostingcouncil@gmail.com.

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