The SSC awarded the Sustainable Student Farm a grant in 2013 to build a transplant greenhouse that also housed a vermicomposting pilot porject with Dining Services.
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Vermicompost (In Progress)
The dining halls at the University residency halls produce an estimated average 14,962.5 pounds, or 7 tons, of food waste every week. To combat the amount of this food waste that goes to the landfills a pilot on-site vermi-composting project on the Sustainable Student Farm will be created. The project has the potential to turn into a campus-wide vermi-composting model.
Vermicomposting is composting using various types of worms. Organic material composted in this way is broken-down by the worms, and material composted in this way has been shown to have less contaminates and a higher saturation of nutrients than before their composting. Vermicompost contains water-soluble nutrients, which makes it a good option for use as an organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.
The aim of this project is to collect food waste from the university dining halls, decompose the food waste into organic fertilizer on the Student Farm in a self –contained vermicomposting unit, and uses the fertilizer to grow transplants for the Student Farm. The greenhouse that is planned for the vermicomposting unit would also serve as a site for the Student Farm to grow its own transplants. Such a project will both provide a greenhouse for the Student Farm to grow transplants and reduce the amount of pre-consumer food waste generated in the dining halls that normally would be put in the trash.
Student volunteers will begin the composting process by putting food waste and bulking materials into the vermi-compsting site. By monitoring the process, students will also be able to learn about vermi-composting and gain first-hand experience.
Construction of the greenhouse for vermi-composting is set to begin in May or June 2013.