In its first year, the Prescott Community Compost Project diverted more than 40 tons of food scraps from the landfill and distributed 5,000 pounds of nutrient-rich compost to local gardeners. In the fall of 2020, the City of Prescott was awarded a two-year grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to pilot a small-scale composting program in partnership with Prescott Farmers Market (PFM). The City was one of 11 municipalities nationwide to receive funds through the inaugural Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction grant program.
This pilot project processes residential kitchen scraps collected at Prescott Farmers Market’s Saturday farmers market and commercial kitchen food scraps from local restaurants into compost to be used in gardens and on farms throughout the Prescott area. These scraps are transported to the compost site located on Schemmer Drive. Each Sunday, a dedicated crew of 15 to 25 volunteers assist PFM staff to process the food scraps by mixing them with wood chips, leaves, straw and untreated wood shavings before shoveling it into piles. Fresh piles are covered with a thick “blanket” of wood chips or mature compost which prevents foul odor and unwanted critters from accessing the composting food within the pile.
These piles are turned by hand regularly to ensure that there is sufficient oxygen within the pile to ensure proper decomposition by the aerobic bacteria. The moisture, temperature, and odor of the piles are monitored closely, and the “recipe” of the pile is adjusted to maintain ideal conditions within the pile, and to prevent odor. After 5-6 months, the compost cures for an additional month before being sifted and distributed to community gardeners via the Compost Booth at the Prescott Farmers Market. Because this is a USDA-funded program, the compost will remain free for the duration of the grant period (through September 2022).
The Prescott-area community has shown immense support for this program by showing up every Sunday to build new piles, turn active piles, and screen finished piles. Though the NRCS funds only support this pilot program through September 2022, the City and PFM recognize the value of sustaining this project for the long term. To that end, at the 2021 PFM Farm to Table Dinner fundraiser, sponsored by the Harold James Family Trust and NFM Lending: The Riggs Team, individuals donated to the Prescott Community Compost Project, specifically to purchase a work truck to haul compost buckets and totes from local restaurants. With guidance from Lamb Chevrolet, PFM was able to purchase a used truck to meet the program needs.
This project would not be possible without the following participating businesses: The County Seat, BiGA, Nick’s Feed Your Face, MCK Woodworks, La Planchada, The Barley Hound, Mile High Tree Service, J Co. Contracting, Triple Creek Kitchen & Spirits, Prescott Coffee Roasters/Corvis Distributing.
For more information about the project or to register as a volunteer, visit https://www.prescottfarmersmarket.org/community-compost/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.