What if our schools, local businesses, and homes could support a composting program to fertilize our gardens allowing us to grow more food? That vision is not really radical – communities throughout Southeast Alaska (Gustavus, Southeast Island School District, Petersburg and others) are successfully supporting their communities through composting programs. Hoonah could be doing the same!
In order to design a composting system it is necessary to know how much material is being produced. We used Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) steps to implement a compost inventory in partnership with Hoonah City Schools and Icy Strait Lodge. To assist with the work, Hoonah Stewardship Council members, HIA Environmental Staff members, and teachers helped students sort and weigh their compostable waste during lunch and breakfast.
Over the course of the school year we estimate that 772 lbs of compostable waste could be used in a community composting project. Icy Strait lodge produced about 5 gallons of compostable waste daily. By estimating the of pounds per gallon to standardize the units, the school and Icy Strait Lodge would produce about 1,350 gallons over the school year.
The results of this study will help us determine what the constant load on a composter would be. Our results indicate we could continuously feed and support a medium size composter and produce good nutrient rich soil for the community. The enriched soil produced from the composter would be available for the community and used for the community gardens, personal gardens and yards, and eventually for use in the community green house. A composting program could potentially reduce the amount of waste going in to the dump by an estimated 750 pounds or more a year from the two surveyed sources.
The full report can be read below or downloaded HEREWaste-Stream-Assessment-Report-Final