The compost demonstration are displays a few different composting methods we use at Hilltop. The large wooden structure was designed and built by a Master Composter volunteer. The structure is a bin system that can be used to layer the compostable materials in one bin and then turn it into another bin. The multiple bin system allows for different stages of composting occurring at once. One bin serves at the area where you are currently dumping fresh yard waste. One bin serves as an active composting bin that is being turned, but no fresh materials are being added and another bin that is almost finished, but needs to lay dormant before being used in the garden.
Our wooden bin structure also has a smaller kiosk area with a roof. The roof serves as a water catchment system that drains to rain barrels. These rain barrels are then used to water the compost in the summer time when they can get too dry. Compost should stay at a moisture level of a damp sponge. The kiosk area will also serve as an education station for people of all ages to learn about composting and how to apply it in their lives.
On the south side of the compost demonstration area, you will find a few black plastic bins. These bins serve as our food waste composting site.
While most people can add the food waste to their yard waste, we receive so much food waste from the Indiana University food system, that we need a more contained structure to prevent odors and rodent infestations. When composting food waste, it is important to have a proper carbon to nitrogen ratio. Food waste tends to have a higher rate of nitrogen than your yard waste. This large amount of nitrogen can cause your pile to have a strong odor. If you mix the food waste with high levels of carbon, such as leaves, wood chips, newspaper or cardboard, you can decrease the odor in your pile. It is also important to turn your pile regularly to get enough oxygen in the pile. A lack of oxygen can also make your pile smell because of the anaerobic decomposition taking place. If you are interested in learning more about composting, check out the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Program Guide to see when their next Backyard Composting or Master Composter Class will be offered.