Compost Your Food Waste with Whitten Family Farm

Compost Your Food Waste with Whitten Family Farm


Whitten Family Farm in Winthrop offers a food waste collection service. The food scraps are converted to compost at their farm, providing a precious resource for local growers.

“We provide buckets and bins to residents, businesses, organizations – any entity generating food scraps, collect them on a weekly basis and provide clean containers for the following week”, says Farm Owner Cherie Whitten. 

The Whitten family will be constructing a composting system that integrates vermicomposting using worms, mechanical aeration, and heat capture to make high quality compost and harness the heat and nutrients generated through the decomposition process. 

“Our compost system targets the proper recipe, carbon to nitrogen ratio, heat, moisture and aeration to stimulate the desired microbial activity resulting in thermophilic composting, which ensures that weed seeds, diseases and pathogens are mitigated as desired. During the thermophilic composting we will harvest about 70% of the “greenhouse gas” from our piles and exhaust them into a biofilter, harnessing the ammonia and carbon dioxide nutrients to grow veggies instead of allowing them to escape in the air.  The heat from the thermophilic compost bays will heat our worm beds for some real “green” energy! After four weeks of the thermophilic process, some of the cooling compost is fed to our worms who will give us Worm Castings (farmers gold).  The remainder continues to be slowly worked by insects, bacteria, and fungi for several months until we have cured compost, quality fertilizer which is much needed in our local community and currently imported by the truckload from outside the North Country”, says Cherie.

Reimagining food waste as a resource can lead to many benefits for local communities. All organic material, when buried, creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When the same organic material undergoes the composting process, it has the ability to sequester carbon in the soil, while improving soil structure (reducing run-off issues), and provides a nutrient rich amendment for plants resulting in a reduced need for imported and synthetic soil amendments. The world is currently facing a serious fertilizer crisis, making it more important to capture these locally generated, high quality nutrients.  This will help to ensure local food security.  Not only does this project have a positive environmental impact, reducing the amount of food waste in landfills, but is also a regenerative local resource business that should return a high economic multiplier to the local economy, without depleting natural resources.

The Whittens are supported by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), AdkAction, Compost for Good, the Town and Village Climate Smart Communities Taskforce, and Clarkson University.

“Managing food waste through composting  is essential for resource recovery and sustainable agriculture”, says Susan Powers, Director of Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

“Cherie Whitten’s commitment to her community is truly inspirational. With her vision, work ethic, thoughtful design and sense of personal responsibility, we have no doubt that she will be generating beautiful, high quality compost, while saving money for residents who would pay for their scraps to go to a landfill”, said Compost for Good Cofounder Jennifer Perry. 

“This isn’t just about growing local food and keeping food waste from a landfill, it’s about providing the best products for our community, keeping money in our local economy, and utilizing our resources as best as possible.  We want to form a partnership with you, a relationship, to harness this food waste energy and start a positive environmental and economic movement in our area”, says Whitten

Look for our Bucket Swap display on the front porch of the Co-op.  It is as simple as buying a bucket, separating your food scraps, putting them in the bucket, returning the bucket and repeating. Compostable matter includes all food scraps including meat, and uncoated food contact paper like muffin wrappers, napkins and coffee filters.

-Jennifer Perry, Compost for Good

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