Saturday, November 26, 2016

Composting Meeting

From the DACA Villager:
Homestead neighbors meet to learn about Composting Bill 75-16
      On Saturday, November 12, residents of Governors Bridge Road, DACA members, and residents of arwood, about 30 people in all, met at Homestead Horticultural Supply to hear Councilman Jerry Walker, Homestead President Brian Riddle, and Justen Garrity, owner of Veteran Compost, discuss Mr. Walker’s proposed Bill to allow composting facilities in South County RA districts and to learn how a well-managed composting facility is a benefit to farmers and stable operators. Many homeowners and farmers compost horse manure and bedding, yard waste, kitchen scraps, and who knows what else, in their back yards or stable areas. Bill 75-16 would establish parameters and regulations to allow big producers of compost to accept compostable materials and sell the product to gardeners and other users of compost. See page 4 for a brief summary of the bill, and pages 5, 6,
and 7 for a summary of the County Council’s first hearing of the bill on November 7. The next hearing will be November 21.
      Veterans Compost operates two composting facilities – one comprising a three acre plot on a property of 30 acres in Virginia, and one in Harford County with a half acre on a 200 acre property, where they accept chemical-free matter that results in compost approved for Organic Farming. If Homestead Gardens should get into composting they envision no more than a three-acre plot on their 100+ acres.
      The basic recipe is horse manure, wood chips as in bedding, water, and plant waste, in the correct proportions. Most of those at the Saturday morning meeting support composting as a better use of these materials than sending them to the county landfills. They expressed their confidence in  Homestead Gardens and Veteran Compost to maintain a clean, safe operation. They were less confident about Maryland Department of the Environment’s enforcement of regulations if unscrupulous operators if the bill does not provide adequate safeguards.
      MDE has a past record of trying to help violators comply rather than punishing them, which some do not recognize as effective enforcement. Punitive measures do not solve the problem of what to do with the stuff. Mr. Garrity has forwarded a 16-page pdf of MDE’s Permitting Guidance for Maryland Composting Facilities, too long to include here. It is said that MDE has improved its administration of the regulations over the past 20 years.

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