Improving Composting Through Local Leaf Collection

Here’s a recipe for excellent garden mulch, enough to nourish the soil to feed a school. Start with 10-15 tons of leaves, gathered during the fall from homes and businesses in the Village of Barnesville. Add cattle and goat manure, stir the mixture, and allow the temperature within the piles to rise. Turn regularly, over several months. There, you’ve got it: mulch enough for the farm and garden at Olney Friends School.

“We’ve been wanting to expand our composting program. We tried it last year with mixed success,” said Olney Friends School farm manager Don Guindon. This year, he noted, the school took all of the leaves from the Village of Barnesville. “I’m amazed it worked. It was a total surprise to me. I don’t know a whole lot about it. The trick is keeping it turned. Keeping oxygen in [the compost piles],” he said.

Staff and students at the school harvested 13,445 pounds of produce this fall, including more than 5,000 pounds of seven different varieties of apples and more than 3,000 pounds of summer squash. The complete harvest – including 320 tons of hay; nearly 4,000 pounds of meat from beef cattle, hogs, and goats; and a rainbow of produce, from kale and Swiss chard to sweet corn, tomatoes, and peaches – helps to feed the students and staff at the school.


Taking leaves from the Village of Barnesville is just one of many ways the school contributes to the local community. “From Pumpkin Festival cleanup on Sunday night,  to cleaning up the Rails to Trails, to raking leaves at the park – some projects with Olney over the years have been marvelous,” said Village Administrator Roger Deal.

“I’m very thankful Olney had this thought and wanted to accept our leaves. Olney, of course, gets good use from them; and we’re being environmentally friendly. From our end, it saves us labor,” Deal said.

Without the arrangement, the village collection crew would unbag the leaves and dump them. Now, the school handles that part of the operation. “It’s a great partnership. It works all the way around,” he added.

Originally posted to in The Green Journal, by Kirsten Bohl, Olney Friends School, October 18, 2011.
Posted by Sharon Jaye on Sep 18, 2017 3:31 PM America/Chicago


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