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MAYTime Composting News

January, 2014

Composting Food Waste in America - A Puzzle

A recent survey found that:

72% of Americans do not compost their food waste.

67% of those who don’t,  WOULD COMPOST if it were more convenient to do so.

62% of Americans would not support any increase in the cost of waste disposal to have their food waste composted.

MAYTime’s Response to the Puzzle:

Announcing the Celo Area Compost Association.

Now you can have your household food waste composted by MAYTime.

It’s convenient – it’s the right thing to do – and IT’S FREE.

More Information Here

Community Composting, Part III - The Economics of Worm Composting

In my last newsletter, I wrote briefly about the economics of traditional composting., and reviewed the reasons that compost is relatively expensive in Yancey and Mitchell counties.

One minor correction from that article: I mentioned that Brooks Contractor (Goldston, NC) gets paid $24 / ton for food waste it collects. More accurately, it charges you $24 per ton if YOU deliver it to them. If they pick it up, they charge about $85 a ton. These fees (called “tipping fees”) make up a very important part of the revenue stream for a traditional compost operation.

MAYTime was created around the idea that vermicomposting can be economically viable on a much smaller scale. Why is this? Worm castings (the end product of worm composting) sell for about $.50 per pound, wholesale (and as much as $3 retail). That equates to about $400-500 per cubic yard; “normal” compost wholesales for $10-25 per yard in areas where it is produced in large quantities.

So why would anyone pay that kind of price for Worm Castings? You could view Worm Castings as a highly concentrated form of compost. Normal compost is applied in volumes about 20 times what you would use Worm Castings. The United States Composting Council recommends using about 2 inches of compost per year on a garden bed. Worm Castings? 1/8 of an inch.  

So instead of needing to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of compost, a Worm Casting operation can be viable if it produces perhaps 100,000 pounds (not tons) of castings in a year. This kind of volume does NOT require $millions in capital investment. MAYTime is set up to produce at least that much each year.

I owe a large debt of thanks to Robert Branch at the Small Business Center of Mayland Community College for working with me a couple years ago to put together the business plan and financial analysis that showed how this could work here.

Next month, we will explore in more detail why Worm Castings are so effective in small quantities, why traditional compost is still a useful and viable product, and when to use both.

MAYTime Installs Solar Heat System

With the recent bitter cold, I decided I should investigate alternative energy sources for MAYTime. I found a drop-dead simple solar collector design on the Web, and built a prototype for around $70 in materials.

Here’s the collector mounted on the outside of MAYTime’s office. It is a simple plywood box, painted black inside, with two layers of dark-colored aluminum window screen inside, which air must pass through a couple times. The face is made a clear polycarbonate roofing panel.

Worm Compost Solar Heat

This next picture shows the intake and output vents inside. The result on a cold, hazy, partly cloudy morning (10 degrees outside): Air near the floor is entering the box at about 40 degrees, and coming out the upper vent at over 80. And on a hazy day!

worm compost solar heat

I plan to install several more of these, and to create a solar system to heat the worm beds in the next year.


A Memory Trick: Ever Forget Where You Put Something?

I often set something down – a tool, my eyeglasses, whatever – and then when I need it a few minutes later, I can’t find it. I used to get frustrated and angry, and sometimes would not find that needed object for days.

I am not sure how I stumbled on this technique, but I found a way to find the “misplaced” item – quickly – ALMOST 100% OF THE TIME.

I say out loud, “I’m looking for my metal ruler (or whatever)”, and then start walking around.  I almost always find it within a minute or less, often within seconds. Sometimes an image comes into my mind immediately, sometimes I just wander around  - and usually walk right to whatever it is I’m looking for.

This does NOT work for me if I just THINK the words – I have to say them OUT LOUD*.

Try this and see if it works for you! I’d love to hear your feedback.

P.S. – I always say “thank you!” when I find what I’m looking for. Whether it is the “other side of my brain” or a “guardian angel”, I’m grateful!

* Why does it have to be out loud? I’ve described this process to several friends, and one came up with the best explanation I’ve heard so far.  According to this friend, testosterone (in male infants) inhibits growth of, or even destroys part of, the corpus callosum – the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres (and facilitates communication between them). One hemisphere, of course, is known for verbal, “rational thought”, as in: “I need my 12-inch metal ruler so I can measure this part”. The other hemisphere operates with images and spatial perception such as “image of a long, metallic object with markings THERE”. Speaking the thought out loud creates a communication between hemispheres, and the “spatial, non-verbal, image-storing ” hemisphere is activated, and responds. If the “testosterone” part of this theory is correct, this type of memory problem might be less common in females. Let me know!



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