FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington recently received a much-needed and much-appreciated addition to their sustainability and community compost efforts.
Jeff McGown, a senior district manager with Waste Management, a global waste disposal company in Maine that helps customers manage waste in environmentally responsible and valuable ways, was instrumental in the company’s donation of a truck to the University’s Sustainable Campus Coalition organization.
McGown worked closely with Luke Kellett and Mark Pires, former and current UMF sustainability coordinators, to understand the University’s needs and its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
“We are very grateful to Mark and his student interns for their environmental leadership and the positive difference they are making at the University and to the local community,” said McGown.
The vehicle will be used to help SCC leadership and student interns resume compost operations at the “Tom Eastler Memorial Compost Site” located at the Town of Farmington Recycling Center.
“This generous donation helps put UMF’s and the Town of Farmington’s compost efforts back on track after the pandemic,” said Pires. “Waste Management’s support, along with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Town of Farmington, creates a collaborative resource for the community and also provides valuable experiential opportunities for students to pursue careers in those areas.”
The compost initiative started under Ron Slater, former manager of the Sandy River Recycling Center, and was revived in 2014 under the leadership of Tom Eastler, longtime UMF faculty member.
During its time of operation, UMF has had more than 50 students working and studying at the compost facility. Using a turned windrow system, students learn the fundamentals of the science of creating compost from organic material, using it as a soil amendment to improve production and the sustainable benefits of waste management.
UMF collects food waste from the University along with horse bedding from the Town of Farmington’s Fairgrounds and composts it to be sold at a reasonable price to the community for yard and garden use. Their goal is to reduce food residuals entering Farmington’s waste stream while creating a sustainable and valuable resource for the local community.
This year’s spring compost sale will take place on Saturday, May 22, from 9 a.m. to noon. The price is $30 for a tractor bucket, (approximately one cubic yard) or $5 per 5-gallon container.