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BSD Composting Program

The Burlingame School District has a thriving compost program that resides at the Burlingame Intermediate School garden, that is supported through grants from the Office of Sustainability 4Rs grant program. Our compost program takes compostable inputs from the District's schoolyards such as grass clippings and leaves, garden wastes, and scraps from the school's salad bar to create rich, loamy compost using a variety of composting systems - hot pile composting, leaf mold composting, and worm composting. Each system is detailed and imaged below...

Hot PILE Composting

Our hot pile composting system is our main processor that converts grass clippings and leaves from our schoolyards, garden waste from our gardens, and a small amounts of chicken manure from our local 4-H farm into a finished rich compost product. We first build our compost piles in windrow piles, turn and water them regularly, and then store it in our 3-bin composter until finished. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to cook a pile, depending on how often it is turned (aerated). Our piles are then left to mature for another month or two before it is sifted and used in our school gardens. Click through the slides below to learn more about our hot compost system:


 

Leaf Mold Composting

Our leaf mold production is accomplished in 4'-high silos built from 1/2" galvanized wire cloth rolled into a 26" circumference tube that is then wrapped in a moisture barrier (fence cloth and/or garbage bags) to keep the moisture in the system. Leaves are either shredded or left whole and soaked overnight before being loaded into the silos. Watered frequently and with warm temperatures, a silo can be harvested in 6 to 9 months. Each silo produces about a 1/2 cubic-yard of rich leaf mold compost. Click through the slides below to learn more about our leaf mold compost system:


 

Worm Composting

'There are a variety of worm bins in use in the BIS garden, some more productive than others. We have experimented with the standard converted plastic storage tote, all the way to an expensive flow-thru commercial worm bin (the Hungry Bin). We feed the worms mainly leftover greens from the school's salad bar. We have not yet found that our worm bins are capable of processing food scraps fast enough to make a significant difference in reducing our waste stream. This is most likely due to our worm colonies never reaching their full capacity due to a variety of issues. First, our bedding was too acidic, having used peat moss as 50% of our bedding. Daily maintenance was somewhat lacking, so beds were not always at ideal moisture levels; and winter worm activity was always very slow because our bins were outside in the cold. Finally, even with a productive worm bin, the bins ability to process organic waste could not match the greater capacity of our other, more preferred composting systems. We did find, though, that sending bins home or into the classrooms with students for more personal care resulted in much stronger colonies and worm bin success. Click through the slides below to learn more about our worm compost system: