Clemson Composting at FOCI

A couple of weeks ago we had a chance to represent our creative inquiry at the FOCI (focus on creative inquiry) event in the Hendrix student center. It was a pretty cool event to be a part of. Most people aren’t even aware of where their food waste goes, so it gave us a chance to spread the word, and even recruit new students. Camille made our poster, and we all had a picture and paragraph to explain our work over this semester. I think our display was good because we had props out to engage the people who passed by, and we had a nice spot right at the entrance. I really wish this even was better advertised, I only heard of it because I was participating in it. There were very few students in the crowd, and fewer undergrads. I think if students knew this was going on they would enjoy looking at prospective CI classes to take. The people that did come to our table seem genuinely interested, they asked lots of questions and it was encouraging to see others so enthusiastic about our project. Overall it was a nice event, hopefully it will go even better next year.

-Briana Cairco

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Food Digester Animation

I found this short animation that gives a basic overview of what goes on in the digester.

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Greenhouse assembled!

The greenhouse has been assembled and is now waiting for the beds to be assembled. Once all of that is completed, the vermicomposting project will be on its way!

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The videos are in progress since the GoPro has been acquired. The samples for the cups and dehydrator project are mostly here, and the preliminary tests are being conducted.

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Clemson Sustainability in the News!

Clemson Sustainability got the privilege of being featured on WSPA Channel 7 on their Go Green segment. We were so excited to share the projects we have going on and get some recognition for the hard work put into the program. Happily enough they came to interview us during Sustainability Week, which featured waste audits, tours, and a small organizations fair for local vendors and sustainability-related clubs. We’ve included it below so everyone can see and share it. Go Clemson Composting!

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Clemson Composting Weekly Update!

This week during composting, the WSPA news crew came in to interview each of us about our composting projects with the possibility of being aired on the news this Friday. The news crew was doing an eco friendly segment featuring Clemson’s campus during sustainability week! We all basically gave them a synopsis of our projects and future plans for the project. 

 

This week we also ordered our green house for vermicomposting, Camille received sample cups concerning her project dealing with compostable dining products, and Sam announced that she would be pursuing filming her video’s with a use of go pro camera! 

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Update on Vermicomposting

Last Friday me (Briana) and Hannah visited the site and scoped out the corner where we are planning on setting up the greenhouse. 

The price went up by about $200 on the particular greenhouse we were looking at, but i found it on another site for about $100 less. I had to do some additional research after reading reviews on several greenhouses but I still think this is our best option. The two biggest problems with most of the greenhouses was the construction and the anchoring. Lots of people reported problems with their cheaper greenhouses flying away, but this particular one includes anchoring equipment, and it supposed to be easy to construct.

I also came across several greenhouses with “double walled polycarbonate” which seems to be advantageous for keeping in heat, but overall the trade-offs didn’t seem worth it. Besides, I am already concerned with the worms overheating in the summer, the double walling would increase that concern. Since our winters are relatively mild i believe the single layer wall would be best. 

The first task will be to level the ground where it will go using gravel, and we *may* want to make sort of a flooring with bricks, or concrete stepping stones, my main concern is that the legs of this bin would get wet on the concrete and eventually rot. Most of the vermibeds have metal legs, so we probably should look into that as well, but that is a little above my carpentry knowledge 

heres a picture of what im talking about 

Image

 

as far as the rest of the materials, we were planning on lining the sides of the wooden box with a tarp to waterproof it, but they recommend just using thermally treated wood (which is weatherproof and rot resistant) when constructing a classic compost bin, so that would probably be the most practical solution. As soon as we can draw a prototype hopefully we can get the supplies and begin construction.

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The Enviromentals: How to Build a Worm Composting Bin

A unique/goofy explanation of how to create and maintain a vermicomposting bin!

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Vermicomposting Update!

This week was our last class meeting before presenting our projects. Hannah, Briana, Megan and myself (Erika) just met to finalize certain aspects of our project concerning vermicomposting. We put all of our information into one power point. We plan on meeting one more time before our final presentation.

 

While researching vermicomposting, Hannah and I found a unique video that explains how to create and maintain a vermicomposting bin in your home or apartment. I’m sharing this video in case anyone is interested!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFwqhMW6rR0

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Tuesday we talked about the actual size of the operation we were looking at, we got some numbers so we should be able to tackle the project with a little more information on what we are dealing with now. Clemson gets about 36,000 llbs per month of food waste,  so our idea would be to use 3 different methods to tackle all of the waste,  our standard pile of compost method, the vermicompost beds, and *possibly* the dehydrating/composting thing from IWS that we are currently testing out at Clemson house.  The dehydrator may take some stress off of the in-vessel unit, but because it only deals with food waste, the salt content of the products is extremely high and makes the compost practically unusable.  Unless the material was heavily diluted and allowed to further decompose with organic material like cuttings and wood, the product would be worthless.  Though vermicomposting is slow, it is faster than traditional composting, and the products are much more valuable. I think it would be worthwhile. I actually read a research paper on vermicomposting vs. traditional composting, and the results were pretty impressive. I would skim over it just to get the gist, it was pretty interesting.

here is the link:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10889860802690513#.Uo44LsSkp8F

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Composting in a greenhouse?

So i was having trouble logging in when i was supposed to do an entry earlier, but better late than never!

A couple weeks ago i was looking for ways to (efficently) keep worms alive and active during winter, i came across this article about one lady’s method for vermicomposting. I would definitely recommend reading/ skimming/ or even just looking at the pictures in this article. I love that this method could be kept at a relatively small scale, or expanded to a larger scale operation. I found this article before we went to the airport for the tour, but looking at both systems gives a good perspective on how we could use methods from each system to make our own. 

When we toured, the lady at the airport (whose name i forgot…)  asked if we had an empty building that we could keep the vermicomposting bins in, unfortunately we don’t have empty heated buildings to keep dirt and worms in at our disposal,  BUT what if we made a greenhouse to keep them in? That’s where the article comes in, they put their worms in a greenhouse to keep then warm in the winter, however they keep their compost below ground in concrete lined boxes to ensure the worms don’t over heat. These boxes are have lids divided in two 4 foot panels, They harvest the compost by luring the worms to the opposite side of the box with fresh food, once the worms migrate to the fresher side they collect the abandoned nutrient-rich castings. 

The harvesting at the airport seems much simpler and less tedious, im still trying to wrap my head around a way that would encompass the best of both worlds. The greenhouse is ideal because it uses passive energy in the winter and wouldn’t cost too much for upkeep. Perhaps a greenhouse with removable panels

Something to ponder.

im a very hands on, DIY sort of person, so the thought of buying bins like we saw at the airport, or buying a greenhouse makes me cringe, i think it would be fairly simple to construct our own system, first as a small scale prototype then maybe expanding if we succeed. 

-Briana Cairco

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