vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Compost 101 wins awards

A big plastic tub with holes drilled in the side sits in my backyard, and a rustic wooden lid hiding the contents: banana peels, coffee grounds, cut grass, egg shells, past-its-prime salad leaves and veggies. It may sound strange (and it is), but this is compost, organic matter that decomposes into rich soil, great for adding to your garden. My housemates and I have been surprised at how quickly the bin has filled over the past few months, how much food we’ve kept from the trash can, and how much of the matter has already started to break down.

Over the past five years, 524 people in Stafford, Fredericksburg and other localities have learned the benefits of composting through a “Backyard Composting 101″ class, according to a press release.

Recently, the class, put on by the Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board (R-Board), was named Outstanding Environmental Education Program by the Virginia Recycling Association at its 2012 conference.

The class teaches that there are multiple benefits to composting: keeping organic material out of the landfill saves space in the landfill; the compost produces a wonderful soil amendment for landscapes; and the resulting compost retains more moisture causing less runoff and reducing the need for watering. For information about signing up for the class, call the Stafford County Extension Office at 540/658-8000 or visit

The class will be offered at 7 p.m. July 12 and in August in the Rowser Building. Call 540/658-8000 to reserve a spot. 

R-Board staff estimates that about 90 tons of organic material has been kept out of the landfill as a result of these classes. Class articipants from Stafford and Fredericksburg can also purchase an Earth Machine compost bin for $25–that’s much less than what most bins will cost you at the hardware store.

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