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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

I want to start making a larger volume of organic compost and am trying to figure out some sources for the material other than that which is available from my own house.

I have access to the output of one cow's manure (which is actually quite considerable!)
I get about 30-40Lbs of coffee grounds a day


I know that there are other sources of high quality materials to be had, and I am going to examine various industries and their waste products. If you have an compost "gold mine" please feel free to share.

Hair/feathers. (I live in a very agriculturally rich area) Does anyone know what chicken/poultry farmers do with their feathers upon slaughter? Also, what about human hair? I would think that there is nothing wrong with it, or am I wrong?

Has anyone ever approached local schools (elementary, middle, high school or colleges) for their waste food? I would think this could be served to pigs at best and at worst composted. I just remember all the food left on trays that is flushed down the sewer :eek::

Coffee grounds - local office/work/stores, etc (Will McDonalds supply?)

Municipal leaf pickup. In my area, people are supplied with large paper bags (maybe 40-55 gal in size) that are filled with leaves. They are collected on a schedule. If I ask the owner of the property, would this be legitimate in taking them?

Grocery stores - many make their own fruit salads. Do they cut the fruit themselves or does it come already processed? I would think the waste would be good for compost or worm feedings.


Any other ideas as to where to find compostable materials?

What about newspaper (non colored or glossy)? I don't have access to a shredder which would be helpful, also cardboard can be used.
 

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Around here, most restaurants already have a tame pig farmer, the local primary school has worm bins, high schools are already processing their scraps - however hairdressers sound promising. I get shredded docs from businesses - they shred them, I just collect the shreddings. I also get coffee grounds from two cafes and lately I've been getting trailer loads of composted wine stems/pips from a nearby vineyard. That could be an idea if you're in wine-growing country.

Leaves sounds good and if you ask permission I can't see why there'd be a problem. It all sounds good to me. :)
 

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Has anyone ever considered contacting landscapers, lawn care companies or tree removal/trimming services? I think that they might be a source of organic matter if they do not use their product for anything.

Thoughts?
 

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Feeding table scraps to hogs is actually illegal, and for good reason. Disease easily goes from humans to pigs and back again. Be careful about what you put into your ground you don't want to be building up harmful bacterias in your soil and then your food.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Our table scraps are divided between 2 LGDs and our hogs. [feeding hogs is legal here].

For 'composting' most of what we use is woodchips.

The forests encroach onto the roads on both sides every year. So DOT crews spend all summer cutting tree branchs down, to get them off the power-lines and away from the roads. Everythign they cut must be chipped, and the woodchips are available to anyone who wants them.

We mulch around our fruit orchard using woodchips, and on our garlic beds.

We have also been using woodchips as our primary source of heat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Our table scraps are divided between 2 LGDs and our hogs. [feeding hogs is legal here].

For 'composting' most of what we use is woodchips.

The forests encroach onto the roads on both sides every year. So DOT crews spend all summer cutting tree branchs down, to get them off the power-lines and away from the roads. Everythign they cut must be chipped, and the woodchips are available to anyone who wants them.

We mulch around our fruit orchard using woodchips, and on our garlic beds.

We have also been using woodchips as our primary source of heat.
We used to get wood chips from the road workers but now all the work is contracted out and they have someone whom takes all the chips (which sucks and probably costs the state more money). Even if they are trimming right across the street from you they won't dump on your property. I hope this has or will change soon.

How do you use wood chips for heat? how do you dry them? I've thought of this before and figured it would be a great idea!
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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We used to get wood chips from the road workers but now all the work is contracted out and they have someone whom takes all the chips (which sucks and probably costs the state more money). Even if they are trimming right across the street from you they won't dump on your property. I hope this has or will change soon.

How do you use wood chips for heat? how do you dry them? I've thought of this before and figured it would be a great idea!
A half dozen dump truck loads plopped in our driveway and a month in the summer dries them out fairly well.

I pack it into 55-gallon drums, which I seal and them place upside-down on wood loading pallets. Where they will sit until I am ready to move them into the house.

I collect WVO from a local restaurant.

I transfer some chips from a drum into a 5-gallon bucket and then pour WVO over the chips. They absorb the WVO. Then I shovel them into our stove.

Stove length wood that has not been split can still be burned if I pour WVO soaked woodchips over it. :)
 

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Horse manure well-rotted and stomped into the dust in the corral is great stuff for the garden.

Rabbit manure goes on the compost pile.

Maybe a grocery store will let you have the produce thrown away for your hogs?

I learned from the produce person at a health food store, the produce display is a "lost leader" (no profit) kept by grocery stores because people expect to see food in a grocery store.

There is tonnage of produce thrown away by grocery stores.

Another idea: Ask a row-crop farmer, if you can glean his fields?
 

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if you have any commercial mushroom growers nearby, they use huge amounts of compost, which they use once and then have to get rid of....

also, rain-damaged hay might be had for cheap and alfalfa esp would be good in a compost....
and all kinds of agricultural waste should be available - things like grape pomace, almond hulls, almonds shells, apple pomace, etc etc depending on where you live...if you buy some of this stuff try not to overpay though as regular compost should run about $1 cubic ft - which is usually about 35-40 lbs, so regular compost is costing about $25-$30 per ton of material - i wouldnt pay any more per ton for agricultural waste than that...


and i read about the guy who supposedly grew the highest yielding tomato plants - he harvested kudzu from small ponds and shredded it for compost and said it was the best fertilizer he'd ever used...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
if you have any commercial mushroom growers nearby, they use huge amounts of compost, which they use once and then have to get rid of....

also, rain-damaged hay might be had for cheap and alfalfa esp would be good in a compost....
and all kinds of agricultural waste should be available - things like grape pomace, almond hulls, almonds shells, apple pomace, etc etc depending on where you live...if you buy some of this stuff try not to overpay though as regular compost should run about $1 cubic ft - which is usually about 35-40 lbs, so regular compost is costing about $25-$30 per ton of material - i wouldnt pay any more per ton for agricultural waste than that...


and i read about the guy who supposedly grew the highest yielding tomato plants - he harvested kudzu from small ponds and shredded it for compost and said it was the best fertilizer he'd ever used...
Thank you for the info! I need to read more about Kudzu, I hear it is a real nightmare in the south. Some people call it "mile a minute" vine. It looks beautiful from afar, but when you see that it smothers everything else (meaning it blocks sunlight from that which is underneath) it is a different story.

As for compost, I have a story which I think everyone here will find VERY hard to believe. I have relatives in SoCal, about 30 mins north of LA. They are looking into a very "specialized" organic compost which is called "Biodynamic" compost. This stuff sells for $1per pound! Yes, $1 per lb! It is a new catch phrase in the SoCal "green" movement which was founded by a man named Rudolph Steiner. It is basically the beginning of the organic movement and the self-sustaining farm, at least naming this practice (as I believe most of our ancestors were masters of this but didn't give it fancy "Branding" which they use to sell their products). Some of the aspects are planting in accordance of the moon and stars, and each plant has a specific time at which it should be planted, harvested and pruned. I was blown away at the dollar a pound (especially since it is often 50%+ moisture!).. Steiner also stated this, which I do believe to some extent:

Mineral manuring is a thing that must cease altogether in time, for the effect of every kind of mineral manure, after a time, is that the products grown on the fields thus treated lose their nutritive value. It is an absolutely general law
Anyway, thanks again!
 
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