As we reflect on milestones (cinder blocks?) of 2017 for recycling organic waste at Baldwin Wallace University (BW), this is a great time of year to reflect. We cleared 59,000 pounds or 55 cubic yards of organic waste recycled. Whether it is about the 39,726 pounds or nearly 29 cubic yards of compost (that broken down from the raw waste weight of 59,000 pounds) directly used to benefit education or the 204 cinder blocks removed to shape a new 35-foot by 35-foot growing area raised bed, truly the use of organic waste for higher education has inspired my team at BW.
We started this year with a phone call from Greenhouse Tavern, Ohio's first Green Restaurant-certified restaurant, who needed our services to retain their certification. Then came Emerson Electric looking for ways to donate equipment for anaerobic digestion, teaching engineering students how organic waste can produce renewable energy.
In February, Professor Paul constructed a 4th new composting bin to accommodate one cubic yard of material every quarter and our campus neighbors enjoyed our year-round presence at the garden. In March our donated compost value approached $2,000 since last November. While the airport and our team have created the country's first sustainable organic waste system for education and any U.S. airport (and possibly one of the first in the world). Nestle Skyped a conference call and interest in health food ingredients and education.
In April, BW Building & Grounds (BW B&G) is ready to donate thousands of tomato plants they grow every year under the stadium. Art, BW B&G crew member (who shared that BW ranked 15 of 300 universities like it around the country for landscaping and has been tending campus landscaping for 35 years), spent his spare time and gas to rototill the garden. In May, we finished raising the entire hoop-house floor, prior there had been sunken walkways, which used to cause ankle twisting and took seven wheelbarrows of compost (1,225 pounds) to finish.
We also saw teamwork at the airport dock with help from Angelo, a 24-year truck driver for Anheuser-Busch, helped load coffee ground buckets. Recycling all the airport's coffee vendors, Chick-fil-A (spent lemons for their lemonade), and others have created a whole new system of recycling at the airport, thanks to the hard work of our value chain throughout the entire airport staff. A bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and clearing 30,000 pounds of recycled organic waste for the airport marked the end of September (by the end of the year airport recycling reached 45,000 pounds or 40 cubic yards of coffee grounds and spent lemons, not to mention thousands of trash bags saved). October was the month we finished adding our fourth new row 35-feet long by four feet wide and two feet deep. Each of these new raised bed rows took 5,150 pounds or 25 wheelbarrows or 3.5 compost bins. In other words, 20,600 pounds of finished compost or 100 wheelbarrows added a total growing capacity of 560 square feet.
Large scale soil projects continued into November, when we finished composting the entire hoop-house, which began June 15. As a result, the material saved BW $700 in compost product and the salary of a full time staff for six months, but other projects throughout the year have contributed $15,000 of compost product and salary of a full time staff, funded through customer service monthly invoices.
And entering the month of giving, December, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company donated $200 worth of seed comprised of 21 species of unique crop foods. Each have their own health benefits, provide unique learning opportunities on how to grow them, and the exciting part to provide students with healthy food beyond just lettuce. We also noted a trend in consumer behavior: Why do airport travelers in December order more lemonade? Students learned that we can measure a lot about consumer demand through waste, but we still do not know why more lemonade is ordered during the Christmas season among airport travelers.
Aspirations for 2018? Passing the torch of running Groundz recycling to benefit BW curriculum for newly paid internships in the area of sustainable agriculture, community health, and entrepreneurship. And what to do with 204 cinder blocks, when Farmer Jackets first began in 2011, the garden was founded on 600 cinder blocks. As students learn how to grow more local food on campus, they have seen that compost is a good start - adding both soil fertility and more growing area - can lead to harvesting more food for causes like lower income students, area hospitals, local food banks, or a campus farmers market. All of these initiatives would be great for students and faculty to pursue in 2018.
Thank you to my BW campus team, customers who believe in our work, and supporters who made our year significant.