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Cornell Cooperative Extension educates schools, businesses on composting

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CHAUMONT — In an effort to reduce waste at Lyme Central School, officials applied for, and received, a $500 grant to develop a composting program.

Teachers aide Justin P. Chirico said two 80-gallon compost tumblers were purchased, and the program should be implemented when students return from their midwinter break on Feb. 25.

“We’ve never had any sort of composting here, but we recycle here,” said Mr. Chirico, who also is Lyme Central’s assistant coordinator for the after-school program.

“What we plan on doing is using compost material to supplement soil for our raised beds we’re building in our greenhouse,” Mr. Chirico said. “It’ll help save excess garbage.”

With guidance from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, the school district will use its excess fruits, vegetables, shredded paper and coffee grounds to make the compost.

Sayre Stevens, a Cooperative Extension educator who informs schools and businesses throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties about recycling and composting, said Lyme Central was the only area school district to apply for the grant, which was funded by the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse & Recycling.

More $500 grants are available.

“Any school with a little effort can start composting,” Mr. Stevens said. “A lot of schools don’t have gardens and still compost.”

Compost, made up of one-third greens and two-thirds browns, can include fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea and eggshells, which all are considered high-nitrogen materials. That is balanced with “browns,” such as wood chips and paper egg cartons.

The Cooperative Extension office and the Development Authority of the North Country teamed up last year to try to increase recycling and composting in schools and businesses, with the idea that recycling and composting will slow the filling of DANC’s regional landfill.

The goal of the program is to get at least one school in each of three counties, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence, to have a full recycling and composting program.

Once the composting program at Lyme Central begins, Mr. Stevens will be available to teach students the basics of composting.

As part of the grant, Mr. Stevens said, the district must provide measurable results.

Because of the partnership with DANC, the district periodically will send a report to DANC recycling coordinator Jan M. Oatman that shows the volume put into compost tumblers.

For more information about the program or for Mr. Stevens’s help in applying for a school composting grant, Mr. Stevens may be reached at 788-8450, ext. 235.

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