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LRPC, WoTu Sustainability Cooperative receive $35,000 grant for Wolfeboro/Tuftonboro Area

A work group installing equipment at a compost site. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
November 26, 2020
REGION — YMCA Camps North Woods and Pleasant Valley, located on Lake Winnipesauke in Tuftonboro, are working with local partners to compost their food waste, as a way of reducing waste volumes entering our state landfills.

In 2019, the two camps started a pilot program to compost food scraps from their camp kitchen. The program was organized in collaboration with the Solar Saints Initiative of All Saints Episcopal Church in Wolfeboro, and the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC). Funding to purchase the initial composting equipment for the camps was provided by Northeast Recycling Council through a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture, and from a $750 grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund. The funds were extended significantly thanks to generous discounts on equipment purchased from Bradley's Hardware, the Composting Association of Vermont, and the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.

The purchased equipment allowed Camps North Woods and Pleasant Valley to compost over half of the kitchen food waste created from the 1,800 meals they serve daily to campers. As a result, a total of 210 gallons (1,093 pounds) of food waste was removed from the waste stream and used to make compost a valuable soil amenity. When food waste ends up in our landfills, it cannot breakdown naturally because oxygen is unable to move through the mounds of trash. This creates anerobic conditions and releases harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide and methane gas.

In February of 2020, a small conference was held at the Todaro Leadership Center to talk with neighboring summer camps about joining the movement! Fifteen staff from six area summer camps were in attendance including North Woods, Pleasant Valley, Camp Sentinel, William Lawrence Camp, Merrowvista, and Camp Belknap. From this conference, the WoTu Sustainability Cooperative was formed. The goal of the Cooperative is to create sustainable food and energy systems at our summer camps and in our surrounding communities, by partnering with local stakeholders.

This past August, the LRPC was awarded a $35,000 grant from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help the WoTu Cooperative develop pilot composting sites at Camp Sentinel and Merrowvista, in addition to expanding the North Woods and Pleasant Valley composting site, so they can start collecting food waste from the dining hall. It is expected that over 1,000 gallons of food waste will be composted from the four camps every week during the Summer. North Woods and Pleasant Valley currently share their composting equipment with the LIFE Ministries Food Pantry in Wolfeboro, during their offseason. The Cooperative is actively looking to expand and partner with more local organizations, schools, small businesses, and community gardens, who would like to share equipment with the other summer camps for composting and educational activities.

In addition to composting, the EPA grant funds will be used to develop a garden center at North Woods and Pleasant Valley. The Cooperative already organized two work weekends in October and early November, to assemble and fill 16 raised bed gardens for the 2021 growing season. The hope is to grow at least 30% of the produce needed by the camps' kitchen, while providing experiences in both gardening and food preparation to their campers. Project coordinators will be creating a hands-on program curriculum to teach campers how to grow, harvest, prepare, and compost their food. Thanks to additional grant funding from the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op, the WoTu Cooperative will be able to buy cooking supplies to teach campers how to can vegetables, grind flour, bake bread, make salsa, and much more.

The Cooperative would like to thank Spider Web Gardens for the free delivery of loam for the garden beds and for offering greenhouse space to grow Spring starter plants. We would also like to thank the Tuftonboro Agricultural Commission for donating their garden's compost tumbler to our equipment inventory. Lastly, we extend our thanks to the Wolfeboro Transfer Station, for providing composted leaf mulch, and High Meadows Horse Farm, for supplying aged horse manure, so the camps can create great compost to be used in the raised bed gardens. The generosity from all our project partners is helping to create sustainable, closed-loop systems in our community!

The EPA grant is being administered by Paige Wilson, Assistant Grant Administrator/ Solid Waste Planner, of the LRPC and grant activities are being directed by Douglas Smithwood of the Solar Saints Initiative. If you would like to learn more about our work or have an interest in becoming a project partner, please contact Paige by email; pwilson@lakesrpc.org or by phone; 279-5342.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Littleon Food Coop
Littleon Food Coop
Town of Barnsted
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