LITCHFIELD, CONN., May 10, 2021—The composting program at Forman School does more than divert kitchen waste for use as fertilizer at a local farm. In exchange for supplying the compost, Forman partners with Chanticleer Acres, a nearby provider of garden kits and compost, to educate students via tours of the farm, lectures, and pop-up tastings on campus.
Chanticleer provides CulinArt dining services at Forman with bins into which students and kitchen workers deposit compostable scraps and leftovers, then picks them up once a week after the compost has spent some time being “processed” by chickens. “The chickens are the first to receive the waste,” explains Denee Danner, dir. of dining services for CulinArt. “They help to break down and mix the nitrogen-rich green matter. Simultaneously they add their manure to the compost and get their meal in the process!”
The farm employs windrow composting, which assembles compost in long rows with periodic turning, and then sells it on the open market. Deliveries from Forman to the farm began in late April. “I estimate that we will deliver 50 to 100 pounds per week of kitchen scraps in alignment with the Waste Not program,” says Danner. “Chef Darby Fitzgerald will be providing tastings with whatever fruit or vegetable is in season, and the farm will simultaneously educate the students and provide tours when possible.”
For example, a guest speaker from the farm visited the school in late April to explain the composting process, and students got to sample “some delicious earth vegan wraps,” Danner says.
Support for the composting program at the school is widespread. “The Head of School and his wife are thrilled because they have wanted to compost at Forman for years,” Danner adds. A student who leads a school sustainability group was the catalyst for the program, approaching Danner, who will attend all group meetings, with the idea to begin composting kitchen and tray scraps. And a staff member, Max Exstein, with special needs has been designated as the lead on the composting program. “I wanted to empower Max to have his own program here,” she adds, “so he does all recycling on campus and gets compost ready for Facilities to pick up.”