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Get Down and Dirty with the Master Composter Program

working_compost_bins_004-1.jpgDirt, worms, microbes, Oh my!

You've probably heard of the Master Gardener program, but did you know that Bernalillo County will soon have a Master Composter program? Our region's program is now one of over 500 Master Composter training programs offered nationwide.

To learn more, we talked with John Zarola, avid composter and volunteer coordinator for the Bernalillo County Master Composter program.

Why do you compost?
I have enjoyed the benefits and satisfaction of home composting for many years. My current goal is to compost all spent organics grown on my property and as many organics as I bring into my home. I like the challenge of recycling as much as possible, then my organic contribution to the landfill is minimal. My homemade compost then improves my desert soil, which lacks organic material. These are all good things.

How did you become involved in the Master Composter program?
As a volunteer at the Open Space Visitor Center I have the luxury of a large three bin composting system. At the center we are able to keep much of the organic resources on site and combine them with manure gifted from a nearby neighbor. With a little bit of attention to the composting process we help nature produce a fine soil amendment. The site makes a fine demonstration area when we present home composting classes for the public.

Become a Master Composter!


For more information, see the Bernalillo County Extension Master Composter webpage. Note: program application forms and curriculum are not yet available online, but will be posted in the near future.
And stay tuned...Bernalillo County Open Space will be launching a Master Naturalist Program in the summer of 2010.

When I learned about the Master Composter program, active in many communities across the USA, it was a good fit for my current desire to share composting information with the interested public. I found out that other people and groups were interested in having a local program.

Who is involved in organizing this new program?
Plans for local training have evolved with the support of the Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia County Coopertive Extension Services, Albuquerque Area Master Gardeners, City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Solid Waste Divisions, NM Environment Department-Solid Waste Division, NM Recycling Coalition, NM Organics Recycling Organization and Soilutions, Inc. Soon local Pueblos will have collaborative input as well.   

Tell us more about the upcoming spring Master Composter program.
The program, administered by the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service, will begin in April of 2010. On two intensive weekends students will receive 20 hours of lecture, presentation and demonstration on composting science, materials and methods taught by local experts.

Graduates of the program will then volunteer time teaching home composting to all those who are interested at schools, community centers, clubs, civic organizations, growers' markets, demonstration sites, community gardens and many other appropriate venues. Enthusiastic composters who have the time and are ready and willing to study and share information in the community should consider participating in this program. 

Compost happens. We can help.

Thanks John for taking the time to share with us!  With the increased interest locally in backyard food production and living green, this program should be very popular.

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