County Compost Classes Encourage Eco-Conscious Living



As landfills continue to swell, environmentalists and researchers increasingly promote composting in an effort to reduce the growing problem of food waste. And with 25% of every landfill comprising compostable materials, professionals are asking the masses to play the role of “scientist” in their own backyards. Sarasota County reached out to Randall Penn, a waste reduction agent with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, which offers Florida residents education from agricultural science professionals, and he now hosts various environmental and educational workshops for residents throughout the county.

The course “Let’s Make Some Black Gold!” focuses on the basics of at-home composting. Penn spends the first 20 minutes discussing food waste and the economic and environmental consequences that are a result of the growing problem, followed by a hands-on segment where attendees learn how to begin the composting process for themselves. Penn gives instruction on materials to use and how to properly create and maintain a composting bin, before building a pile from scratch for attendees to see. Providing workshops that combine a classroom session and an outdoor hands-on approach is a great way to engage participants,” says Penn. “I find that the approach helps participants gain a better understanding of how to create bins and piles.” And though registration and attendance is free, for a $25 fee attendees will also be supplied with their own GEOBIN to take home and begin composting.

According to Penn, the workshops have a far larger effect than he originally ever anticipated, with the monthly composting classes sometimes having as many as 30+ attendees. Penn also receives feedback through surveys, which show a large amount of continued composting post-workshop.

Other extension classes focus on electric vehicles, solar energy, eco-friendly landscaping and more while also teaching easy and affordable ways to combat growing environmental concerns within the community.

Penn’s next “Let’s Make Some Black Gold!” workshop will be held June 26 at Shamrock Park & Nature Center in Venice. Click below for more information on the upcoming workshop, and to learn more about composting or other UF/IFAS extension classes.

Pictured: Randall Penn gives residents a hands-on lesson in composting at the "Let's Make Some Black Gold!" workshop. Photo by Katie Erenati.

Let's Make Some Black Gold!

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