Keeping it Green
Refreshing Mountain is located in Stevens, Pa on 100 acres of beautiful woodland. We appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and the peace and tranquility that being in nature provides. We believe that it is important to take care of nature by doing what we can to save energy and reuse waste. As such, over the years, we have invested in numerous conservation projects, including solar energy, efficient lighting and heating, water reclamation, etc. Our most recent project was done in May 2019, which was the installation of a composter to recycle food waste. We installed a composter to recycle food waste from our dining hall into fertilizer for our greenhouse. This project not only helped us to manage food waste, but it also helps us to cut back on our heat bills for the greenhouse, provides fertilizer for our many plants onsite, and lowers the cost of hauling waste.
The process begins in our dining hall, where our staff separate leftovers and uneaten food, from other trash. Instead of sending the food waste to the landfill, it is taken to our 6,000 gallon composter, and mixed with other organic material, like cardboard, leaves, horse manure, grass clippings etc. There is an auger inside of the composter that slowly rotates the waste, allowing decomposition to work quickly, adding oxygen into the process. As the organic material moves thru the composter, it is converted into nutrient-rich potting soil/fertilizer. It comes out of the other end of the composter ready to use in our greenhouse and around our property in the numerous flower gardens.
The decomposition process generates a lot of heat, so we installed it in the middle of our greenhouse. During the winter months, the natural heat that is produced in the process helps us keep the plants warm and lowers the fossil fuel use that would otherwise be needed.
How We Made it Possible
The total cost of the project was about $9,000.00. We were grateful to have received a grant of about $4,500 from PA Department of Environmental Protection. And already after only 1 year in service, we estimate a savings of approx. $2,000, combined between the savings on waste hauling, heating, and fertilizer purchases. Granted, it did take a bit of a learning curve to figure out the proper balances of food waste to non-food waste, and there is an ongoing labor factor to consider, but the labor cost has been easily able to adapt into the normal operations of the greenhouse/maintenance departments, and overall, we consider this project to be a successful example of environmental and fiscal conservation.