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Regenerative Systems Design: Compost

Drylands Agroecology Research's mission at Yellow Barn Farm is to help implement regenerative agricultural practices that regenerate the soil - our fastest and most effective way to sequester carbon and fight climate change. So how do we build healthy soil? Compost.

In April, 2021, Yellow Barn was graciously gifted 150 five-gallon buckets from Home Depot to launch our local compost initiative, picking up food scraps from neighboring households within a 15 minute radius of the farm.

We have partnered with Small Haul Boulder, a local moving company that helps us with compost pickups and produce distribution, while employing our farm workforce for supplemental income.

The food scraps are fed to our pigs, which turn them into fertilizer for our market garden, which will eventually produce crops that can then be ordered and delivered straight to your doorstep during our weekly bucket swaps.

So what was the impetus to start this initiative? Over the last year, we have been conducting a survey of 198 residents throughout Boulder County asking about their produce choices and food waste practices. And the feedback for the question, “What do you do with your food waste?” had some interesting results:

We found that the majority currently utilize a compost service, but 33% were tossing food scraps into the trash. These food scraps ultimately end up in landfills and produce methane (a greenhouse gas emission). Every year, on a global scale, around 95% compostable food still ends up in landfills, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

At the Yellow Barn Farm, we were determined to help close that gap for households outside of the Boulder County compost service area. See full results: Boulder County Produce Survey

New members receive a 5-gallon bucket, a lid, a composting guide, and a compostable bag to line the bucket.

We do pickups once a week, and our compost members are able to receive free delivery on all products we are currently producing at the Yellow Barn.

Right now we are able to offer chicken and duck eggs from our rotationally grazed birds, and microgreens (buckwheat, pea shoots, dandelion, and sunflower).

This entire compost system is what we call a closed-loop system. Finding a waste output that can be "upcycled" into something that brings value in multiple ways - creating good soil, generating a micro-revenue stream for the farm, and creating income opportunity for our farm hands. That is a win-win-win solution.

If you have been feeling overwhelmed by the climate's changing landscape, this is one small step that starts to compound quickly with each additional bucket added. Every effort to give back to the earth through strategies like this, add up to generate real, visible impact.

If you’d like to see how you’re helping to reverse climate change, come visit us at Yellow Barn Farm and explore regenerative practices in action on a large scale.

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