According to the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, “The path to the garden (or farm) of your dreams leads right through the middle of a compost pile.”
Nutritious Soil Creation, otherwise known as composting, is the basis of sustainable urban farming. Modeled after Growing Power’s successful soil creation system in Milwaukee, ECO City Farms combines different organic wastes into a proven formula that accelerates decomposition and creates fertile soil.
Our compost system has two main steps leading to certified soil amendment products. We first collect and combine the organic waste into static piles, which degrade into compost in four to eight months. We receive and process 40 tons of organic material monthly into healthy and fertile soil at our College Park composting facility–soon to be relocated in the Port Town of Bladensburg–a stone’s throw from our farm. After months of composting, we then transfer this material into one of our 16 large 4′x4′x3′ worm bins, where the worms will complete our soil processing through vermicomposting.
We accept compost drop-offs at our farm and at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market weekly. To learn what we accept please view our Compost Happens Here Fact Sheet.
We have 16 worm bins located at our Edmonston site filled with Eisenia fetida (commonly known as red wiggler worms) that thrive in decomposing matter. They are the hardest working livestock on our urban farm. Red wriggler worms consume their body-weight in organic matter every single day, and reproduce every 2 to 3 months. These precious animals produce some of the finest soil one can find: known as worm castings.
We use worm castings throughout our farm, and beyond. The castings are added to our soil to grow our produce, they can be sold as soil amendments to other growers, and they can be used to create a living organic liquid fertilizer known as compost tea. As we work to grow our wormstock, we expect to eventually be able to provide worms for home composters.
Our red wiggler worms will live in high tunnel #4, in our 16 worm bins, each filled with 4,000 pounds of worm castings. The worm bins sit below our shoot production system, where we also grow our seedlings.
We develop and utilize biochar on our farm, which is a charcoal used for agricultural purposes. It is highly valued for its ability to stabilize soil PH, lock carbon into the soil and increase water retention and benefitial microbial growth. Biochar is an ancient practice also known as Tierra Petra, which is now being re-considered for its ability for biosequestration or atmospheric carbon capture and storage. We love it for all these reasons and more including that trees, brush and pallets from our farm are turned into high value soil amendments as opposed to being hauled away.
We make compost tea from worm castings as a form of organic liquid fertilizer and pest/disease management tool. Compost steeped in water and added aeration promotes beneficial bacteria and fungial colonies which help to promote healthy (alive) soil which then in turn promotes healthy resilient plants. We choose to go beyond organic and do not spray any chemical fertilizers, use any petro-based or non-organic treatments or any herbicides, pesticides, fungicides of any kind.
Additional Resources for Composting
Books & DVDs:
Here is our guide to composting: Composting Handout from Sowing Seeds Here and Now Summit
And below are some books, DVDs, and links that are great starting points: