NSR Master Composter Program
The Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Master Composter Program, provides participants with:
- An overview of the importance of and science behind composting,
- Recommended best practices for implementing community composting programs, and
- The hands-on practice essential for gaining confidence in managing the composting process.
Through a required capstone project and community service hours, the program establishes trained community leaders and networks that enable the continued sharing of composting know-how. The result is the development of new community-based composting sites and projects and an ever-growing network of community composters who are sharing their composting knowledge and advancing composting in their communities.
ILSR originally created the NSR Master Composter program with ECO City Farms as an in-person, hands-on, train-the-trainer program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made it easier for communities to replicate the NSR Master Composter Program on their own. We are also available to work directly with communities to adapt the program to fit their needs. Learn more here.
The NSR Master Composter Program cultivates experiential learning for participants with half of the course taking place in the classroom and half in the field, doing hands-on training. Our Community Composting 101 Online Certificate Course provides the foundation for the classroom portion of the program.
The course covers the following topics:
- An introduction to composting at all scales
- The composting process, beginning to end
- Compost recipe development
- Best management practices for avoiding nuisance pest and odor issues
- Building & managing a composting pile
- Monitoring compost conditions & troubleshooting
- How to test and use finished compost
- An overview of composting systems for different scales of composting
- Starting a community composting project & engaging the community
Capstone Project & Community Service
For their capstone project, participants support or initiate a community composting project based on their interests and the needs of the community they are serving. Potential projects might include building and managing compost bins at community gardens, schools, or churches, or initiating a composting education campaign within the local community.
Here are a few examples of past NSR Capstone Projects:
- The Community Compost Cooperative at Howard University
- Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School in DC
- ECO City Farms at Bladensburg
- Real Food Farm in Baltimore
For the community service component, participants commit to 30 hours spent providing hands-on composting support to a community in need.
“Master Composter” train-the-trainer programs are essential for creating an army of volunteers who understand composting and its benefits, and who will push for policies and programs to expand food scrap composting. These types of programs have been around for decades, but in 2014 when we created the NSR Master Composter Program in partnership with ECO City Farms, we saw a major gap. Many programs did not emphasize the art and science of hot composting at the community-level, which includes schools, churches, farms, and community gardens. Community leaders are needed to install and operate locally based composting sites. But to succeed, they need training, exposure to best practices and systems, and on-the-ground technical support. The NSR Master Composter program was designed to meet this need.