Back to top Jump to featured resources
Featured Article, Event filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth

NSR Master Composter Course in Baltimore, Fall 2016!

| Written by Linda Bilsens | No Comments | Updated on Aug 30, 2016 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Application closed

The City of Baltimore is dedicated to establishing itself as a leader in sustainable local food systems by encouraging urban farming. The City already boasts 16 farms, both for- and non-profit, and has various programs in place to support local farmers. But, as is true in most old industrial cities, soil contamination is a reality that must be managed to mitigate impacts on human health. The good news is that the City is also promoting simple soil best management practices, including amending soils with compost, that can be followed to help minimize risk factors associated with lead and other common pollutants.

Among the many benefits of composting and compost use are those involving the soil. Compost has the ability to filter out 60-95% of pollutants from stormwater and can immobilize and degrade contaminants already in the soil. ILSR’s Composting for Community Initiative is proud to help support the City’s healthy food growing goals by partnering with ECO City Farms, Civic Works’ Real Food FarmUrban Farm Plans and Compost Cab to bring the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Master Composter training course to the Baltimore community this fall! Read on for more information:


Fall 2016 Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Master Composter Training Course in Baltimore:

When: 6:30 – 9pm on Wednesdays (weekly, 10/5 – 11/9); 10am-5pm on Saturdays (10/8, 10/22, 11/5)

Where: Civic Works’ Real Food Farm at 2801 St. Lo Drive, Baltimore, MD 21213

Contact: Linda Bilsens,

Application Deadline: Monday, September 19th, 2016.

To Apply: Applications are no longer being acceptedUpon review, qualified applicants* will be contacted to arrange a brief interview for the week of September 19th, 2016.

*As one goal of this program is to cultivate sustainable community-scaled composting projects, preference will be given to participants willing to support an existing composting project, and pairs of applicants from the same community – find a friend, colleague, or neighbor to take the course with you!

Cost: The fee for this course is $200. Scholarships are available to those in need. A space for requesting financial assistance is provided in the online application. A $50 rebate will be made available to non-scholarship participants that successfully complete the four course requirements listed below.


Course Description: The Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders’ Master Composter course provides an experiential learning environment for participants: half of the course takes place in the classroom and half in the field, doing hands-on training.

This course will cover the following topics:

  • Intro to Composting: Why does compost matter?

  • Hands-On Composting Practicum: How to use a rat-proof enclosed composting system
  • Compost Monitoring & Best Management Practices: Set yourself up for composting success!
  • Composting Science: The who, what and how of composting
  • Soil Science: Healthy soil is what it’s all about!
  • Testing & Using Your Compost: How to know it’s done and what to do with it when it is
  • Community Engagement and Social Justice: Using composting as a tool for community empowerment & wealth
  • Compost Site Tour
  • Compost Bin Build: Learn to build a rat-proof compost system, and some tool-use basics

  • Vermicomposting or worm composting  *this module will be taught separately, date TBD


Course Requirements: The Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders’ Master Composter course has four main requirements: attendance of all classes; implementation of a capstone project; completion of 30 hours of supported community composting service; and tracking and sharing community service hours and work completed. Participants will have six months from the last class to complete the capstone project and community service components.

For the capstone project component, participants will support or initiate a community composting project based on their interests and the needs of the community they are serving. Participants are encouraged to collaborate on supporting an existing community composting project (such as Real Food Farms, Filbert Street Garden, and other Baltimore Farm Alliance members). Other potential projects might include building and managing compost bins at community gardens, schools, churches, or compost demonstration sites. In addition, participants will provide NSR staff with brief monthly progress updates throughout the six-month, post-class period.

For the community service component, participants will be expected to log 30 hours of community composting service. Half of these hours will be spent providing hands-on composting support to a community in need.

Upon successful completion of the course requirements, participants will be eligible for receipt of a Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders’ Master Composter certificate and will be qualified to apply to the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Advanced Master Composter train-the-trainer apprenticeship.