On Monday, June 5th, ILSR and the community composting network hosted a webinar on “Successful Rat Prevention for Community-Scaled Composting.” Photo at left features a rat resistant 5-bin Compost Knox composting system at Real Food Farm, courtesy of Urban Farm Plans.
The webinar covered rat biology and behavior, and explored compost best management practices (BMPs) that help projects avoid rats. BMPs covered included: rat-resistant composting systems, proper data collection & monitoring, and considerations for feedstock storage & compost screening and curing. With a clear set of widely-accepted BMPs for small-scale sites to follow, community-based programs could be at the leading edge for expanding composting. This webinar was a step in that direction.
Caroline Bragdon, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
“The Lives and Habits of Rats”
Caroline is the Director of Neighborhood Interventions for the Pest Control Services program at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She works to develop and improve neighborhood level responses to rat infestation and is developing case studies for pest management planning at the neighborhood and building level. Caroline develops curricula and teaches urban Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for diverse audiences in New York City including building managers, custodians, gardeners, businesses and city employees. In 2012, she published an article titled “Evaluation of a Neighborhood Rat-Management Program – New York City, 2007-2009” in the Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In June of 2016 “Characteristics of the Built Environment and the Norway Rat” was published in the Journal of Environmental Health. Caroline received a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health and Social Psychology from Tufts University and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.
David Buckel, Red Hook Community Farm, Brooklyn, NY
“Managing Your Community Composting Site to Deter Rats”
David Buckel is compost site coordinator for the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Located at the Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, the compost site is the largest in the United States that processes entirely with renewable resources (solar, wind, human power) – up to 2000 volunteers a year help process over 150 tons by hand. A retired civil rights attorney, David helped develop various community compost sites in New York, with an expertise in regulatory compliance, urban farms, and configuration of operations to optimize community support/participation and environmental sustainability. With a focus on low-income communities, the Red Hook site develops new and efficient techniques for successful urban composting without expensive fossil fuel machines, creating a model for under-resourced neighborhoods to keep their organics for their own benefit, greening where they live with more healthy food, beauty, and environmental stewardship.
Using the Red Hook compost site as a platform, David developed skills training programming for teens and young adults from public housing. He has presented on the topic of community composting at local and national conferences as well as published in the compost industry’s national monthly journal.
Linda Bilsens, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Washington, DC
“Other Considerations for Optimizing the Compost Process”
Linda is the Project Manager for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Composting for Community Project and the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders (NSR) Composter Training Program. The NSR program is a replicable train-the-trainer program, designed by ILSR and ECO City Farms, to bolster community-scale composting. Her work with ILSR began in December 2013 with an initial focus on state food waste recovery policies. She then led a nationwide survey of Master Composter training programs, and has managed the NSR since it launched in 2014. Linda is currently developing a national NSR program replication toolkit and best management practices. She is a certified Compost Facility Operator for the state of Maryland, and has trained with the internationally renowned Lubkes in Austria, who specialize in a unique technique that enhances the humus content and quality of compost. Linda has a B.S. degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is an avid gardener with an interest in permaculture, environmental justice and sustainable food systems. Her backyard gardening and composting efforts were rewarded by a surprise visit from former First Lady, Michelle Obama in early 2016.
Renee Crowley, NYC Compost Project Hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center
Renee is Project Manager for the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center. In her work she is committed to reducing waste and building strong communities through composting by giving New Yorkers the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost. She holds an MS in City & Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute and a BA in Environmental & Urban Studies from Hamline University.
Guidelines & Best Management Practices:
ILSR Guide for Composting Onsite at Schools (includes compost troubleshooting section)
NSR BMPs for Community Composting (PDF) (Jan. 2017 Draft)