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Bellarmine Uses Grant to Develop Composting Facility

Nov 17, 2010

Students Emily Burns, Loren Moody and Brian Timmons cut wood to build composting boxes on the Bellarmine Farm

Using a grant from Brightside, Bellarmine University is undertaking a project to make its campus more sustainable by reducing waste through composting and recycling rainwater.

The $1,492 NatureScape grant from Brightside, a local nonprofit affiliated with Louisville Metro Government, will create composting facilities at the Bellarmine Farm. The farm, established on campus in 2009 by Bellarmine’s Center for Regional Environmental Studies, is both a hands-on educational facility and a source of fresh produce for the University Dining Hall.

The work to create the composting facility is being performed by students in an Urban Sustainability Workshop class taught by Brian Barnes. During a recent class, students were cutting wood to build composting boxes on the Bellarmine Farm.

“The idea is that we come out here and we learn to do projects, not just read about how to do the projects,” said Barnes. “We contribute something positive to the Bellarmine community, and to sustainable agriculture. Students walk away with the skills, and they have to do it in an environment which is very rustic -- we don’t have power and they have to use hand tools and measure things right… or they have to cut it again.”

The students are already caring for worms that will be used in the vermicomposting facility, where food waste from the dining hall and yard waste from groundskeeping crews will be blended for decomposition. Once the worms do their work, the resulting product will be used to help grow fresh produce.

“Vermicompost is the best material for planting young plants, because it has about a thousand times more nitrogen than just regular compost,” said Barnes. “So it really gets new plants started and it’ll be used here in raised planting beds and in the other garden areas so we won’t have to import compost – we’ll have our own.”

Brightside created the NatureScape grants – funded by YUM! Brands and other donors – to assist groups in Louisville with beautification and community garden projects.

“This program is a great example of Brightside’s ability to empower citizens of all ages to make a difference in their neighborhoods, while leveraging private resources,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in announcing the grant earlier this month. “Projects like this will improve neighborhoods and schools throughout the community.”

Top, instructor Brian Barnes (right) helps student Sam Kemper cut wood to build a composting box. Above, students Emily Burns, Kathleen Gallagher, Amanda Schoenfelder and Madalyn Payne review instructions about constructing composting facilities.