Compost and Sustainable Practices

Appalachian State University Compost Facility

Appalachian's landscape Services strives to use organic products, sourcing local vendors whenever possible. Our compost facility located on State Farm Road is able to turn up to 275 tons of campus food waste into organic compost which is used throughout campus and on Appalachian's Sustainable Farm in Ashe County.

Click here to view a poster detailing our composting process and benefits.

In 2015 App State saved 180 tons of food from wasting at the landfill and turned it into rich, organic compost to be used on campus flower beds. This saved space at the landfill and reduced the amount of fertilizer needed in our beds.  

In 2016 we will boost this number AND create a much better compost product thanks to REI and their generous gift of a screener to sift out "wood chunks."  

Compost Creation 

John Richards

Staff collect, mix, and cook our compost every day.

Kitchen compost

The day begins at the Cafeteria where food that can not be donated otherwise is collected:  food left over from the hot bar and scraps such as peels and rinds known as "pre-consumer food waste."  ***NEW IN 2016 THE UNIVERSITY BEGINS COLLECTING POST-CONSUMER WASTE, TOO!!

Loaded food barrels

The university collects between 20 and 50 of barrels of food a day.  The food is brought to the compost facility located directly across from the State Farm satellite parking lot.

 Food Poured into Compost Bay

Barrels are poured into the compost bay and covered with a layer with sawdust and woodchips to provide carbon to the mix.  Mixing compost is like cooking.  A 4:1 ratio of brown (sawdust/wood/leaves) to green (food scraps) is part of the recipe, along with the right amount of moisture.

Tractor mixes compost material

Using a tractor, the food and chips are mixed as evenly as possible.  
Microorganisms start to break down the solids, but in order to do this the mix of air, water, carbon (wood chips) and nitrogen (food) has to be "just right."  
Temperatures must reach 131 degrees F for 3 days, followed by 11 days of temperatures above 104 degrees.  This kills any seeds that might be lurking in the mix and prevents our compost from sprouting unwanted plants later.
After two weeks of "cooking" at high temperatures, our soon-to-be-compost is then moved to an outdoor holding station where it "cures" for 45 to 180 days.  The waiting/curing period helps stabilize long organic chains in the material and creates the most hospitable environment for beneficial microorganism to repopulate.

Before and After

 Raw foodcompost pilecompost


Want to know about our campus's committment to Zero Waste by 2022?  Click here.  It's possible!  With your help we can eliminate waste.