Natasha Duarte

Natasha Duarte

Natasha Duarte

Speaker and Workshop Instructor | Composting Association of Vermont

Hinesburg, VT | natasha@compostingvermont.org

Natasha Duarte is the Director of the Composting Association of Vermont (CAV). She represents CAV in policy initiatives, develops and leads outreach and education initiatives, and promotes the production and use of compost as vital to soil health through practices that contribute to water quality, plant vigor, and environmental resilience. Community scale composting was the cornerstone of Natasha’s Peace Corps work in Senegal, West Africa, where she helped farmers reclaim land from termite mounds and turn the poorest areas of their fields into the most productive. She is currently contributing to a USDA Rural Utilities Services funded project – “Implementing Rural Community Composting in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.” She has been a backyard composter for over 20 years and has helped family members and friends begin composting. She has an M.S. in Soil Science from N.C. State University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Vermont.

Session Name: Rural and Urban Community Composting

Session Time: Thursday, January 30, 2:00 to 3:30 PM

Presentation Title: Community Composting: Building Resiliency in Rural and Small Town Communities

Presentation Description: Community composting presents scalable food diversion options for managing food scraps/organics within a community. The strategy builds community resilience and lets residents put sustainability into practice on a local level, by diverting food scraps from landfills and providing training in food waste composting.

Our session addresses the role that these small-scale operations can play in rural and small town communities. This includes: working to create a community of home composters and community groups to divert a significant portion of organics, as well as educating and involving their wider communities in learning about food scrap diversion, the benefits of composting, and the uses of compost.

An overview of the technical aspects to community composting will be provided, including: 1) Siting and planning small scale operations—locations include community gardens, schools, businesses, churches, food pantries, farms, recreational areas, housing developments; 2) Systems—from tumblers to worm bins; 3) Sizing operations to stay within state regulations and how this translates into site and system needs, capacity, volunteer/staff duties, etc.; 4) Sourcing the right materials; 5) Ensuring success: from site inspection to process management and maintenance.

“System Support” is vital in community composting success. Panelists will address compost team/staff recruitment, retention, duties, and training; communication (team, site, signage, etc.); identifying community or neighborhood resources, strengths, opportunities, and challenges; building community support and good neighbor practices; and fundraising.

While there are many similarities in common between urban and rural community compost sites, there are also differences. Our session will discuss specific issues, needs, benefits, and solutions for rural and small town community composting. These include identifying volunteers and resources in low population areas, overcoming lack of awareness about the importance of diverting food scraps, concerns over attracting wildlife and system options and best management practices that address and provide solutions to effectively keep wildlife out.

Co-Author: Athena Bradley, Windham Solid Waste Management District, recycle@windhamsolidwaste.org


Workshop Time: Tuesday, January 28, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Workshop Title: Community Food Scrap Composting—Path To Success

Workshop Description: This in-depth and interactive training for community food scrap composters is designed for small-scale operators and local government interested in supporting their efforts. The technical aspects of community composting to be covered include: 1) Siting and planning small scale operations—locations include community gardens, schools, businesses, churches, food pantries, farms, recreational areas, housing developments; 2) “System Support”—compost team/staff recruitment, retention, duties, and training; communication (team, site, signage); identifying community or neighborhood resources, strengths, opportunities, and challenges; building community support and good neighbor practices; and fundraising; 3) Community Scale Compost Systems—from windrows to tumblers to worm bins; 4) Sizing operations to stay within state regulations and how this translates into site and system needs, capacity, volunteer/staff duties; 5) Sourcing the right materials; and 6) Ensuring success: BMPs – from site inspection to process management. Community composting specifics for urban and rural/small town will be integrated into the discussion.