In the fall of 2013, the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation reached out to The Farmstead through a partnership with Anoka County to identify opportunities to reduce waste and recycle more. Having received an award from Anoka County in 2012 recognizing the organization’s recycling programs, The Farmstead was eager to work with Waste Wise and find ways to further its sustainability efforts.
The Farmstead is a Presbyterian Homes and Services senior living community located in Andover, and provides an array of living options, services and activities for residents. Waste Wise completed an onsite consultation with the Campus Administrator, Susan Minar, to gain a better understanding of The Farmstead’s daily operations and waste collection programs. Through this initial meeting and additional guidance from Waste Wise, The Farmstead determined an organics recycling program had potential to significantly reduce the community’s waste stream. With a full-service kitchen and dining room on campus, Minar was specifically interested in exploring a commercial composting program, which would allow the campus to recycle food scraps and other compostable materials, such as napkins, placements and coffee cups.
To help The Farmstead move forward, Waste Wise coordinated a meeting with Sanimax, a commercial composting hauler, to review service options and pricing. In January 2014, The Farmstead implemented a pilot organics recycling program with Sanimax, and by February the program was in full swing with twelve 13-gallon carts filled with organic material from the kitchen being collected twice per week. Theresa Arendsee, Director of Nutrition and Culinary Services explains, “It took a couple weeks to get our staff trained, but now separating organics is second nature. We were taking out the garbage bags from the kitchen three to four times a day and now we’ve reduced that to once or twice.”
As a result, The Farmstead is diverting an estimated 1,000 pounds of organics from the trash every week, which is turned into nutrient rich compost. In total, the senior living community expects to compost 26 tons of organic material annually.
“Our organics recycling program is one more way that we can do something good with very little effort,” shared Minar. “All our residents are thrilled that we are composting and our staff also likes that we are being green.” Minar also explains that this will be an ongoing initiative, and plans to look at expanding the program to include its smaller onsite kitchen and common areas, including paper towels from the restrooms.