GREENFIELD — The town is giving homeowners and apartment dwellers the option to recycle their food and other compostable scraps at the transfer station with the hope that many will eventually learn how to compost the materials themselves and use the organic fertilizer in their own backyards.
The town currently offers the option for residents to recycle everything from meat and bones, which cannot be recycled in home composting, to fruits and vegetables, eggs and eggshells, bread, rice and pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds, paper filters, soiled pizza boxes, paper towels and napkins, paper plates and cups and small wooden fruit crates.
The town says anything that can be put in a garbage disposal may also be brought to the transfer station.
According to Janine Greaves, the town’s recycling coordinator, the town will collect in a Dumpster all of the compost materials brought to the landfill by individuals, and the materials will be picked up weekly and transported to Martin’s Farm & Compost at 341 Plain Road.
Martin’s, a local family-owned business, has been composting for a quarter-century.
The farm’s compost customers include home growers, organic farmers, greenhouse growers, landscapers and commercial farmers.
Its compost process takes three months to transform the raw materials and then another month or more to mature.
“This is so exciting,” said 29-year-old Adam Martin, who recently bought the business from his father. “This is going to be a great way for everyone to do their part and make a difference.”
Martin said Massachusetts landfills are going to be at capacity within the next dozen years or so and people need to start thinking about how to generate less trash.
“Everyone talks about a ‘green’ Greenfield,” said Martin. “This is a good way for everyone to be a part of that.”
Martin said the farm can compost meat and bones and things that people can’t at home, because of the high heat its process produces.
He said the farm is Baystate organic-certified.
“People will be able to be a part of the composting process by dumping their stuff at the transfer station,” he said. “Then they can come here in the spring for their compost. I like to imagine someone coming in for some compost that they had a part in.”
Martin said he does not know, without doing some research, how much compost the farm generates each year, but “it’s quite a bit.”
He said the company is growing every year.
“More and more people are using compost,” he said. “Some come for a pail, while others come with a dump truck.”
Greaves said the town won’t be doing any composting.
“Actually, residents won’t have to, either,” she said. “All they’ll have to do is collect their waste in paper or plastic bags, bring it to the transfer station and dump it.”
She said if it is brought to the transfer station in a paper bag, the bag too can be tossed in the Dumpster. If it is brought in a plastic bag, the compost materials must be dumped and the plastic bag will have to be thrown in a different Dumpster.
Greaves said the drop-off site will be at 86 Cumberland Road. She said people can drop off their compost materials during transfer station hours throughout the year.
What won’t be accepted as compost is plastic bags, wrappers and wrap, liquids, tissues, plastic utensils, lids and straws. Greaves said Styrofoam, plastic cups and plates, pet waste and bedding, trash and plastic, metal and glass items will also be rejected.
Greenfield Department of Public Works Director Arthur Baker said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has set a goal to have all organic material diverted from disposal by 2020.
How to compost at home
While homeowners and apartment dwellers won’t have to compost themselves, the town hopes some will begin to do so.
Compost is simply decomposed organic material, said Greaves, who has applied for a grant and expects the town will be selling plastic compost containers for $4 within the next few weeks.
She said those containers may be used for composting or to simply collect materials and transport them to the transfer station.
For those who do not know how to compost, but would like to learn, one of the first things should be to buy or build an air-tight container or bin, especially if living in an apartment where the bin will most likely be located indoors.
There are two types of waste used in composting: “green” and “brown,” according to local composters.
Green includes kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, tea grounds, hair, and yard waste, including grass clippings, leaves and weeds. Seeds and invasive weeds should not be used.
Brown waste includes dead yard waste, like dry leaves and grass, shredded cornstalks, straw and sawdust, as well as paper and dryer lint.
Compost bins should be filled about four parts of brown waste to one part of green, layered alternately atop a three-inch layer of soil.
It takes a few weeks before the compost will be ready to use. It is ready when it has a dark, rich soil-type color and an “earthy” odor.
Compost may be used as a garden or lawn fertilizer and as a potting mix for seed starting or potted plants.
To use the transfer station, residents must first purchase a $5 vehicle sticker, good for two years, in the office of the Department of Public Works, on the second floor of the Greenfield Town Hall on Court Square. The office is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The transfer station is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon during the winter. It is open until 2 p.m. the rest of the year.
For more information about composting or where to purchase bins, call the DPW at 413-772-1528 or visit: www.townofgreenfield.org.
Also visit: www.howtocompost.org.
For more information about Martin’s Farm & Compost, visit: