Gleaned Wisdom on Composting

It’s not often you get to sit down with your local composter. Yet I had that pleasure a few weeks back when I met with Christopher Pepe, who recently launched Glean Organics.

Pepe has taken an interesting approach to commercial composting–a hyper-local one. The company will serve Durham, N.C., by going after the smaller waste generators. His long term goal is to have self-sustaining micro sites near where the waste is created. For example, behind a supermarket. That would eliminate the needless energy use of hauling heavy food waste to a far-off composter.

For now, Glean is just getting started. They’re sharing space with Carolina Worm Composting, under the considerable Piedmont Biofuels umbrella.

Once they get that feedstock, Glean has an interesting composting system. In a big tub, they will mix food waste with wood chips. Their design includes blowing air through the mixture to keep it aerobic. After the food waste has spent three days “in vessel,” Glean will feed that substance to worms.

The end goal is to sell compost, compost tea, worm castings and soil mixes. Yet it’s also to keep food out of the landfill and build a sense of community through collective composting. To do environmental and social good.

Pepe, who learned to love composting while growing up on a small farm in Vermont, is optimistic that the public is ready to play a role:

People are thinking more about their waste, about the influx of stuff that comes through their house. So it makes it a lot easier to start and run a composting operation when people want to give you feedstocks and want to buy your product.

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