Composting Workshops

Backyard Composting Workshop

  • Cherry Hill Park Pavilion (312 Park Ave.) 
  • Sunday, May 19, 2024
  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn how to compost! Topics include: leaf mulching in your yard, yard waste composting, hands-on composting demonstration, making compost tea, proper food waste composting, and vermicomposting. All participants will receive free backyard compost bins, while supplies last.

To reserve a spot, email Master Gardener, Sandra Tarpinian or call her at 571-275-8800 (TTY 711).

Build-Your-Own Composter Workshops 

  • Next Event: TBD

Participants will start this workshop with a pile of recycled lumber, a recycled pickle barrel, and assorted screws and bolts, but you will leave with a fully functioning tumbler style composter! We will take you through the construction steps and also give you some primers on proper composting technique. The finished composter will hold 55 gallons of organic material. All lumber will be pre-cut and all tools and materials will be provided. The cost of the workshop is $75 and registration is limited to 15 people, although you may bring helpers to assist with the construction.  Workshop is hosted by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD).  For more information or to register for an upcoming class email or click the link above. 

Alternative Food Waste Collection and Composting Programs

Don't have a backyard or looking for an alternative composting option? The City offers a variety of programs to help everyone compost! In August 2015, the City began hosting a weekly food waste collection station at the farmers market.  After a year of sustained participation, the region's first 24-hour community compost program was launched at City Hall. Residents are invited to drop off food waste any day of the week. Check out current program offerings here.

Environmental Benefits to Composting

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are many benefits to composting, including:

Compost Enriches Soils

Compost has the ability to help regenerate poor soils. The composting process encourages the production of beneficial micro-organisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) which in turn break down organic matter to create humus. Humus a rich nutrient-filled material - increases the nutrient content in soils and helps soils retain moisture. Compost has also been shown to suppress plant diseases and pests, reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, and promote higher yields of agricultural crops.

Compost Helps Cleanup (Remediate) Contaminated Soil

The composting process has been shown to absorb odors and treat semivolatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including heating fuels, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and explosives. It has also been shown to bind heavy metals and prevent them from migrating to water resources or being absorbed by plants. The compost process degrades and, in some cases, completely eliminates wood preservatives, pesticides, and both chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.

Compost Helps Prevent Pollution

Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in stormwater runoff from reaching surface water resources. Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses.

Using Compost Offers Economic Benefits

Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. It serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments. Composting also extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills and provides a less costly alternative to conventional methods of remediating (cleaning) contaminated soil.