Gardening-Waste Composting at Lehman College
Landscape maintenance of Lehman College’s 37-acre campus produces a LOT of gardening waste. Approximate annual quantities for different streams of gardening waste:
- Leaves: 35 tons
- Lawn clippings: 11 tons
- Tree and shrub branches: 3 tons
- Wood chips: 2.5 tons
Lehman College has been composting its gardening waste since 1996. Leaves, grass clippings, weeds, and tree branches are added to the compost pile (windrow) and turned at regular intervals (using a payloader/front-end loader) to produce high-quality compost, which is used for gardening on campus. Weed seeds are inactivated by the heat produced by the natural composting process. In 2015, the compost made from gardening waste was tested (PDF on compost quality testing) by Cornell Cooperative Extension and found to be in the highest-quality category – suitable for use in growing food for human consumption.Finished gardening waste compost is used on campus grounds. For many years, Lehman’s extra gardening waste compost had been given away to NYC residents and community gardens through the New York Botanical Gardens. Starting in November 2014, Open Bin Compost Giveaway events (organized by the NYC Compost Project) have resumed at Lehman College and will be conducted at least annually.
Look for a new approach to gardening waste composting at Lehman College in the future: the single large (and difficult to manage) windrow will be replaced with several smaller windrows that will be easier and more efficient to manage, and continue to produce high-quality compost.