Sustainable Agriculture Through Home Composting

2014 Annual Report for YENC14-073

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2014: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Manager:
Virginia Roberts
Purdue University - Marion County Extension
Project Co-Managers:
Jeffrey Jones
Purdue Extension

Sustainable Agriculture Through Home Composting


Initial year/summer-fall 2014 Sust. Ag. Thru Home Composting

Jeffrey R. Jones/Extension Educator & Ginny Roberts/Program Asst., Purdue Extension Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana

Sustainable agriculture through home composting, North Central SARE, YENC14-073, 2014-15.

This grant project is facilitated through Purdue Extension Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana with participants in Beech Grove Middle and High Schools (two participating ag-science teachers each).

Youth participants (302) have completed a 20-question pre-test to gauge their general knowledge of composting. The average scores for correctly answered questions was 61% for the middle school students and 68% for the high school students. Supplies and materials have been ordered and delivered, comprising compost bins, tools, worms and signwork/holders.
As of this writing two local entrepreneurs have presented their own individual and unique twist on urban agriculture and how composting is a vital part of their enterprises with three more individuals slated to present winter/spring 2015. The actual live presentations with Q & A time have been lively and quite educational. The presentations are taped at one site and shared digitally with the other site. This is being done out of respect for the speakers and the fact that they are donating their valuable time to speak to the students. DVDs have been produced for teacher use in reinforcing the lessons, later reference and/or supplemental later use.
Students largely have learned composting basics at their respective school site and how it has importance in the settings of ‘urban farming’ situations with correlations to home composting. The school district places quite a high value on marketing their programming thus social media-sharing has been great and much has been shared with the community at-large regarding their project.

Thus far, complementary classroom activities/instruction has focused upon:

  • Students collecting daily food waste for their compost bins, weeks #1-2 averaging 51 lbs. compostable waste per day (~255 lb/wk) followed by week 3>on collecting an average of 85 lbs compostable waste per week   


“The students were required to take a fruit if they wanted a free breakfast, no matter if they were going to eat it or not, the first 2 weeks”.

“We were getting 3 buckets of apples and bananas that were hardly touched and tossing them into the dumpster. “

“We have been shredding paper and putting it into the worm bins to prevent them from being too wet”.

“We have also been using the rabbit’s used shavings to feed the worms when we clean out the cage each week.”

  • Temperatures inside and outside the worm-compost have been regularly collected to determine when they needed to add supplemental heat for the livelihood of the worms
  • The worm castings were regularly tested for pH level when determining the ratio of media to add to raised beds.
  • The worm castings produced have been collected and spread on raised beds in preparation for spring planting.

Future activities include (along with three more individual local presenters in the classroom on how they incorporate composting into their entrepreneur projects):

  • Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (N-P-K) testing
  • Strawberry patch planting, care/maintenance and harvesting
  • Problem solving/frequently asked questions, re: composting project
  • School-wide/community messaging regarding composting, advantages, methods and FAQ’s
  • Continued measuring, weighing, data collection etc. regarding long-range record keeping in order to scientifically substantiate the goal(s) of their project



Ginny Roberts
Extension Program Asst.
Purdue Extension
1202 E. 38th ST. 201 Discovery Hall
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Office Phone: 3172759268
Jeffrey Jones
Extension Educator
Purdue Extension
1202 E. 38th St. 201 Discovery Hall
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Office Phone: 3172759268