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They Use Food Scrap Compost On Fields
Mighty Wind Farms is helping reduce landfill use while also building up their soils by using composted food waste. Owners Dan and Char Fatke work with restaurants to acquire their waste food, as well as CSA customers and others who visit their on-farm market.
    “During the summer, we collect about 1,000 lbs. of food waste each week from about 10 locations,” says Dan. “We also have receptacles in the market room at the farm where people can drop off their food waste when they pick up eggs and produce.”
    “Recycling their food waste has caught on well with our CSA customers,” adds Char.
    The couple doesn’t charge for pickups, which they do as often as twice a week. Restaurants are given trash bin-sized containers. Initially, 5-gal. pails were used.
    “The benefit of making our own compost outweighs the costs,” says Dan. “We benefit from being able to supplement our soils.”
    The Fatke’s produce beds lie in a former horse pasture. While it was easily certified as organic, it required a lot of soil amendments. Initially, they planted fruit trees and bushes, but 3 years ago, they started planting vegetables.
    “We needed organic matter for water retention,” says Dan.
    Food scraps are added to wood shaving-based chicken litter from the Fatke’s chicken coops, as well as bedding from a nearby goat farm. They also get old hay from a neighbor.
    “He makes a lot of hay and gives us old bales he hasn’t used,” says Char. “It’s still good for compost, even if it’s moldy.”
    The Fatke’s don’t take lawn clippings or leaves, as they are unsure if lawn chemicals have been used. They also avoid coffee grounds and other materials in plastic bags with zip ties.
    “We don’t want any plastic,” says Char. “We also ask that the food scraps not include any bones, meat or dairy.”
    Dan uses his tractor with a front-end loader to windrow and turn the compost, adding new scraps and carbon material as he builds the windrow. He aims for around 140-degree temperatures for about 15 days to kill off seeds and problem microbes.
    “A new pile breaks down pretty quickly, usually within about 3 mos.,” says Dan. “We let it sit and finish for another 3 mos. It gets applied in the spring or late fall.”
    One change the couple is making is to work with several restaurants using compostable utensils, containers and cups. They can add them to their food waste with even less going to the landfill. Some individual customers are buying disposable bags.
    “Most of the materials seem to break down well, but we plan to use a chipper on the utensils,” says Char.
    The Fatkes note that the restaurants most interested in composting the food waste are those that buy the most local produce.
    “When you deal with the owner/operator, who is often the chef, it’s pretty easy to get their cooperation,” says Dan.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mighty Wind Farms, 1981 Waters End Rd., Sister Bay, Wis. 54234 (ph 262-305-0623; mightywindfarms@gmail.com; www.mightywindfarms.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5