Compost might not sound like a topic that brings people together, but two students from Lorain County JVS found a way for it to do just that. Chesnie Pierson, Landscape and Greenhouse Management senior from North Ridgeville and Aliana Luna, Culinary Arts senior from North Ridgeville, were talking and sharing things from their career tech labs, when an idea came to mind.
“Aliana and I were talking, and she was telling me that when the juniors in the culinary program start out, they learn knife skills, using a lot of potatoes, and that then become waste,” said Pierson. “This made me think about my program being able to use that compost in our flower beds.”
Beth Berthold, Landscape and Greenhouse Management instructor, was excited to see her student taking the initiative on this idea. “Before she even talked to me about the project, Chesnie was talking with Aliana, gathering information, and putting a plan together to pitch the idea to me.”
Pierson and Luna brought their idea to their instructors, who both gave their approval, and the project was under way.
“Food scraps and eggshells are collected into compost bins in our kitchens,” Luna explained “and the Landscape and Greenhouse Management students come once or twice a week and collect the bins to use with their compost, so nothing goes to waste.”
Jordan Krystowski, Culinary Arts instructor, shared that the project is going great so far. “The students really took great initiative in checking the bins and keeping up with the compost. They are excited to be doing something positive with our scraps.”
According to Pierson, the compost gets mixed into the Lorain County JVS flower and garden beds on campus.
“We are doing a separate experiment as well,” said Pierson. “Some of the beds have soil with compost mixed in that has yard waste, along with the culinary waste, while other beds have soil with compost mixed in that only has food scraps in it. We want to see how the soil reacts and what changes might take place.”
A bonus to this project is the students seeing their peers at work in their career tech labs. Something they might not have seen otherwise. “I really enjoy working with a different lab, and seeing all that goes on,” shared Pierson. “I’ve never been back in the culinary kitchen before, and I’m amazed at how much is going on!”
Berthold is hopeful that all the students will learn something because of this project. “I hope the students see we can help to recycle items that we would normally send to the landfill. The compostable garbage does not break down in the landfill and gives off gas. By each person doing their part, it helps to not fill our landfills and teaches them that compost is putting great nutrients back into the soil and beds.”
For Krystowksi, she sees this as an opportunity to make a long-lasting impression with her students. “I hope students learn that you can run a kitchen with almost zero produce waste if they start composting. This is something they can challenge the restaurants they work for to start doing as well. There are many local farms that will jump at the opportunity to collect the compost from restaurants to benefit their crops. This could build long standing relationships in the culinary industry.”