Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin Compost Drives at Austin schools!

Five Halloweens ago, two volunteers at Bryker Woods Elementary organized an annual post-Halloween Pumpkin Compost collection for the school community and neighbors to put their jack-o-lanterns to good use! More than 800 pounds of pumpkin were chopped up for use in the school garden's compost piles. Fortunately, by the Halloween of 2009, a commercial compost service was collecting the school's compostable material and accepted all pumpkins (without all the painstaking chopping). Pumpkin composting is now a 5-year-old tradition at Bryker Woods.

This tradition helped spawn Pumpkin Compost drives at TWO other elementary schools who took a different approach by helping area farmers and involving students!

Zilker Elementary is the lastest school to join this effort with a trailer on campus to collect pumpkins and take them to east Austin's Hausbar Farms to use as animal feed and farm compost.

Since their first Pumkin Compost Drive in 2011, Barton Creek Elementary expanded their collection to Westlake High School and their deliveries for 200+ to two local farms (Green Gate Farms & McGeary Farm). If they had collected even more pumpkins, Fruitful Hills Farm would have loved to accept them. With the help of students, BCE offered pumpkin drive through/drop-off service in the school's drop off lanes before school and a drop-off site in the school parking lot during school hours. Westlake High School hosted a designated pumpkin collection spot. Volunteers drove their trucks and trailers, which were used in the collections, to happy pigs and cows in Austin area. Organizers say the secret to a successfull drive is PROMOTION.

"We announced on our school facebook page, announced for 2 weeks in a row in our newsletter, had all teachers send an email to all parents," said BCE organizer Birgit Schwickert.

"We were holding up signs [that read] 'Got Pumpkins?' Wednesday and Thursday in car drop off lanes. My husband had a pumpkin costume on and was holding a sign as well...that really made people smile and remember!"

You can read more about their work and view photos here.

Inspired to organize a pumpkin drive next year? Here are is some information you might consider including in your get-out-the-pumpkin campaign.

Did You Know?

"About 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin end up in our landfills after Halloween. Not only do these pumpkins take up space, they emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide." [1]

“If just 10 percent of all pumpkins sold this year were composted instead of being thrown out with the garbage, 100 million pounds of waste could be kept from the nation's landfills annually. The effect of this level of waste reduction would be as though nearly 42,000 U.S. households stopped producing garbage altogether.” [2]


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