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Local farmer offers solution to food waste problem

By Staff | May 4, 2017

Chronicle photo by Vanessa McGuigan One of Mark Renaud’s compost piles.

Food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generating methane, also known as “greenhouse” gas. According to 2010 estimates provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, the estimated food waste in the U.S. is between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply, which equals approximately 133 billion pounds with a net worth of $161 billion. The average family of four wastes anywhere from $1,365 to $2,275 in food annually.

Mark Renaud of Spring Creek Farm on Trough Road outside of Shepherdstown, has a eco-friendly, local alternative to throwing that food into landfills: composting.

Composting is not a new concept, but Renaud is offering services to residents and business, particularly restaurants, to collect their food waste and turn it into what gardener’s have nicknamed, “black gold”.

“God created this earth for us to live on and we should take care of what God has given us. We need to be good stewards,” said Renaud.

Renaud says he takes anything that will break down: table scraps, food that isn’t used quickly enough before it goes bad, napkins and bio-degradable takeout containers and straws, newspapers and yard waste. He says things like magazines and boxes that are covered in a waxy substance are harder to break down. He covers the material he collects with sawdust and horse manure to keep the smell at bay and keep curious critters out.

Air and moisture heat the compost anywhere from 115 to 160 degrees. Renaud makes sure his compost reaches at least 131 degrees because at that temperature, weed seeds and other contaminants like bacteria and fungi are killed. Time and nature turn the waste into rich nutrients like nitrogen and carbon that feed the soil and nourish plants.

“We will go around to residents once a week-restaurants may need to be more often-and pick it up. People can buy their own container or I can provide them one, if they want,” said Renaud. “Or people can come here to drop off at no charge.”

The city of Seattle, Washington fines homeowners for putting food into trash cans, and other cities like San Francisco and Vancouver mandate composting. Renaud says he feels it won’t be long before this becomes law nation wide.

“It’s easy to separate out the food,” said Renaud. “There are even some grocery stores locally that have separate bins out back for their waste.”

“I know I can’t save the planet,” continued Renaud, “but if there’s a way to help out a little-to help take care of the environment where we live, then me, my wife and my daughter-we’re going to do it.”

For more information about the food recycling, call Mark Renaud at 304-620-2318.