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News & Notes

An Ode to the Tidy Windrow

If you’ve visited Glynwood in person, you’ve likely enjoyed the view when you take the entrance to the farm via the Bigs Woods Trailhead. I’ve always enjoyed looking down the hill at the tiny version of our campus and feeling that I am on-set for the bucolic version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Won’t you see my compost?

Along the drive down to campus you’ll spot our compost pad where we manage several ‘windrows’ of compost. We make compost at Glynwood every season, and spread it on our pastures and vegetable fields to naturally replenish and fertilize the soil. There are many steps to produce quality compost. It’s an intensive process that includes turning and covering. We manage the compost turning as a team. Matthew Ball, Glynwood’s venerable Field Operator, and I trained apprentices this summer to mechanically aerate the compost with our tractor’s front-end loader. The active aeration of compost feedstocks—carefully balanced with ingredients like wood chips, leaves and manure—is necessary to help keep the good bacteria working to break down the ingredients and stabilize the nitrogen for use in our farm operations. The microbial activity and biodegradation produces heat, which kills pathogens and burns off weed seeds. 

You may also notice our compost piles covered with green blankets. An important part of our compost management system, the covers are a special woven fabric that wicks moisture and allows the compost to breathe. By using the covers, we can maintain an appropriate moisture level in the compost. 

There are many steps to produce a quality compost. Those tidy windrows don’t happen by mistake. It’s an intensive process and sometimes a little bit dirty. The operators usually have to change their cardigan.