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Sidney students visit county compost facility
Last spring, high school agriculture students, as well as the elementary school’s Green Thumb Growers Guild, started a program to develop, construct, and operate a sustainable garden for the school community.

To maintain the garden, composting bins were constructed to use nutrients in food waste, from students and cafeterias, could be composted and used as fertilizers in the gardens.

Students from Josh Gray’s elementary class, and high school students in David Teitelbaum’s and Jay Waltz’s classes recently visited Delaware County’s solid waste management center and compost facility in Walton. The idea was to allow the students the chance to observe the only solid waste composting facility in the state, and one of just 15 of these facilities combined in North, Central, and South America.

The trip also allowed students to compare and contrast a full scale facility to the composting programs they have been running at Sidney elementary and high schools.

At the facility, garbage is fed into a bioreactor where bacterial and other organisms naturally break down the organic material found in household garbage. Next, the material is filtered and turned into compost, which results in a decrease in landfill reliance by 51 percent. Composted material is rich in essential organic matter and is sold to landscaping companies.

Students also saw the recycling center in action. There, papers, plastics, metals, and glass are sorted manually, as well as through an extensive automated system of conveyor belts and sorting machines. Recycled and sorted material is then prepared for shipment and sold to other companies for various uses.
Later in the day, Sidney students also had the chance to tour the Oneonta wastewater treatment plant, learning about how sewage is separated through various physical and biological means into two main components – water and solids.

Solids are biodegraded and filtered out, whereas water is returned to the Susquehanna River, which is adjacent to the plant.

The trips were informative to students, as well as allowing them to make connections between the small-scale composting project at the school, to large-scale composting facilities.

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Sidney Central School District
95 West Main Street  |  Sidney, NY 13838  |   Phone: 607.563.2135  |   Fax: 607.563.2386
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