What if you could grow better tasting vegetables while knowing that your efforts are helping to slow down the rate of reaching capacity at your local landfill and contributing to a healthier Chesapeake Bay? What if you could report that your local business has reduced its waste footprint and increased its corporate sustainability practices? In Prince William County, those wins are possible.
One year ago, Freestate Farms had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open their new state-of-the-art aerated composting facility on Balls Ford Road in Manassas. It is one of the only facilities of its kind in the region; in fact, very few exist in the United States.
Freestate Farms transforms food and yard waste from cities, businesses, and individuals into high-quality compost, renewable energy, and organic produce. The benefits are increased soil health and productivity, reduced water use and pollution, minimized greenhouse gas emissions, and more sustainable communities.
Prince William County non-residential businesses should complete their trash or recycling annual surveys by Friday, October 15. This is an ideal time to think about the many ways you, your community, or your business might be able to compost food and yard waste from your home or business.
If you're a Prince William County resident or business, you can drop off your composting material for free, including yard waste, which can be dropped off at the Balls Ford Road composting facility and the Dumfries Road landfill location. Freestate Farms composts food waste at their Balls Ford Road location.
"Our public-private partnership with Prince William County provides a long-term solution for food and yard waste recycling in our community,” said Douglas Ross, CEO of Freestate Farms. “By keeping this material out of the landfill, we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extending the life of the landfill, and returning the nutrients from the food and yard debris back to our local soils.”
Their new facility diverts an estimated 80,000 tons of waste from local landfills and incinerators each year. During the the busy spring and fall months, that can equal up from 20 to 40 dump truck loads per day! The county estimates that this diversion will extend the life of the landfill by approximately 10 to 15 years.
“For many years, the United States shipped a lot of its waste to overseas landfills. Because this has become increasingly difficult, it creates opportunities for regions and communities to find better and more sustainable ways to manage their waste,” says Richard Riedel, marketing director at Freestate Farms. “It’s great that Prince William County took the initiative to create a public-private partnership that enables our area to recycle food and yard waste on such a large scale.”
Using the latest technology, including temperature probes and real-time air flow adjustments to maintain an ideal composting environment, Freestate Farms is able to compost nearly triple the amount of food and yard waste than the facility was able to do previously. The new facility processes compost in 60 to 75 days while the older process—placing material in long windrows—took six to nine months and used more space.
Getting Started Today
Freestate Farms’ composts, mulches, and top soils are crafted using recycled food and yard waste, providing the immediate and long-term nutrients that plants need. You can use their products in your flower beds, vegetable gardens, and lawns to help them grow faster, healthier and, for some types of vegetables, larger and tastier.
Here is a list of some things that you could do to become more sustainable and some considerations to keep in mind:
Recycle your organic waste:
- Place a food scraps container in your business’s kitchen or break area and empty each (or every other) day into a covered, 5-gallon bucket that you keep by your trash. The covered bucket prevents smells and pests; larger options are available too.
- Recycle your food scraps at the Balls Ford Road composting location or hire a company like Apex Organics or Compost Crew to pick them up. Individuals, companies, and municipalities can show up at Freestate Farms co-locations—Balls Ford Road or the county landfill—to drop off their organic waste, and it’s free to county residents and businesses.
- Old habits, such as just automatically throwing food scraps into the trash, are hard to break, but when it comes to composting, you can start small and increase what you do.
- Remember: “If it grows, then it goes!” Here is a great poster for what can and cannot be composted.
Use compost in your soil:
- Compost holds 20 times its weight in water. This means you have to water less frequently, saving yourself time and money. This also means that it helps prevent soil erosion.
- Additionally, it’s great with helping any erosion spots around your home or business.
- Compost helps filter pollutants, such as oils from roadways and driveways that are washed off with rain, so the water flowing back to the Chesapeake Bay is cleaner.
- The vegetables grown using compost are bigger and more flavorful because of the nutrients in the aerated soil.
Customers can purchase in an online store, receive delivery of bulk orders, walk in to either location, and pick up compost, topsoil, or mulches.
“It’s great that any sized business can participate. Whether you’re collecting food scraps at your restaurant, in the breakroom, or near the coffee machine, there is an opportunity to help improve our community’s sustainability,” says Riedel. “Individuals can start to compost their food scraps and yard waste to contribute as well.”
Freestate Farms has great plans as they move into Phase II. “With the second phase of construction, we will further expand our capacity to recycle food and yard waste, grow local produce, and generate renewable energy,” says Ross. “This will allow us to truly bring things full circle—recycling food scraps, returning those nutrients to soil, and then using that soil to grow healthy produce. We are excited that individuals and businesses will be able to participate in each of those stages.”
Start exploring what you can do to make a difference in your local environment by exploring the facility, products, and services you have right here in your own community.
Composting and headquarters located at 13012 Balls Ford Road, Manassas, VA 20109
County landfill facility located at 14811 Dumfries Road, Manassas, VA 20122
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