We know it can be tempting to rake all those leaves into a heaping pile and burn them, but, while it might be fun for kids especially, it is not a sustainable solution to yard waste. Rather than returning the beneficial organic matter back to the earth in the form of nutrient rich compost, you release harmful toxins and pollution into the air. According to ecologist, Luke Curtis,
Burning a ton of leaves will produce about 117 pounds of carbon monoxide, 41 pounds of particulates (most of them smaller than 10 microns and easily absorbed in the lungs), and at least seven highly carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The Washington State Department of Ecology notes that smoke from burning yard waste can be just as harmful as cigarette smoke. Yikes. Burning leaves was a fun pastime, but so was riding in the car without a seatbelt or a carseat. We know better now, so we owe it to our kids to do better.
Unfortunately, it’s also not as simple as letting all those leaves decompose on their own in your flower beds. We talked about this in a blog post a couple years back. Fallen leaves will hold up to five times their weight in water, rivaling even peat moss in water retention levels. Since they retain so much water, these leaves will increase acidity levels and can smother and promote fungal diseases in the lawn underneath. You could pile it all up in the backyard somewhere and wait for the magic to happen, but the resulting dirt will not be the black gold that Earth Care Farm produces.
They have been turning organic waste into compost since 1977! The process has been fine tuned over all those years and the resulting compost speaks for itself. The care they take in their process is evident and described here:
All ingredients are mixed and turned in an aerobically-managed compost process on our farm. We compost the blended ingredients for approximately 1 year to ensure a well cured and finished product. The final production step is the screening of our finished compost to a particle size of 1/2″ or less. The screened compost then cures an additional 6 months, resulting in a final product that is approximately 18 months old.
With such a meticulous and lengthy process, it’s easy to understand how leaves, food scraps, coffee grinds, animal manure, wood shavings, etc could become the fine, rich soil that it does. We know first hand the benefits that this compost provides when used on lawns and gardens. That’s why we use it in our lawn renovations, organic fertilization program, and whenever we amend soil. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful farm in our community and we are happy support them as a business, vital community members, and environmental stewards.