Compost from students’ homes picked up for campus garden
August 18, 2016
Student workers at University
of Wisconsin-Stout’s campus garden — aptly named UW-Sprout — make sure sustainability
and natural are more than just buzzwords.
Forty hours a week
during summer, they nurture plants while on their hands and knees, eschewing
power tools. They pull weeds; no chemicals are used. Mulch around the plants is
free from a city program.
When it comes to
delivering the garden’s bounty weekly to the 17 shareholders in Menomonie, the
three summer employees, Katie Ankowicz, Christina Hammerstrom and Connor Hobart,
use only natural energy as they pedal their bikes around town with boxed produce
This summer, the
second year of the operation on north campus, students have gone the extra mile
to make the garden even more sustainable and natural. They have been biking to
the homes of five fellow students and collecting their compost.
“We thought it would
be a good way to get compost and to get other students involved in the garden,”
said Ankowicz, of Madison, garden manager. She is majoring in
environmental science with a concentration in plant science innovations.
Once a week, garden
workers pick up compostable items — leftover food and other biodegradable items
— that the off-campus students leave in a bucket outside their apartments.
The fresh compost is
dumped onto a compost pile when workers return to the garden. It takes about a
half-hour to make the compost run.
compost pile will break down and become the “black gold” gardeners covet as a
way to enrich their soil while completing a natural cycle, from ground to table
The garden has one fully
decomposed pile of compost ready to spread while another compost pile, which
includes the fresher organic material collected this summer, won’t be ready
until next year.
Garden workers hope
to expand compost pickup to more students in off-campus housing in the coming
years to help the garden but also to spread the word about composting and
living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Garden workers also
are looking into continuing compost pickup year-round.
“A lot of people
want to compost but don’t know how to do it or where to bring it,” Ankowicz
said. “We’re trying it out, and next summer we hope to build the program. It’s
been easy. We’re building our compost pile, and we get some exercise.”
Students also pick
up spent grains weekly from Real Deal Brewing, part of the Raw Deal restaurant
on South Broadway Street, for composting.
Oakdale, Minn., is a senior industrial design major who likely will earn a
minor in sustainability. She loves harvesting the produce and delivering it to
“Anything related to
sustainability has been a passion or concern of mine,” said Hammerstrom, the
garden assistant manager who also is on the university track and cross country
Hobart, of Palmyra,
is a garden assistant. He is a junior majoring in applied social science.
Garden covers 3,000 square
Along with three
paid student workers, UW-Sprout Campus Garden welcomes students and local
residents interested in volunteering. In exchange for their help, volunteers
can take home some produce.
The garden, with
about 40 varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers, covers 3,000 square
feet —one-fifth of an acre — on a university lot on Fourth Street West behind
Red Cedar Hall.
The garden was created to teach students about sustainable
food production and to enhance the campus culture regarding sustainability,
ecology and healthy eating, but it’s also being run as a business, with
shareholders paying an annual fee in exchange for produce.
UW-Sprout is not certified organic, but the garden follows organic growing
methods, Ankowicz said.
To see a UW-Stout video about the garden, click here.
UW-Stout’s campuswide recycling program includes collecting
compost, which is picked up by a waste hauler. During the recent eight-week
Recyclemania national contest, UW-Stout recycled and composted more waste than
it sent to the landfill.
For more information about the garden, go to the Facebook page or send an email; call the
UW-Stout Sustainability Office, 715-232-5254, or go to the website.
Hammerstrom dumps compost from other students’ homes on a garden compost pile.
is used to enrich the soil at the Campus Garden.
left, students Katie Ankowicz, Connor Hobart and Christina Hammerstrom bike to
other students’ homes to pick up compost for the garden.
Ankowicz and Connor Hobart work in the garden.
Hammerstrom, left, and Katie Ankowicz wash freshly picked produce from the