Solar Growing Compost and Veggies on Randall’s Island

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Sun Club dedicated its 60th solar project to Randall’s Island Park Alliance earlier this summer. The non-profit used its solar donation to install solar-powered composting technology that is estimated to save them$3,000-$4,000 a year on compost purchases. We checked in with them to see how the solar power has impact their goals to date.

Something new has been cooking at the Randall’s Island Park Alliance Urban Farm this summer!

Since earlier this spring, we have been filling and re-filling new solar powered forced air composting bins that the  Green Mountain Energy Sun Club® has made possible for us.

For the past four years, Randall’s Island’s Urban Farm has been teaching the principals of healthy eating and ecology to students from all over New York City. Students who come to the Farm learn how sustainable food is grown and how to eat a nutritious diet, all while getting their hands dirty in the production, harvest and preparation of healthy food.

Our new compost system fits into that program perfectly by providing the backbone of our organic farming system: high quality, healthy compost.

This compost infuses the farm with life as it provides nutrients and microorganisms to the soil. These microbes support healthier vegetables, all while allowing us to process our own food wastes, eliminating the need for long transportation systems to bring compost into the farm, and saving us money. Most importantly, it introduces our students to the many ways that the farm recycles energy and nutrients through our environment and through ourselves. Students explore how solar panels and plant leaves both use light from the sun to make energy, and how we use that energy to create an ideal environment for microorganism to breakdown our food waste.

Our solar technology energizes a small fan which forces fresh oxygen through our compost piles, allowing the oxygen-breathing microbes to flourish deep inside our compost. These microbes break down our food scraps and crop residues into rich compost   which supports the next generation of vegetables in the Farm. Artificial and natural systems complement each other, creating sustainable, healthy, and tasty food all at once! It is beautiful!

These solar-powered compost bins do not need to be unique to our program. So many small farms, community gardens, non-profits, and school programs can benefit from a program like this. Start small and start talking to people already composting and you will be off making your own ‘black gold’ in no time at all!

The Urban Farm is a program of the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, a 503(b) non-profit which works with the City of New York and our local communities to help sustain, maintain, develop and program the Park which lies in the East River at the junction of the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, to support the wellbeing of all New Yorkers. For more information on the Randall’s Island Park Alliance and its diverse program please visit us at www.randallsisland.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @randallsisland.