B2G Compost owner Kate Wynne has been working on infrastructure and refining the composting process, since an early October deadline passed without an appeal of the decision by the Okanogan County hearing examiner that she doesn’t need a fence to block the view of the facility.
Wynne has several shipping containers for dry storage and is awaiting a final permit to construct a Quonset hut to protect feedstock and equipment from the weather.
Wynne has been creating compost from fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, spent grains, wood chips and sawdust at the B2G facility at the end of Horizon Flat Road in Winthrop for a couple of years. The organics decompose in piles that Wynne turns and monitors for temperature, which will continue to cure over the winter.
Wynne plans a more high-tech system using three aerated bays that will be easier to control and calibrate. That system has been delayed by the appeal process, but she’s hoping to start using the bays this winter or spring.
Each bay is equipped with an aerator to maintain the necessary temperature and moisture content. After that, compost will cure in windrows for 30 days and be screened before it’s ready for use. The high temperatures kill all pathogens, weed seeds and the apple maggot, Wynne said. She tests the compost regularly for the balance of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, and heavy metals.
As she waits for the permitting process to be complete, Wynne has been calibrating her system to the freezing temperatures and changing humidity and tweaking the recipe and balance of food scraps, carbon and moisture. What she’s producing looks and smells like compost, she said.
People compost in the Yukon and in the desert — it’s just a matter of refining the process, Wynne said. “The beauty of compost is it just gets better, as long as you can keep it moist,” she said. She expects to screen piles in the spring, after they cure over the winter.
In addition to fruit and vegetable scraps from local restaurants and spent grain from breweries, Wynne has been collecting residential compostables every week through a Methow Recycles subscription program, where people drop off food waste and ultimately get a bag of compost.
The Methow Recycles program is just a few months old, but Wynne and recycle center staff expect that more people will join during the winter, when they’re not using food scraps in their own gardens.
Despite the logistical delays, Wynne remains enthused about her new venture. “I read about microbes doing their thing, and about soil ecology, and I get excited by the wonder of it all,” said Wynne, a retired marine biologist.
Wynne has already sold some compost, and has also been producing mulch from “fertile” wood chips that covered the compost piles.
Wynne hopes to ultimately work with the transfer station in Twisp, which currently steam-treats yard waste to kill apple maggots and their larvae and trucks the treated waste to the landfill in Okanogan. She’s been in discussions with the county about the possibility of eventually diverting the yard waste from the landfill to be composted instead.
Although the hearing examiner determined that a sight-obscuring fence isn’t necessary to mitigate an adverse environmental impact, Wynne intends to build a vegetated berm to block the view of the facility from her neighbor. She will also install a bear fence around the food scraps.