We are excited to announce that the UArizona Compost Cats, UArizona Office of Sustainability and Cooper Center for Environmental Learning (Camp Cooper) have joined forces to create an educational garden space that incorporates a new compost and vermicomposting system as well as a native food plants and native pollinator plants garden.
The aim of this demonstration site is to create and maintain a space that will allow Camp Cooper to utilize available space for educational purposes, showcasing live examples of desert gardening, traditional composting, native pollinators, vermicomposting, rainwater harvesting, and more.
What is vermicomposting?
Vermicompost (vermi-compost) is the product of the decomposition process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. This process is called vermicomposting, while the rearing of worms for this purpose is called vermiculture. (Wikipedia)
Currently Camp Cooper does not have an onsite garden, and our composting facility is limited in capacity. Our collaboration will create large new garden area and composting facility that will compliment our Master Plan.
Design features include:
The garden site has an overall size of ~25 feet by 20 feet, with a perimeter of approximately 100 feet and an area of about 600 square-feet
The site is divided into two main sections, half for native pollinators and the other half for native food plants
A Palo Verde is already on site, and will be incorporated, along with native prickly pear and native food plants already on site.
A new interactive/educational compost system is to be positioned within this garden
A vermicomposting system can be established parallel to the wall of the rainwater harvesting cistern that is already in place or in another area
Fencing will be added to keep critters out, and a paved path will be added for wheelchair accessibility
Work on this project has already begun, and we aim to have our planting in place this summer. If all goes as planned, and field trips are able to restart this fall, we expect to have our first student visitors in October 2021, unveiling our new Demonstration Garden, Nature Playspace and new Bathrooms & Showers facilities.
Who Are The Compost Cats?
Millions of tons of waste enter Tucson’s landfills each year, and one-third is composed of organic materials that could be diverted and transformed via composting. Started in 2011, Compost Cats was the only organization in Southern Arizona accepting large volumes of food scraps, manure, brush and other landscaping materials. From 2011 to 2018, Compost Cats diverted over 20 million pounds of organics from local landfills, making it an invaluable component to waste management and broader sustainability efforts at the University of Arizona and across the region.
In late 2018, Compost Cats transitioned out of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension and into the Office of Sustainability. Since this transition, we have been busily realigning the program with the University’s strengths in education, outreach, and research. (UArizona Compost Cats)
This initiative is proudly supported in part by the Kroger Company’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste Initiative for 2020-2021