Composting in the Valley Cuts Down on Food Waste

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

Eric Walter, chief composting officer at Black Bear Composting, is working hard to reduce food waste in the Valley.

Kathleen Stinehart, who owns Cranberry's Grocery & Eatery in Staunton, started composting her restaurant's food with Black Bear in July.

Since then, her restaurant has saved nearly a ton's worth off food from ending up in a landfill.

Cranberry's is the first restaurant in Staunton to start composting with Black Bear.

"We'd like it to catch on and be the rage and have every restaurant doing it, that would be wonderful," Stinehart said. "It's amazing how it adds up, and we're just a small daytime cafe."

The food takes about six months and a three-step process to turn into compost. After that, it heads to farmers in the Valley who can use it to grow crops.

"We're recycling local, we're keeping the resulting compost local, and now that there's a means to do this, there's no reason people shouldn't." Walter said.

Walter hopes to keep expanding his program in schools and in businesses in the Valley.

He already has saved thousands of pounds of food from landfills.

"It's part of the waste stream; let's keep it out of the waste stream, let's support our local farmers by making this a readily available resource," Walter said.

Stinehart said it feels good to make a difference.

"We're very big supporters of local food ... there's definitely a feel-good payoff," Stinehart said.
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