LSU AgCenter Providing Compost Training To Parishes Towns

Jr. Carney, Fortson, Virginia, Schexnayder, Mark A., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  4/19/2005 10:29:26 PM

LSU AgCenter expert Dr. Bill Carney shows participants at a recent workshop what to look for when operating a composting operation. The two-day workshop held at Lafreniere Park in Metairie was designed to provide composting information to municipalities and anyone else interested in large-scale composting operations.

News Release Distributed 07/30/04

The LSU AgCenter recently held the first-of-its-kind, two-day, large-scale composting workshop in Metairie for parishes and municipalities in the New Orleans area.

Dr. Bill Carney, LSU AgCenter associate professor and coordinator of its Callegari Environmental Center, said the training was for those who were composting much more than any homeowner ever would consider.

"We brought our two-day training to this area to share with neighboring parishes and the municipalities of this part of the state," Carney said of the workshop, which was designed to show parish and city governments that composting is becoming both environmentally and economically attractive as a good way to get rid of solid waste.

"Composting can be value-added in that the compost can be sold back to the public," Carney explained. "It can also be used in parks and recreation areas. Or they can, as some do, give it back to the taxpayers."

Carney explained that this was the first time the center has presented the large-scale composting workshop away from its demonstration and training location near the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. He has, however, conducted workshops about backyard composting for homeowners in Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette, Crowley, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.

"I guess Lake Charles is the only large metro area that we haven’t been to," Carney said. "But the large-scale composting workshop is normally held on-site in Baton Rouge, because the needed equipment is there."

On the other hand, Carney said he is open to taking the workshop to other areas around the state, if requested.

The LSU AgCenter’s Callegari Environmental Center is located on an 8-acre site at the LSU AgCenter’s Central Research Station south of Baton Rouge. The facility includes an 8,500-square-foot building that houses the Organic Degradation Research Laboratory, offices, a meeting room and storage area. Next to the building is a 3-acre composting pad.

The Callegari Environmental Center’s mission involves research and educational programs related to concerns about the environment. Among its activities are research and training on large-scale composting, organic byproduct recycling and beneficial uses for products that were once thought to be nothing more than waste. The center also conducts extensive solid waste management training for municipalities, agriculture and industrial organic waste generators.

"Typically municipalities will be working with what we call green wastes, which include tree trimmings, plant materials and all the kind of stuff that you’d see at the curbside being picked up by the city," Carney said about municipal composting efforts. "Some municipalities will also use food products in their compost."

Virginia Fortson, an LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish, said one of the reasons for the workshop in that area was to encourage dialogue among the local governments in the hope of spurring them to start talking about the possibility of regional composting.

"From our strategic planning meetings with Jefferson Parish, we were asked to look for ways to reduce the solid waste stream," Forston said.

Mark Schexnayder, another LSU AgCenter agent in Jefferson Parish, said the workshop brought nearly 50 participants from five different parishes, local large-scale composting companies and other area universities.

"I thought that the participation was excellent and that the group, as a whole, felt that the time is right to move toward some type of regional composting effort," he said, adding, "I’m looking forward to the LSU AgCenter helping achieve that goal."

Not only are cities and parishes interested in composting, but also Wiley McCormick, an investor from New Orleans, may get in on the action.

"Composting and waste management is going to be a profitable business for someone who gets in there early," McCormick said. "I was intrigued to hear that some operations in other states have the product sold before they even started the composting operation."

Others interested in composting were Wynecta Fisher, deputy director of Environmental Affairs for the City of New Orleans, and Nancy Brennan, the owner of Laughing Crow Worm Farms in Lafayette.

"The City of New Orleans, along with Jefferson Parish, is looking for ways to do a regional composting center," Fisher said. "Nothing has been finalized, but we do know that we have a lot of green waste here."

Fisher also explained that New Orleans is a prime place to export the product. So this could be a business venture.

In addition, Brennan said she is already creating compost from coffee grounds.

"What I want to do is produce better compost that I can mix with the worm castings and market that product," she said.

For additional information on composting, contact the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center at (225)578-6998 or the LSU AgCenter agent in your parish. You also can obtain more information on the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center and its programs by visiting the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at


Bill Carney at (225) 578-6998 or
Virginia Fortson at (504) 838-1170 or
Mark Schexnayder at (504) 838-1170 or
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or

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