I want to garden. How do I get started?
Oh boy. The list here is practically endless.
First off, try approaching gardeners in your neighborhood. They’ll probably be open to sharing what works best for them. You’ll simultaneously get information tailored to your climate AND build community.
Next, see if there’s a “Master Gardeners” group by the American Horticultural Society in your town. That’s another great way to make connections and get ideas.
Finally, if you want to peruse some pages, we quite like these resources:
- Bartholomew, M. “Square Food Gardening” (book and others, 2006) Great gardening references in step-by-step, foot-by-foot format.
- Coleman, E. “The New Organic Grower” (book – 1995) The go-to reference for the home and market gardener.
- Coleman, E. “Four Season Harvest” (book – 1999) Lean how to grow organic vegetables from your home garden all year long.
- Coleman, E. “The Winter Harvest Handbook” (book – 2009) Learn how to produce vegetables year-long using deep organic techniques and unheated greenhouses.
- Damrosch, B. “The Garden Primer” (book – 2008). The one-volume reference guide to gardening simply, beautifully, and well. Includes the basics of landscaping and over 500 illustrations.
- Damrosch, B. “Theme Gardens” (book – 2001) Barbara Damrosch show you how to plan, plant and grow sixteen gorgeous garden designs.
- Danks, S. “Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation” (book, 2010) – compelling color guidebook for designing and building natural schoolyard environments.
- Flores, H.C. “Food Not Lawns,” (book – 2006) Shares a nine-step permaculture design to build fertile soil, promote biodiversity, and increase natural habitat. Great for farmsteads and city dwellers.
- Jeavons, J. “How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine” (book, 2005) – The quintessential reference on sustainable gardening.
- McGee, R., Stuckey, M. “The Bountiful Container,” (book – 2002) Great reference for growing in containers.
- Ruppenthal, R.J. “Fresh Food From Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting” (book – 2009) Great suggestions for urban gardeners faced with challenges of lack of space and light.
I hear supporting my soil is important. Where should I turn?
First, have a laugh with these 3 quick (<1 min) clips, where lawn ornaments go to jail and buff and leafy trees liken compost to a nutrition shake.
Then, dig in a little deeper:
- Kellogg, C. “Our Garden Soils” (book, 1952) – Resource by the same author of The Soils That Support Us.
- Let’s Talk About Soil, (video 5:21) IASS Vimeo Channel, globalsoilweek.org Great summary of our soil and its role on our planet.
- The Healthy Soils Initiative (website) California Department of Food and Agriculture discussion on crop growth and food production.
I want to compost in my backyard or apartment. What are simple resources?
- Appelhof, M. “Worms Eat My Garbage” 2nd Ed. (book, 2006) Every home that likes soil and worms needs this on their shelf.
- BillyOh (website): Created an excellent Composting Guide for Beginners: Helpful Tips to Make Great Compost. Check it out.
- Compostory Learning Center (website) Online learning about compost.
Food waste seems fascinating. Where should I turn for more info?
Food waste is indeed the next frontier in recycling that’s gaining momentum with every morsel diverted from the landfill. Here are a few resources:
- Bloom, J. “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)” (book – 2010) Jonathan Bloom’s easy-to-read chronicle of food waste. Lots of great statistics and references.
- CalRecycle: Volume and Weights of Organics (website) A handy reference table with common materials and their average weights.
- Food Waste – how it is recycled (video 1:21) Cute animated video by RecycleNow in England on how to turn food waste into biogas or compost.
- Food Waste Reduction Alliance: Best Practices & Emerging Solutions TOOLKIT(pdf report, Spring 2014 – Vol 1) A joint project by Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association & the National Restaurant Association
- Food Tank (organization) The food think tank.
- Keeping Organics Out of Landfills (article – 2011) The US Composting Council’s position on keeping organics out of landfills.
- Love Food, Hate Waste (website) A resource WRAP put together on fun, helpful ways to reduce food waste and save money. Tailored for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Includes tips on “savvy storage” and “portion planning”.
- ReFED (website) The data-driven guide for businesses, government, funders and nonprofits to collectively reduce food waste at scale. “Together, we can reduce U.S. food waste by 50% by 2030.
- Region 9, EPA – Pacific Southwest (website) Great food waste facts and applications specific to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)
- REPORT (2014): Buzby, Jean C., Wells, Hodan Farah, and Hyman, Jeffrey. “The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States” USDA, Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-121) 39 pp, February 2014. Exploration of how “in the United States 31 percent — or 133 billion pounds — of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went eaten”
- REPORT (2012): Gunders, D. “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” NRDC Issue Paper IP: 12-06-B NRDC presents the data and findings of how the US wastes 40 percent of the food that it grows.
- REPORT (2009): “The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact” Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC (2009) The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. Research that presents the environmental impacts of food waste.
- Sager, Ira, “Living in the United States of Food Waste,” (article – 2010) Bloomberg Businessweek special report with helpful links to additional resources on food waste.
- Stuart, Tristam (thought leader) Awarded the Sophie Prize 2011 for work on solving teh global food waste scandal. Includes talks, statistics, and resources.
- Think • Eat • Save (website) Explores how to “reduce your foodprint”
- United Nations: Food And Agriculture Organization, “Global food losses and food waste: Extent, causes and prevention” (report – 2011) Roughly one-third of food produced fro human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.
- USDA’s Food Distribution Programs (website) Links to resources on food recovery programs for businesses, community-based organizations, private citizens and local governments.
- US EPA: Food Waste Basics (website) Provides great references including a food waste calculator, a food bank locator, and guides for business recycling.
- Wasted Food (blog) The intrepid food waste expert and author of “American Wasteland” – Jonathan Bloom – chronicles developments on the food waste front.
If you want to learn more about food waste policy, try these:
- CALIFORNIA Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board: Proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Pathway for the Production of Biomethane from High Solids Anaerobic Digestion (HSAD) of Organic (Food and Green) Wastes (report – 2012). Presents the results of a life cycle analysis (LCA) performed on the high solids anaerobic digestion modeling including carbon offsets and emissions reductions.
- CONNECTICUT (legislation): The organics diversion bill in Connecticut, SB 1081 – An Act Concerning Recycling and Jobs – that was signed by Governor Malloy on June 20, 2013, making it Public Act 13-285. Starting Jan 1, 2014, any commercial generator who produces 104 tons or more of organic waste per year is required to recycle organic material into composting or anaerobic digestion facility if it is within 20 miles from where the waste is generated.
- ENERGY VISION (report, 2013) – Turning Waste into Vehicle Fuel: Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), A Step-by-Step Guide for Communities, by Joanna D. Underwood and Matthew P. Tomich
- MASSACHUSETTS (legislation): Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban Effective October 2014, MassDEP banned the disposal of commercial organic wastes by businesses and institutions that dispose of one ton or more of these materials per week.
- MASSACHUSETTS (vision): Solid Waste Master Plan, 2010-2020. Calls for raising the state’s diversion rate to 64 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050.
I want to get involved in the organics management industry. Which organizations should I consider?
- American Biogas Council Join them. Sign up for their informative webinars. ABC is go-to resource for all projects and policies related to biogas.
- BioCycle: Subscribe to their magazine. Attend their conferences. They provide all you need to know about composting, renewable energy and organics recycling.
- Canada Composting Council (CCC) All things compost-related for Canada.
- US Composting Council (USCC) All things compost-related for the United State.
- Soil and Mulch Council The trade association for processors of horticultural mulches, consumer potting soils and commercial growing media in North America.
What would you suggest for the overall topic of garbage?
We tip our hat (and bin) towards these resources:
- Brown, S. “Putting the Landfill Energy Myth to Rest,” (article – 2010) BioCycle Vol. 51, No. 5, p. 23 – Sally Brown presents research on “single-use” organics management via landfilling and its impacts on national resources.
- Humes, E. “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash” (book – 2012) Edward Humes investigates the ins and outs of trash.
- Rogers, H. “Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage” (book – 2005) Heather Rogers explores the impacts of trash on our culture and lifestyle, and vice versa.
- Royte, E. “Garbageland: On the Secret Trail of Trash” (book – 2005) Elizabeth Royte’s exploration of garbage from her apartment in Brooklyn to its end destination.
Can you point me to resources specific to anaerobic digestion?
You bet. Anaerobic digestion is central to our – ahem – culture. Try these:
- American Biogas Council (website) – Great summary of digestion, policies, case studies, and industry members.
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: Anaerobic Digesters (website) – Great reference with metrics on the burgeoning biogas industry in Europe.
- Young, G. “Municipal Solid Waste to Energy Conversion Processes: Economic, Technical, and Renewable Comparisons” (book, 2010) A technical and economic review of emerging waste disposal technologies.
What about policy around biogas?
- Biogas Opportunities Roadmap (FACTSHEET, News Release; USDA, DOE, and EPA) The summary: the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap builds on progress made to date to identify voluntary actions that can be taken to reduce methane emissions through the use of biogas systems and outlines strategies to overcome barriers limiting further expansion and development of a robust biogas industry in the United States.
- Biogas Opportunities Roadmap (PDF)
- Biogas in the United States (pdf report, Feb 2014): An Assessment of Market Potential in a Carbon-Constrained Future, by Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University, Brian C. Murray, Christopher S. Galik, and Tibor Vegh,
- California Biomass Facilities Reporting System (website) A statewide collaboration to enhance the sustainable management and development of biomass in California.
- California Energy Commission (website) California’s energy policy and planning agency.
What about clean, renewable energy, or sustainability in general?
We quite like these resources on renewable energy:
- MacKay, D. “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” (book, article) Terrific resource for anyone wanting to wrap their heads around energy and metrics.
- Renewable Energy in the 50 States, by ACORE (report, 2012) American Council on Renewable Energy provides key developments that have shaped the renewable energy landscape in each state, including information on installed and planned capacity, markets, economic development, resource potential and policy.
- Solanki, C.S. “Renewable Energy Technologies: A Practical Guide for Beginners” (book, 2008) Good reference. Sometimes hard to get a copy.
For sustainability, start here:
- Braungart, M., McDonough, W. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (book – 2002) Braungart and McDonough’s environmental manifesto that reinvents how we think about material flow and resources.
- Grist (website): Witty, wise, and sometimes wacky views on the green world.
- Guide to Greening Cities (book, and companion website) by Sadhu Aufochs Johnston (Deputy City Manager, City of Vancouver), Steven S. Nicholas (Vice President, Institute for Sustainable Communities), and Julia Parzen (Coordinator, Urban Sustainability Directors Network).
What about urban agriculture?
More to come on this important topic. For now, try:
- Urban Design Lab | The Earth Institute | Columbia University, “The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City: Growing Capacity, Food Security and Green Infrastructure” (report – 2012). Beautiful presentation with narrative, maps and charts of the intersection of urban gardening, food security, obesity, lower costs, improving water, reducing crime, soil remediation opportunities, energy benefits of rooftop agriculture, and how to build community.
Can I listen to some podcasts with Harvest Power?
Sure! Tune in:
- WGBH, Boston Public Radio (podcast 14:10) “Food Waste with Corby Kummer,” Corby Kummer, Senior Editor at The Atlantic and renowned food critic catches up with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.
- Nature of Business (podcast 27:42) “Interview with Paul Sellew,” Chrissy Coughlin catches up with Harvest Power 4/2012.
- CBS Boston, WBZ (podcast 1:12) “Interview with Paul Sellew on Massachusetts’ New Clean Energy Results Program,” New England Business with Anthony Silva discuss new regulations around food waste, 11/2011.
- Radio Green Talk (podcast 48:57) “Interview with Paul Sellew,” Diana Dehm and Chrissy Coughlin learn more about Harvest Power, 5/2011.
- Radio Disney (podcast 7:36) “Backyard Composting” Creative dialogue explains how breakfast scraps can be turned into power and soil.
Where can I learn more about Harvest’s anaerobic digesters, or energy gardens?
- We’ve summarized the statistics of our energy gardens.
Or watch a few videos from Orlando, Florida.
The following two 2014 documents are provided by Harvest Power and Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy Fund:
Interested in learning about anaerobic digestion? Curious about composting? Check out our Harvest brochures for more information.
Download the Harvest Landscape Calculator for your next garden project!
This project uses low solids anaerobic digestion to turn organic waste from local businesses into clean energy and natural fertilizers.
Learn how low solids anaerobic digestion (LSAD) turns organic waste into clean energy and natural fertilizers.
Learn how organic materials get turned into clean energy and compost through HSAD technology and composting.
Learn how we help communities create a more sustainable future.
Harvest uses proven technologies to create biogas, compost, & natural fertilizers. This brochure has sample energy gardens, benefits, & more.
Harvest composts organic waste to recycle nutrients and organic matter for maintaining healthy soils and to divert waste from landfills.
High resolution Harvest Power logos are available for download as a .zip folder by clicking the logo to the left or the title above.
This useful table will help you figure out how much soil or mulch product you need for your next special project.
This helpful graphic illustrating which food scraps are great for enriched compost
This helpful graphic illustrating which single stream recycling items are accepted for most recycling programs
This helpful graphic illustrating which trash belongs in the garbage bin and is not ineligible for recycling
This helpful graphic illustrating a complete source separated recycling program with organic recycling, single stream recycling and garbage for the landfill
All the information you need about our Richmond, BC facility printed on one sheet of paper
All the information you need about our London, ON facility printed on one sheet of paper
All the information you need about our Orlando, FL facility printed on one sheet of paper
From mulch, soil to sand and stone, Harvest Consumer Products has you covered for all of your gardening needs
Discover the impacts of what Source Separated Organics can provide for a cleaner 21st century
Discover everything about Harvest including Source Separated Organics, Renewable Energy and Mulch and Soil Products