Not all farmers produce edible products, in fact, Michael and Maria Wedum started creating “Black Gold” to help our community and environment. It’s not the black gold we remember from the popular 60s sitcom song, but a compost which is key to helping plants take up the necessary nutrients for growth. They created COR Compost last year after countless discussions of personal growth in homesteading and sustainability. They have been embraced by the Savannah community, for good reason!
Friend Your Farmer: COR Compost
The duo got their start when they became eager to learn more about sustainability. They began taking online courses and traveling to different specialized workshops to gain more hands on experience. Composting quickly became a light bulb like sensation once they realized how much it could impact the problems in conventional practices in agriculture and the waste stream. There are numerous benefits to returning these materials back to nature. Countless environmental benefits and sources of energy are possible, not to mention, it creates a regenerative and valuable resource needed for the health and fertility of our farmland.
Michael, former military and now massage therapist and Maria, a hair stylist, decided to take on the challenge and bring composting to Savannah. “We knew taking on this task and creating the kind of infrastructure needed to make a difference in the community was most likely going to be one of the largest challenges of our lifetime. Which was terrifying. This movement is far beyond us. Taking that in stride we decided that we had to give it our all regardless of the fact that our financial security was in completely different industries.: says Michael.
The couple started researching other cities making regenerative solutions and trained in California at USCC on best management practices in large industrial scale operations. Maria says, “Our minds were blown! We set up accounts with a couple restaurants to provide weekly services adjusting our other jobs to make this a reality. Since then we have acquired 13 accounts commercially and set up a transfer station for residents at Forsyth Farmers Market.”
They are now enjoying some of the fruits of their labor with a little over 300 participants in their Forsyth Farmers Market program. Maria says, “We want this to be a community endeavor because it truly is not one person doing everything perfectly but many small efforts made by all that makes a real difference. Our biggest challenge has not only been in time but also the capital to go big in the expensive equipment/land needed to really grow. However we are plugging away at the small changes in growth and are so grateful when we have help along the way. In the meantime we are fine tuning the layout and plans of the ultimate commercial scale facility that will make some serious changes.”
Their current pilot program is located at Bethesda Academy for Boys where their farm research has been. After they collect materials they process them in large 5-7 foot high piles that keep temperatures around 140-160 for at least a month. This heat is a natural process as result of thermophilic bacteria consuming the essential nutrients needed from the pile. Finished product is a rich hummus many call Black Gold…full of beneficial and essential microorganisms symbiotic to your plants health and vitality and the key to helping these plants take up the necessary nutrients for growth. They now have a system that pushes air at the base of the pile every hour and is completely run off solar power. Incorporating air in this way means less fuel and time for us to manually move the pile to allow air into the pile during the entire decomposition stage. Like all living things these little guys need air, food and water. With this simple and efficient method they can process full waste into compost in just two months versus 4-5 turning with a tractor.
The process is overwhelming and frustrating at times, with the lack of time and monetary means to accelerate this project quickly. However, the response from the community has kept them going. Maria says, “Many have told us they personally think we have accomplished a lot in the time we started. We just have to stay diligent in a project that is still progressive and understand that change requires education, action, and perseverance.”
What Maria said is worth mentioning again, “many small efforts made by all that makes a real difference.” So get out to the farmers market and sign up with COR Compost Saturday. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to make a big impact in our community and environment. You can also message them through their website www.corcompost.com.
Learn about other local farmers & where your food comes from at ScoutSavannah.com.