Fairbanks wastewater plant’s compost garden is wildly successful

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 20, 2010:

Amid the heavy equipment and industrial setting of the Golden Heart Utilities wastewater treatment plant, it’s easy to spot the nearby garden filled with squash, tomatoes and corn.

The lush plot runs along one side of the South Fairbanks facility and gives employees an opportunity to collect an armful of fresh produce on their way home. But the garden is more than a food source or a summer pastime — it proves a point about the soil it’s growing in.

The crops are planted in fresh compost, made on site from biosolids collected at the wastewater facility. The big cabbages are growing in 100 percent Golden Heart Utilities compost.

“The only thing mixed in there is sweat,” said Sylvia Brees, an administrative assistant for Utility Services of Alaska and “master weeder” of the garden.

As Brees proved, the compost can be the foundation of an impressive harvest. It’s the first year of planting a full garden, part of an experiment to show exactly what can be done with the abundant compost material.