Composting at the Castle

Introduction by Matthew Dawson (CEO and Co-owner of Castle)

You are you what you eat eats, and what you eat is what it eats eats. What…….what?

You’ve heard that you are what you eat, right? That’s true. But what you eat eats matters as well. So, pasture raised eggs and grass fed beef are healthier than factory farm eggs and feedlot beef because what those cattle and chickens eat are healthier, not to mention the effects of stress and how they’re raised. But what about the food that the cattle, chickens, and grass fed lamb eat? What does that grass and those vegetables “eat”? It all starts with the soil. We take the health of our soil at the castle very seriously. We get healthier vegetables in our garden by feeding them the best possible soil. We get healthier animals by feeding them grasses and other crops fed by the best possible soil.

What is “healthy” soil, though? Why don’t we just add nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other chemical additives to our soil like a lot of other people do? We’ll get bigger vegetables for sure! Well, life is more complex than that. People used to ask me when we were getting livestock out at the castle, and my answer used to be “we have millions of head of livestock! You just can’t see them.” The soil is alive and teaming with organisms who are hard at work for us as long as we don’t mess it up with chemicals and additives. Instead of trying to control those livestock, our goal is simply to support them and not damage them. We do that by feeding them and not killing them. And the best way we know of to feed them and support them to keep the soil healthy is with composting.

People have been doing this for thousands of years, and honestly we don’t know of a better way. We take “waste” from the restaurant and farm and partner with microorganisms to break it down into material that is then used to feed our soil, the microorganisms that make it up, and then eventually our plants. Those plants are then fed to both our guests and our animals to make both healthier. This is a beautiful process that is well worth the effort. Now, thanks to the students from Locust Trace we’ll be doing this on a much bigger scale. I’ll let one of them tell you more about it.

Composting at The Kentucky Castle

By: Christina Mammen

The Kentucky Castle has recently tackled another large project alongside the Locust Trace AgriScience Center students- composting. One of the Kentucky Castle’s major goals is to educate the public on how food is grown and how what we eat affects our overall health. One of their big focuses is the Farm-to-Table program. This program establishes a larger understanding on the quality of food and provides more insight on how producers connect to consumers by providing high quality, seasonal, local products. How does this relate to composting? By building a compost bin, this will further the Farm-to-Table program by recycling the organic scraps from the kitchen and in return, turn that into a nutrient-rich soil.

Compost Bin during Construction

As a class, we set a goal of having the bins ready by the end of September. After completion, this bin will be used throughout the fall and winter. The compost will be used to nurture the new garden plants that will begin growing in the spring. This compost fits well with the Castle’s philosophy on organic, sustainable agricultural practices.

Locust Trace AgriScience Center Students Beginning Compost Bin

Students spent many hours working on this project and the Kentucky Castle is proud to announce they officially began composting with the bins on October 1st.

Students Continue the Project

Along the way, this bin has also helped educate the students in several ways. Not only did they learn more about composting, but also about construction and the tools used to build. Led by Stewart Dawson, these students worked alongside him and learned how to use equipment as well as safe construction practices.

Stewart Dawson (second from left) assisting students

The term, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” genuinely captures the spirit of this project. What better way to support agriculture in a beneficial and organic way than composting? By doing this, the Castle will continue their mission and provide people with the satisfaction of knowing where their food is coming from, as well as what it grew from. This organic alternative will reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and provide everything naturally. The nutrients in this compost will be reused table scraps from the kitchen and leaves and other waste from the farm. No added chemicals will be involved. Not only will table scraps be reused, but the posts and boards used for constructing the bin were also reused from older projects. Instead of buying fertilizers and other nutrient sources, this project recycles old food and turns it into the growing source of new food.

The Completed Compost Bin Ready for Use

By helping the environment one step at a time, the Kentucky Castle urges you to help too. 40% of American waste is organic and can be used as compost. This means you can reduce the amount of waste in landfills and in return, have a free, nutrient-filled soil that will improve your garden. This project hopes to encourage others to begin their own compost system and encourage others to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The next time you come out to the castle, be sure and check out the compost bins. You can see it from the rooftop if you come to a concert or just walk back and check it out if you’re there eating in the restaurant.

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