Core to Compost: The journey of an apple

by Stephen Geffre

A year ago, all food waste from Augsburg’s dining center was hauled away and dumped in a landfill with the trash of thousands of other Twin Cities businesses, homes, and schools.

Last fall, however, the fate of Augsburg’s garbage changed when students from the Sustainable Cities in North America course (see story) worked with A’viands, the College’s food services provider, to launch a campus composting program.

Photojournalist and staff photographer Stephen Geffre followed an apple as it traveled more than 60 miles—from a Wisconsin nursery through Augsburg’s kitchen and dining center to a composting facility in Chaska, Minn., where it once again will travel to nurture spring plantings.

In the autumn, workers at Nesbitt’s Nursery, near Prescott, Wis., harvested the apple and shipped it more than 60 miles to the Augsburg kitchen where it was served to diners. The remains of the apple were tossed into the composting bin with napkins, chicken bones, jello, pizza crusts, etc.

The apple remnants and its compostable companions were transported to Chaska, in the regular twice-a-week pick-ups. There, the apple core was mixed with other biodegradable materials like tree clippings and yard waste. Over the course of 90 days the mixture was turned, separated, mixed again, and heated until it’s ready to emerge as compost.

This nutrient-rich material will be sold this spring to landscapers, community gardeners, and to the nearby Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to provide nourishment, perhaps, to an apple seedling there.

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