Everyday Hero: Meet “Nature” Jack Marine, Bala Cynwyd’s relentless composter

story by Missy SteinbergEven in december, “Nature” Jack Marine’s Bala Cynwyd home is surrounded by dozens of pumpkins. These former jack-o-lanterns, some of which are as large as 200 pounds, rest in Marine’s seven compost bins, undergoing a natural, three-month metamorphosis. Over time the pumpkins will become organic soil that Marine will use in his home garden to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and yes, more pumpkins.
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Compost center opens in University City

Organic waste in University City can now stay local thanks to the opening of The Dirt Factory, a neighborhood composting center. With help from a local property owner and the University of Pennsylvania’s donation of two Earth Tub composting systems, residents will have a place to bring their organic waste and, in a short period of time, access to a supply of finished compost. The center will also operate as the drop-off site for the Pedal Co-op’s composting service.

The Dirt Factory, 4308 Market St., Grand Opening: June 20, 4 to 6 p.m., For more information, visit universitycity.org.

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Waiting For The Worms

My first, and unfortunate, attempt at composting was using a static pile. The stinking, hot pile of primordial ooze I created was not only unfit for fertilizing my vegetables, but caused a severe rift in my relationship with my neighbors. So, I decided to switch to another method I’d discovered in my composting research: vermicomposting, or the use of worms to break down organic material.
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Business Is Picking Up

When Tim Bennett moved to Philadelphia 10 years ago, he wanted to compost. But composting in a college apartment seemed difficult and the city didn’t have a collection service (and still doesn’t). So, a few years later, Bennett started his own collection business. Today, Bennett Compost works with residential and commercial clients throughout Philadelphia, hauling their organic waste to community gardens and large-scale facilities in the area. We spent a day with Bennett to get a behind-the-waste look at what happens in the composting process.
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Particular Passion: Ned Foley's amazing journey from compost hobbyist to industrial leader

You could drive past the rusty mailbox and steep muddy driveway of Two Particular Acres, and be totally unaware you had passed a composting facility. There is no smell in the air, no hint of decomposing food, no sign that at the top of the driveway organic waste is being composted by the ton.
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Recycling Challenge: Yard Waste


Yard waste, consisting of grass, leaves and other garden debris, comprises an estimated 18 percent of the annual municipal waste stream.


Sending yard waste to the landfill puts an unnecessary seasonal burden on the municipal garbage collection system.  Leaf waste can account for as much as 60 percent to 80 percent of the waste stream in the fall, and grass clippings can make up 50 percent.

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Profile: King of Compost

Urban farmer and MacArthur Grant recipient Will Allen on the importance of greens, worms and more
by Lee Stabert

Everything about Will Allen is big. The pro basketball player turned urban agriculture iconoclast has hands like baseball mitts, and arms like tree trunks. His normal uniform—jeans, baseball hat, hooded sweatshirt with the sleeves removed—only serves to emphasize the power of his gentle, hulking presence.

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Local Business: Black Gold

A local company helps Philly businesses jump on the composting bandwagon 
by Lee Stabert

There is one word showing up left and right on the lips of top urban sustainability and food access experts: compost. To hear them speak of it, the stuff is magic—now it’s just a matter of getting the rest of society on board. Philly Compost, a year-old company based in Northwest Philadelphia, is doing their part to bring the city’s businesses into the fold.
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How-To: Compost

Turn waste into black gold
by Will Dean

If you’re reading this magazine, you probably have at least have a vague idea of what composting is. The natural way to make nutritious (for plants, that is) fertilizer, composting was once a standard practice for every farmer, gardener and consumer.
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