Municipal Composting: The Wynyard Story

Checking the microbes

Wynyard is a community of 2,000 people, 200 km east of Saskatoon on Highway 16. Nestled between Big Quill and Little Quill Lakes, Wynyard is on a major flyway for migratory birds. Environmental concerns are taken seriously in Wynyard. In 2007 after initial discussions with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council (SWRC), Mayor Sharon Armstrong and the rest of town council thought it was time to promote home composting and make a second attempt at community composting.

The pilesWynyard's difficulties with composting in the past came from two main issues: contamination and rodents. The compost drop-off and processing area had been located in an unfenced, unsupervised area near grain elevators. Unwanted items appeared at the site - a common situation in unsupervised sites. The rodents were a problem because of the closeness of the grain elevators.

In May 2008, Larry Mullen and Joan Harrison led a two-day session to train volunteers and town staff to be Master Composters. It was an opportunity to exchange information, tour backyard composting sites and the community garden area and to access potential large-scale sites. Wynyard has many gardening enthusiasts and a well-used community garden area.

The community gardenWynyard eventually chose a compost site in the town yards, near the community gardens. This allowed some supervision, was close to the major user of the compost and allowed access to water. Competing demands for staff time saw a relatively slow start to the program in 2008. More material was collected and processed in 2009. Wynyard has chosen to use a relatively low level of processing and incorporates much of the collected material into the community garden soil. This accomplishes the desired waste diversion and puts the material where the nutrients released help grow vegetables for local families. Some of the compost is also used for town projects. Congratulations to Wynyard town staff and citizens for restarting their yard waste diversion program.