Saturday, February 25, 2023

Town of Newcomb gifted new, high flow drum composter

CfG’s John Culpepper and a representative from Agriculture product manufacturer Mud Lake Stalls.

AdkAction and the Compost for Good (CfG) team are thrilled to announce that they have selected the Town of Newcomb as the recipient of a high flow drum composter as part of a USDA Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG). Newcomb was selected upon recommendation from a local advisory committee through a competitive application process based on the Town’s long standing interest in community scale composting, its strong collaborative team, and the educational opportunities it will provide.

The RBDG grant was awarded to CfG and AdkAction in 2021 to promote community scale compost business development in the North Country, including manufacturing, food scrap hauling, compost sales, retail, and more. The 20’x4’ drum composter was designed by CfG’s cofounder, John Culpepper, and is capable of transforming several hundred pounds of food scraps per week into rich soil. There are four community scale drum composters currently in the North Country, and Newcomb, receiving the 5th unit, is the first community-led, community scale initiative.

The composter functions when food scraps and other important feedstocks are fed into an opening on one side of the drum, and after 14-28 days, they exit the drum as nearly finished compost with billions of microbes and fungal bodies doing the hard work of decomposition in between. These community scale composters have diverted hundreds of tons of food waste from landfills in the North Country, and have created thousands of cubic yards of nutrient rich compost. The composter’s design is freely available to anyone with machine shop experience and tools to replicate and can be found on AdkAction’s Compost for Good website.

Increasing the number of North Country manufacturers building composting equipment is an additional important goal of this grant, and Mud Lake Stalls of DePeyster was selected to build this unit, with hopes to sell more in the future as demand grows.

CfG’s John Culpepper inspects the newly manufactured system.

CfG’s John Culpepper inspects the newly-manufactured system. Photo provided by Hannah Grall, Project Coordinator, AdkAction.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have supported another manufacturer and another community in the region with this fifth community composter, thanks to the support of the Rural Business Development program,” said Sawyer Cresap, Executive Director of AdkAction. “The Town of Newcomb will be a tremendous host site, advancing their commitment to sustainability and education, while saving Newcomb residents and businesses money, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating rich soil in the process.”

“We are proud to have partnered with AdkAction as they work to promote, educate and assist operators, haulers and farmers in the North Country,” New York State Director for USDA Rural Development Brian Murray said. “Community-scale projects – like Compost for Good – afford invaluable opportunities for businesses to develop partnership networks, improve our environment and inform the community on the benefits of organic recycling.”

“Newcomb had all of the criteria we were looking for when selecting a site host for the composter: educational opportunities, deeply embedded partnerships, a track record of successful and innovative projects, strong interest in composting, but most importantly was an obvious commitment to and love of the Town of Newcomb and all who live there. We have no doubt that Newcomb will use this opportunity to improve the quality of life for its residents.” said CfG project manager Jennifer Perry.

“The Town of Newcomb greatly appreciates being the successful applicant, and having this unit be the catalyst for launching our community-scale composting initiative. Newcomb is excited to demonstrate and be a model for the creative approaches rural communities can take to increase sustainability,and offer enormous community and fiscal benefits to our residents” said Town Supervisor Robin DeLoria.

Paul Hai, who works to advance and implement Strategic Initiatives for the Town of Newcomb said “This is a goal we established in our 2022 Comprehensive Plan, and we are thankful AdkAction and CfG are helping us turn that vision into reality.”

The Town of Newcomb’s vision includes a close collaboration with the Newcomb Central School District (NCSD) and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Students and faculty from both schools will be engaged in design, operation, data collection and public communication efforts associated with the composting initiative.

Mr Hai is also the Associate Director of ESF’s Newcomb Campus. “This initiative is a fantastic multi- and inter-disciplinary opportunity for students at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels to have hands-on real-world projects, and to interact with and learn from peers, near-peers and professionals while helping to build sustainable systems at a community scale” Hai added

Agriculture product manufacturer Mud Lake Stalls from Depeyster, NY sign

Agriculture product manufacturer Mud Lake Stalls from Depeyster, NY was selected to build Newcomb’s composter. Photo provided by Hannah Grall, Project Coordinator, AdkAction.

ESF’s Newcomb campus hosts classes from ESF and other colleges and secondary schools from across the state and northeast, and will use the community composting initiative for  education and research demonstration with visiting groups. “As a partnership, we are really looking forward to how this entire initiative will enrich and expand the educational and research opportunities to students and instructors” said Associate Professor Doug Daley, PE., whose Environmental Resource Engineering students worked with the Town of Newcomb to develop a feasibility study and design facility plans between August of 2020 and May of 2021.

The Town of Newcomb intends to have the composter operational by April 1, beginning with feedstocks from local businesses, including NCSD and ESF, as well as two important food service establishments in Newcomb, the Lake Harris Lodge and the Newcomb Café.  Residents will be invited to begin supplying their food scraps shortly later, once the microbes are acclimated to their new home and smoothly turning food waste into compost.

The unit will be located at the Town’s existing transfer station, making residential drop-off easy and convenient, as well pick-up of finished compost.  Over the next 12 weeks Newcomb will build an enclosure for the composter, develop community communications and guidelines, and train staff, volunteers and students to safely and properly operate the composter.

For more information about community scale composting, and to be considered for the next drum composter give away, contact today.

AdkAction is a member-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is to create projects that address unmet needs, promote vibrant communities, and preserve the natural beauty of the Adirondacks for all. The goal of the Compost for Good project is to help communities turn food and other organic wastes into high quality compost. Learn more at

CfG is a group of three individuals who are committed to “Reimagining Waste.”  Our vision is a world in which humans positively impact the Earth and its communities by valuing organic waste as a resource. Our mission is to support communities to adopt economically viable and ecologically resilient composting systems and processes through education, outreach, technical support, peer to peer connections, and research.

Photo at top: CfG’s John Culpepper and a representative from agriculture product manufacturer Mud Lake Stalls. Photo provided by Hannah Grall, Project Coordinator, AdkAction.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

3 Responses

  1. nathan says:

    just compost by the garden in back of the house. been composting since grandpa in the 50’s. grandpa grew up with victory garden and the depression, waste nothing and grow as much food as you can. We learned much from “Teddy” Friend

  2. Ruth says:

    Wonderful article! Keep these coming!

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