Vermont Farm to Plate On-Farm Food Scrap Composting Guide

Are you interested in learning more about on-farm food scrap composting? For any farmer, there are many considerations when exploring a new project including cost, regulations, and how any changes fit into their farm’s current practices. Recognizing both the benefits and challenges of navigating this process, Farm to Plate’s Food Cycle Community of Practice has developed a new resource for farmers looking to expand on-farm food scrap composting in collaboration with their local community. This guide aims to clarify the regulatory landscape for both organic and conventional farms and lays out potential options for community-oriented solutions to close regional gaps in the composting infrastructure currently available in Vermont. It also aims to encourage connections between small farms and composting entrepreneurs to residents, schools, food shelves, grocery stores, restaurants, and other organizations to manage food scraps and nutrients locally.  

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) came into full effect in July 2020, effectively banning food scraps from the landfill. Food scraps are among the few materials that can be “recycled” locally, thereby maintaining this valuable resource within a community and for community use. Partnerships between farms and local businesses, schools and individuals provides benefits at both ends; farmers can improve their soil quality and the community can safely and legally dispose of food and other categories of compostable waste. Successful composting partnerships require both education and oversight as Black Dirt Farm describes: “We see these challenges as an exciting opportunity to build greater literacy across our community about how to steward resources and organize ourselves in more effective community-scale systems.” 

In addition to regulatory information, this resource guides farmers through: 1) composting budget and business plans; 2) different composting systems; and 3) connecting with the community through education and outreach. Find details and the guide on the Vermont Food Cycle website!