by AVIVA LUTTRELL, Recorder Staff
Paul Franz photo
On a recent morning, Northfield resident Steve Roberto took two yellow pails from his trunk, surveyed the contents, and emptied them into a dumpster at the Northfield Transfer Station.
The containers were full of leftover food, including fruit, cabbage, broccoli, ginger — even a hot dog — which would soon find a new purpose as compost, a key ingredient in organic farming.
Roberto brings his food waste to the transfer station two or three times a month, where it’s picked up by Triple T Trucking and brought to Martin’s Farm in Greenfield. In about four months, Roberto will be able to buy the finished product to use on his own farm in Northfield.
“I think composting is a great thing to do,” he said. “It’s a great program.”
Northfield is one of seven towns in Franklin County that offers free municipal composting to residents. Most transfer stations charge to take trash, but compostables and recyclables have value, so towns typically don’t charge for those materials.
“Trash disposal is very expensive in this region, so whatever we can save from the trash and instead compost or recycle, we’re saving the town money, we’re saving ourselves money and we’re saving space in landfills,” said Amy Donovan, program director of the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District.
In addition to Northfield, Greenfield, Whately, Leverett, New Salem, Orange and Wendell also offer municipal composting programs. Whately pioneered the idea in 2003 as the first town in Massachusetts to offer municipal composting.