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By Gaelen Brown
I'm responding to Vance Sandretto's My View. I appreciate very much the points made and the story shared by Mr. Sandretto. I do think compost producers need to be good neighbors and that there's an opportunity for conflict resolution and prevention in all of this.
But we also have to answer these questions: Do we really want a working landscape with our fields and forests? Is there something better we can do with our food waste and manure aside from composting it? Should we dump it all in a lake or in a landfill, or burn it?
Growing up in Vermont and living surrounded by hay fields, our house was regularly inundated with disturbing odors from raw liquid manure being spread, with no legal recourse available since farms are exempt from Act 250.
Personally, I think we can do better and that's where compost comes in. If manure is composted before spread on fields, there's no odor on the fields and there are no runoff pollution issues, and we get better crop yields. This is the win-win-win scenario I referred to in my My View.
Since composting is the best approach to turning these "waste" materials into something of high value (healthy soil and energy), clearly we need to encourage and facilitate better methods of compost production and that's what I'm really hoping to draw attention to.
Clearly, we need to make some changes to how all of this works, to how we live and let live and to how we resolve and prevent these kinds of conflicts with neighbors of compost facilities.
As to the question of "Would I be glad to have a compost facility move next to my house?" the answer is yes, because I work in the field of developing and installing compost systems that are specifically designed to eliminate odors and capture energy.
How? I don't have space in this letter to explain it, but please review at www.CompostPower.org. These approaches create high-value compost without any offsite odors because air is drawn down into the material and into heat exchangers and bio-filters while capturing huge amounts of predictable thermal energy.
Mr. Sandretto, I hope you'll continue to be a good neighbor to the compost producer near you and see how you can help them move toward process improvements that will solve the issues you've been dealing with. Because if you don't and if compost producers are instead forced to shut down, Vermont's landfill capacity/odor issues (which you're also I'm sure worried about since you're also a neighbor to Moretown Landfill) are only going to get worse.
Gaelan Brown lives in Fayston.