Transcript Staff Writer

Black gold.

Norman tea.

Rich, black compost is ready for Norman's gardens -- with a release set for 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the City of Norman Compost Facility at 3450 S. Jenkins Ave.

There will be about 1,200 to 1,500 cubic yards available to the public.

The compost is free if residents load it themselves. If they get help from city staff, it's $10 per scoop, which translates to about 3 cubic yards of compost.

Norman was one of the first cities in Oklahoma to begin composting to reduce its waste stream in 1990, with several cities modeling their composting programs after Norman's.

Fort Sill is one of them. McAlester is another. And lots of other cities have studied Norman's program.

"I think we are kind of unique," said Scottie Williams, Norman utilities superintendent. "We are the only city in Olahoma that's doing what we're doing."

The city picks up yard waste each week, returns it to the compost facility and puts it through a tub grinder.

"If we have space, we put it in twin rows," said Steve Womack, Norman utiltiies supervisor.

City staff turns the compost to get oxygen into the mixture and help it decompose.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the City had kept more than 10 percent of Norman's waste out of the landfill.

In FY 2007, there were about 6,500 tons of leaves, limbs, grass clippings and other organic material brought in by city crews, 1,000 tons by the public and 1,900 tons by lawn and garden contractors for a total of about 9,400 tons, said Ken Komiske, Norman utilities director.

Compare that to the 92,000 tons of waste that went to the landfill last year.

The City has free compost releases whenever there is a new batch "cooked and ready," Komiske said.

Komiske said it takes about 100 to 120 days for the composted materials to break down to the rich, all-natural organic material that benefits Norman's gardens.

The Cleveland County Master Gardeners also take advantage of the compost release.

"They are big users of it," Womack said.

In past years, if there is any left, the City has made it available to the horticulturalists at the state Capitol and the Oklahoma State University horticultural extention in Oklahoma City.

"Fall -- it doesn't go out as fast as the spring," Womack said.

Carol Cole-Frowe

366-3538

ccole@normantranscript.com

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