Author Archives: trivettj

So Close to a Million Plants We Can Almost Taste It

By Carl Elliott, SPP Conservation Nursery Manager

SPP’s Conservation Nursery continue to thrive at three facilities in Washington State: Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center for Women, and Shotwell’s Landing Nursery. Since 2010, we have delivered almost 1,000,000 plants for restoration and habitat enhancement projects on Puget lowland prairies— just 33,000 more plants and we’ll be there! In 2013 we provided 375,000 plugs for prairie projects (see the table below); this is a 14% increase over what we produced the year before. We achieved the increase by adding nursery capacity at Washington Corrections Center for Women, plus increased support from the dedicated prairie restoration crew from Cedar Creek Corrections Center.

This was the first season for nursery production at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). The crew of five inmate technicians carefully cultivated and shipped 80,000 native prairie plants. They were particularly success at growing blanket flower, Gaillardia aristata, a species that in past years showed low germination and growth rates. The warmer conditions in the propagation hoop houses at WCCW proved to be just the environment that allowed this species to thrive. The Conservation Nursery program benefits enormously from having a new site with an enthusiastic crew of technicians and staff.

WCCW Conservation Nursery Crew loading Gaillardia aristata to be delivered to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo by Bri Morningred.

WCCW Conservation Nursery Crew loading Gaillardia aristata to be delivered to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo by Bri Morningred.

SPP’s Conservation Nursery continues to be a highly collaborative effort. Regional coordination is provided by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM); they bring together managers responsible for prairie habitat to develop detailed restoration and habitat enhancement plans for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. The plants cultivated by SPP’s Conservation Nursery directly benefit the regional stakeholders such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wolfhaven International, and CNLM. This year we also increased the number of plants going to land managers of prairies in the northern portion of the Puget lowlands, Whidbey and the San Juan Islands; we hope to further those relationships in the future.

The delivery truck is almost full with 400 trays, a load of 39,000 plants. Photo by Bri Morningred

The delivery truck is almost full with 400 trays, a load of 39,000 plants. Photo by Bri Morningred

Though we came up just short of the magic number of 1,000,000 in the 2013, we feel confident that in 2014 we will blow right past that goal, and on to our next milestone!

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Americorps volunteers planting out SPP-grown plugs on the prairie at Glacial Heritage Reserve. Photo by CNLM staff.

Americorps volunteers planting out SPP-grown plugs on the prairie at Glacial Heritage Reserve. Photo by CNLM staff.

Photo Gallery from Roots of Success Graduation at Stafford Creek Corrections Center

by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

“The program is called Roots of Success, but it feels like the course is a seed planted in our minds.”

“We have a disposable planet and disposable people and we have got to change how we do things. The challenge doesn’t end here; we’ve got to make those changes in the wider society.”

“It’s a platform for giving back to the community.”

This is what I heard from inmate students and instructors who spoke about what they valued from participating in Roots of Success, an environmental literacy curriculum. It was a happy occasion at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC), celebrating the thirty-five graduates from two complete sessions of Roots. SCCC offered the class at maximum speed: three times a week for ten weeks, and again on the weekend to make up any missed modules; as SPP Liaison Chris Idso said, that’s just how SCCC likes to do things. That’s also what makes them a national leader in corrections’ sustainability programming.

Superintendent of Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) speaks to the graduating class from two sessions of Roots of Success.

Superintendent of Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) speaks to the graduating class from two sessions of Roots of Success.

 

At SCCC, Roots of Success has been taught by three inmate instructors. All three are veterans of the prison's Redemptions class, an inmate-led program on self awareness, positive thinking, and communication skills. All corrections staff and graduates present for graduation day sung their praises as Roots instructors, and the next session of Roots of Success is already fully enrolled.

At SCCC, Roots of Success is taught by three inmate instructors (from left to right: David DuHaime, Grady Mitchell, and Cyril Walrond). All three are veterans of the prison’s Redemptions class, an inmate-led program on self awareness, positive thinking, and communication skills. Corrections staff and graduates present for graduation day applauded their talents as Roots instructors, and the next session of Roots of Success is already fully enrolled.

 

One of the inmate-instructors speaks about what the curriculum and class experience meant to him.

Instructor Cyril Walrond speaks about what the curriculum and class experience meant to him.

 

The graduating class for Roots of Success.

The graduating class listens to a presentation from one of their peers.

 

Another of the inmate instructors addresses the graduating class.

Instructor Grady Mitchell addresses the graduating class.

 

The class watches the 2009 video on SPP, a gorgeous piece by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele that included video and many images from SCCC--including corrections staff who were in the room while it played. It was gratifying and surreal to watch it with an inmate audience.

The class watches the 2009 video on SPP, a gorgeous piece by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele that included video and many images from SCCC–including corrections staff who were in the room while it played. It was gratifying and surreal to watch it with an inmate audience.

 

Robert Aleksinski (or "Ski") is the staff member who has championed Roots of Success at SCCC. He volunteered to be a student in the first session of Roots, and was graduating along with the other 34 inmate students. His enthusiasm for the curriculum and the way they've offered it at SCCC was infectious.

Robert Aleksinski (“Ski”) is the staff member who has championed Roots of Success at SCCC. He volunteered to be a student in the first session of Roots, and was graduating along with the other 34 inmate students. His enthusiasm for the curriculum and the way they’ve offered it at SCCC is infectious.

 

Thirty five graduates of Roots of Success receive their certificates and handshakes from Mr. Aleksinski, the three inmate instructors, Superintendent Glebe, SPP Liaison Chris Idso, and SPP Conservation Nursery Coordinator for SCCC Drissia Ras.

Thirty five graduates of Roots of Success receive their certificates and handshakes from Mr. Aleksinski, Instructor Mitchell, Instructor Walrond, Instructor DuHaime, Superintendent Glebe, SPP Liaison Chris Idso, and SPP Conservation Nursery Coordinator for SCCC Drissia Ras.

 

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Be an SPP partner

It is the biggest week for giving in the United States. As you are opening your huge hearts, we ask you to choose SPP for your end-of-the-year donations.

Our core value is partnerships with multiple benefits, and we strive to maximize the positives for everyone involved. That includes you!

Participants of the first national meeting for SPP on tour at Cedar Creek Corrections Center; here they are visiting the Oregon spotted frog rearing program. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

Participants of the first national meeting for SPP on tour at Cedar Creek Corrections Center; here they are visiting the Oregon spotted frog rearing program. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

SPP programs have proven to be models of sustainability on multiple levels: socially, economically, and environmentally. The success of our programs has brought daily contacts from folks across the state, country, and around the world who want SPP programming where they live. We need more staff to help them get started—to develop and deliver trainings, help them find partners, and stay connected so that we can all learn from each other.

A dog trainer in the Prison Pet Partnership at Washington Corrections Center for Women shares a blissful moment with her trainee. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steel.

A dog trainer in the Prison Pet Partnership program at Washington Corrections Center for Women shares a blissful moment with her trainee. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele.

SPP is all about partnership, and we want you as a partner. Join us in bringing new educational and environmental programs to the incarcerated: you can help us raise frogs, grow vegetables for prison menus and food banks, train service dogs, and raise bees, and all while reducing our ecological footprint.

To donate to SPP, use this link. Thank you and have a wonderful new year. We will see you again in 2014!

SPP Graduate Research Assistant Brittany Gallagher helps an Oregon spotted frog take its first leap into the wild. Photo by Matthew Williams of the New York Times.

SPP Graduate Research Assistant Brittany Gallagher helps an Oregon spotted frog take its first leap into the wild. Photo by Matthew Williams of the New York Times.

The Smell of Hope

Written in November, 2012 by compost-technician and inmate at Cedar Creek Corrections Center

Deep within each human being there lies an enigmatic force, or power, if you will. This power lies dormant until activated by something unique to each individual. Children often have this force brought to life by their parents, a role model, or teacher. What is this spark that can change the course of a young life? What can motivate someone to fly to the moon? What can cause dreams to become reality? What can make an incarcerated person believe in a bright future? One word: HOPE! Unfortunately, this fuel of dreams is rare, to say the least, in the place where these words originate. You see, I write from behind the fences of a Correctional Facility. I am one of the truly fortunate ones, however, for this power I write of was brought to life in me by a visitor. The irony is that the person who instilled hope in me is most assuredly unaware of the gift they gave me. Let me explain.

During a tour of the SPP national conference, the author demonstrates sifting compost at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, September, 2012. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

During a tour of the SPP national conference, the author demonstrates sifting compost at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, September, 2012. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

I was invited to attend my first Live Green, Learn Green lecture at Stafford Creek Correction Center approximately four and a half years ago. Dr. Nadkarni from The Evergreen State College came to Stafford Creek to speak. I don’t remember much of the content of that first lecture, what I do remember was that the good Doctor brought pine bows with her and placed them at each table. While pine bows might seem a bit insignificant to people who are not incarcerated, their significance increases a hundred-fold if you have been living in a concrete house for a decade. I found myself inhaling the sweet fragrance of pine that took me back to a better time. I am a native of the Pacific Northwest, so of course pine has the smell of memories clothed in innocence and nature that have always held a special attraction for me. I still find it amazing that an odor can inspire, and a simple touch of something from nature can bring to life something in me that had lay dormant for far too long.

Another photo of the author from a tour of the SPP national conference in September, 2012. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

Another photo of the author from a tour of the SPP national conference in September, 2012. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

After that first lecture, I attended nearly thirty-six more lectures on various topics. I learned about butterflies, birds, bats, riparian areas, forest canopies, bears, salmon, and my absolute favorite, Apis mellifera (honey bees). The foregoing is not a comprehensive list, but a smattering of the gifts given to me by The Evergreen State College and the many fine people that brought the lecture series to the concrete habitat I lived in.

I don’t want to be misunderstood when I make this reference to concrete. I made my bed and I certainly must sleep in it. My point is that in prison there is a lack of things of nature. So, as I sat in the lectures, I became more and more interested and looked forward to the day when I could be actively involved in things green.

After approximately one year of attending the lecture, I was introduced to a young man by the name of Sam Hapke who was an entomologist from The Evergreen State College. Mr. Hapke taught me and several other inmates the wonderful art of beekeeping. I was previously afraid of bees, so it was with much trepidation that I forged ahead and gained an appreciation, no a love, for these wonderful and oh so necessary creatures. I studied the literature and paid close attention to Sam’s teaching and soon found myself as the sole inmate tasked with caring for the bees at Stafford Creek Correction Center. I love bees and plan to be actively involved with them in some capacity upon my eventual release.

Entomologist Sam Hapke from The Evergreen State College works with an inmate technician in the beekeeping programming at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo from 2009 by Benj Drummond.

Entomologist Sam Hapke from The Evergreen State College works with an inmate technician in the beekeeping programming at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo from 2009 by Benj Drummond.

I have left Stafford Creek and am now at Cedar Creek Correction Center, a minimum security camp. I am currently working in the garden and composting area of the camp and am actively involved with sustainability. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in several tours for the public, including people from Paris, New York, and Washington D.C., as well as many folks from the legislature here in the state of Washington. I don’t believe any of this would be possible had it not been for the sweet smell of that pine bow so long ago. Thanks Doc!

As the author says, smelling something green can be a rare delight for those incarcerated; this image from a 2012 lecture at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

As the author says, smelling something green can be a rare delight for those incarcerated; this image from a 2012 lecture at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who gave their time; that myself and others not only learned of sustainability, but actually felt like we could become contributors to our communities and the world as a whole. The future seems brighter than it has most of my life. I have a new found and lasting respect for this planet I live on. I understand more than ever that I am a steward charged with the care and sustainability of wherever my feet touch. I cannot go backwards for I am also tasked with sustaining the hope that was instilled in me.

Cedar Creek’s Roots of Success Graduation

By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

November4th, 2013, I had the pleasure of attending the first Roots of Success graduation ceremony at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC). Roots of Success is an environmental literacy curriculum recommended to us by Ohio corrections, and this year we are piloting the program at four corrections facilities: Correctional Industries, Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Washington State Penitentiary, and CCCC. Correctional Industries (CI) has funded and led program implementation. Special thanks to them, especially to Lucienne Banning and Michael Colwell of CI, for making the program possible.

Superintendent of CCCC, Douglas Cole, discusses the merits of Roots of Success with the graduating class. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Superintendent of CCCC, Douglas Cole, discusses the merits of Roots of Success with the graduating class. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

The ceremony took place in the visiting room, still abundantly decorated for Halloween. The ceremony began with Superintendent Douglas Cole asking the class what they had learned in Roots of Success. The inmates detailed their new knowledge, and also spoke of the general importance of environmental literacy. One said, “This class has taught me the language of right now.” Another felt similarly lucky; he smiled as he said, “I feel like I’m buying Microsoft stock in 1982.”

Two Roots graduates read a speech by Chief Seattle to the class. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Two Roots graduates read a speech by Chief Seattle to the class. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Two inmates from western Washington native tribes read a speech from Chief Seattle, and the reading was received with reverence and appreciation. One of the presenters said that he considered earlier technologies of this culture to be the “messier kind;” newer technologies, such as they had learned about in Roots of Success, are providing a way to connect back to nature.

A Roots graduate receives his congratulations from Superintendent Cole. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

A Roots graduate receives his congratulations from Superintendent Cole. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

One of the Roots graduates reads his graduation certificate. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

One of the Roots graduates reads his graduation certificate. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

The inmate students received their certificates to applause. We also acknowledged the two inmate instructors, and the SPP Graduate Research Assistant who has worked on Roots, Rachel Stendahl.

Guest speaker Aimee Christie from the Pacific Shellfish Institute describing CCCC's participation in a water quality improvement program in southern Puget Sound. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Guest speaker Aimee Christie from the Pacific Shellfish Institute describing CCCC’s participation in a water quality improvement program in southern Puget Sound. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Finally, a guest speaker, Aimee Christie from the Pacific Shellfish Institute, described how mussels are being used for nitrogen sequestration in southern Puget Sound. CCCC recently accepted about 2000 lbs of harvested mussels from the Institute and will process them in the prison’s new composting system.

Roots of Success 2013 graduating class at CCCC. The women on the left are both Roots instructors: Rita Reynoldson, a corrections staff member, and Lucienne Banning, Offender Workforce Development Specialist for CI. The woman on the right is Rachel Stendahl, the SPP Graduate Research Assistant  who has coordinated Roots for Washington Department of Corrections. Photo by CI staff.

Roots of Success 2013 graduating class at CCCC. The women on the left are both Roots instructors: Rita Reynoldson, a corrections staff member, and Lucienne Banning, Offender Workforce Development Specialist for CI. The woman on the right is Rachel Stendahl, the SPP Graduate Research Assistant who has coordinated Roots for Washington Department of Corrections. Photo by CI staff.

I missed the cake and ice cream, and still I can say it was a wonderful event! I look forward to many more Roots graduations to come.

 

SPP needs funding to sustain our education programming: to donate, please visit our page at the Evergreen Foundation.

 

The Wonders of In-Vessel Composting at Cedar Creek Corrections Center

By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

In the short time that Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) has had their new in-vessel composter operational, I have heard many great things about it. In early November, I had the chance to see the composter in action and be further thrilled by its capabilities.

The new in-vessel composter at CCCC. This is the back end of the drum, and finished compost is falling onto the conveyor ramp that takes it to a holding pile.

The new in-vessel composter at CCCC. This is the back end of the drum, and finished compost is falling onto the conveyor ramp that takes it to a holding pile.

The morning I visited they had added 1000 lbs of food waste to the front end of the drum. The drum’s rotation is sufficient to move the material along, so that if you looked at the drum in cross-section you would see the progression from fresh waste to finished compost along its length. Eric Heinitz, Environmental Specialist for Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC), showed me the metal markers used to ensure that inputs of material have a residence time of at least the 14 days; the first marker was dated and put in the drum 2 ½ weeks ago, and has not yet showed up in the finished product—a promising sign that the composter is working as it should.

Eric Heinitz, Environmental Specialist for WDOC, showing a metal marker used to determine compost's residence-time in the composting drum.

Eric Heinitz, Environmental Specialist for WDOC, showing a metal marker used to determine compost’s residence-time in the composting drum.

One of the inmate technicians has become especially proficient at operating and servicing the drum composter; he has been able to fix operational problems as they arise. The system’s manufacturer has requested that he get in touch with the business post-release, because they want to put his talents to work as an employee.

An inmate technician for CCCC's large-scale composting program was pleased to pose with the new machine.

An inmate technician for CCCC’s large-scale composting program was pleased to pose with the new machine.

Vermicomposting continues at CCCC’s small-scale composting area, a longtime highlight of SPP tours. With the new large-scale composter, plus their intensive recycling program, CCCC is cancelling its regular contract with the solid waste collector, Lemay, Inc. The prison is processing more than 95% of their solid waste on site!

Internship with SPP

By Erica Turnbull, SPP Summer Intern

Spending 11 weeks working in prison might not sound appealing to everyone but as a Rehabilitation and Social Justice major at Western Washington University, I could not have been more excited to be accepted by the SPP team as their summer intern.

Starting my internship with an overview of SPP, I was invited to visit and participate in programs at four prisons (Stafford Creek, Cedar Creek, Mission Creek, and Washington Corrections Center for Women). In time, most of my volunteer work took place at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) and Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC).

Inmates participating in the educational lecture held at SCCC. Photo by Erica Turnbull.

SCCC holds educational lecture once a month with guest speakers. At the lectures, inmates can learn about sustainability and have time for Q&A with the presenter. I made educational handouts for the inmates to take with them and helped do data entry to track program success and inmates’ environmental interest. Also at SCCC, SPP Graduate Research Assistant, Drissia Ras, and I worked in the greenhouses where inmates are growing endangered native prairie plants. Once a week we spent a day counting germination successes, controlling pests, and maintaining the plants as they transition through their life cycle.

At CCCC I took over the gardening project from Sophie Hart, a former SPP volunteer. I enjoyed tremendous help from recent Evergreen Environmental Studies graduate Katie Wolt. Together we helped the inmates compile seasonal crop lists, talked about the importance of crop rotation to replenish soil nutrients, and planted flowers with natural healing properties that double as pest controls by attracting natural predators to control the overabundant aphid population. Our biggest project was collaborating with the inmates to start amending the soil in the newly established orchard.

Vegetable garden at CCCC. Photo by Erica Turnbull.

Also I was invited by staff to participate in the Roots of Success program with SPP Graduate Research Assistant Rachel Stendahl and Correctional Industries’ Lucienne Guyot. It was great to see the gardening crews in a classroom setting where we could talk about job skills development and planning for re-entry.

I was also cordially invited to attend the Redemption Program; a safe place for inmates to share their past, set goals for the future, and help each other develop and achieve positive change within them.

Two inmates on the gardening crew at CCCC, taking a break from amending the soil in the prison’s orchard. Photo by Erica Turnbull.

I have noticed that a number of inmates are very passionate about self-betterment and helping others succeed as well. Several inmates have spent the majority of their adult lives in prison. From what I have observed, punishment t

hrough incarceration does not appear to have as much positive and lasting impact on inmates as programs, opportunities, and the encouragement of others. A positive and safe context allows inmates to understand how past actions led them to where they are now and what changes they can make to grow and move forward. Personal growth allows them to create productive goals and foster hope in themselves and others.

Developing trust through consistency is also important. Inmates needed to know they could rely on me to come when I said I would, order project supplies, etc. Spending just a few hours with the inmates every week lets them know someone cares and is as dedicated to the projects as they are. The inmates I worked with value interactions with people from outside the gates. They also value working outdoors with nature; I heard several inmates express the hope and tranquility it brings.

Roots of Success class at CCCC. Photo by Erica Turnbull.

From what I have noticed, SPP programs bring out a number of strengths in the inmates. Programs require and encourage responsibility, reliability, timeliness, communication, teamwork, and help foster patience which leads to calmer dispositions.

This is an amazing project! I have learned and grown so much through this experience. I want to thank my WWU supervisor, Charles Sylvester, as well as my SPP supervisor, Brittany Gallagher, for having patience. The whole SPP team flooded me with unending support throughout and beyond my internship. I would like to give a special thanks to Charlie Washburn, CCCC Programs Manager, Kim Govreau, CCCC Volunteer Coordinator, and Katie Wolt, SPP volunteer, for their knowledge, encouragement, and guidance. Lastly, a thank you to all the officers who never failed to maintain safety and keep a positive attitude!

Inmate with his son sitting in a firetruck at the CCCC’s children’s back to school fair. Photo provided by Kim Govreau.

I look forward to working in this field now more than ever and am excited to see what new programs SPP has in store!

 

Kittens at Shotwell’s

by Jaal Mann, Conservation Nursery Coordinator and Graduate Research Assistant

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A couple of weeks ago, a stray cat gave birth to six kittens at our Shotwell’s Landing nursery in the tool storage shed. The inmate crew that comes there to work from Cedar Creek Corrections Center immediately bonded with the kittens, and made sure they were socialized and healthy. We have found homes for all of the kittens and they will be in permanent homes at the end of the week. A happy ending for the kittens, and the inmates will be sad to see them go.

The experience with the kittens has served as a reminder of the positive impact that working with living things can have.

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2013’s Bumper Crop at Washington Corrections Center

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By Scott Knapp, Grounds & Nursery Services Specialist 5, Washington Corrections Center; photos by Scott Knapp and Don Carlstad

It has been a busy and productive gardening season here at Washington Corrections Center (WCC). We harvested over 20,000 lbs. of fresh garden bounty this year. The 180 tomato plants that we grew in one of our greenhouses produced well over 1,000 pounds of deliciousness! Half the bounty has gone to Mason County food banks, and half has stayed here to help reduce the prison’s food costs.

We rotated crops so that we could harvest all season long—no booms or busts. Our main crops were the staple-type veggies that everyone enjoys and the folks at the food banks, some with limited resources, can enjoy without having to prepare in a kitchen; these were broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, potatoes, radishes, carrots, onions, and beets. The 19 offenders that work the garden really enjoyed being a part of a record-breaking year for WCC’s gardens, and planning for next year’s crops is already underway.

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This year, all of our annual flowers grown from seed did exceptionally well. We added fresh compost from our new composting center (photo of the center in a recent blog) to all of our flower beds, and that made everything flourish. The color and size of some of them were incredible, and a lot of it is still looking extremely nice this late in the season. The color really brings life to an otherwise dreary venue. Preparing for planning next year’s annuals is already underway: we are sterilizing the greenhouses this week and starting to mix our secret recipe of potting soil. This is a very busy time of year for us here at WCC as we put the garden area to bed for the season and prepare for another great season next year.

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Happy Gardening!!!

A New Composting Facility for Cedar Creek Corrections Center

By Julie Vanneste, Environmental Planner, Sustainability Coordinator for WDOC

In August, Cedar Creek Corrections Center started using its new composting facility, marking the latest addition to the Department’s lineup of five large onsite composting facilities that manage food and other organic wastes, including kitchen waste, tray scrapings from dining areas and landscaping wastes. In addition to these likely waste streams, Cedar Creek also plans to begin composting bio-solids from the facility’s waste water treatment plant, much like Olympic Corrections Center has for the past 20 years.

These composting centers are a source of pride for the Department for Corrections and just one example of how sustainable operations are not only environmentally correct but fiscally responsible.

The composting facility at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, which is similar in capacity and design to Cedar Creek’s new facility, has saved Stafford Creek a calculated $30,000 per year. Their entire waste management system, which includes the compost unit, allows the facility an average annual savings of $200,000. Incorporating bio-solids with other organic wastes at Olympic Corrections Center saves tens of thousands of dollars each year through the ability to manage this waste stream onsite. Food and landscaping wastes adds still more savings.

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An offender technician works with the in-vessel composting system at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, easing the burden on our landfills and creating meaningful employment by providing  skills and educational opportunities for  offenders are additional bonuses of the composting and sustainability programs.

Cedar Creek’s new facility consists of a rotating drum, manufactured in Lynden, WA; four aerated static pile bays; and storage of the finished product. The rotating drum can receive an average of 3,000 pounds of organic waste daily. Compost removed from the drum is moved to an aerated static pile for three addition weeks, where it is closely monitored for pathogen reduction and curing. Once finished, the compost is safe for general use as a soil amendment.

Although Cedar Creek is a much smaller campus, managing approximately three tons per month of food waste as opposed to Stafford Creek’s average of 20 tons per month, the smaller forest camp has big plans for its new drum.

Although the equipment and its accompanying 7,000 sq. ft. building are new to Cedar Creek, composting is not. Home of the Department’s first food waste compost facility, Cedar Creek  has successfully managed all of its food waste  in a back-yard -style composting operation  for the past 10 years, cobbled together from salvaged material including ecology blocks and an old roof moved from another part of the campus. Costing virtually nothing to construct, staff and offenders, under the leadership of then-superintendent Dan Pacholke, began a project that almost immediately saved the Department $1.3 million in impending upgrades to the facility’s waste water treatment plant. Those upgrades were ultimately determined unnecessary after the facility demonstrated that the use of their new composting system eliminated such significant burden on the waste water treatment plant that additional capacity could be handled without improvements to the facility.

Now some 10 years later, composting again appears to be the more sustainable and cost-effective answer. Costly and increasingly scarce options to truck and manage the facility’s bio-solids off-site have been costing the Department $3,000 a month. The Department’s existing contract with LOTT, the local municipal waste water treatment facility, will expire in December 2013 with no favorable option to renew.

With this looming problem in mind, the compost facility was designed to receive these bio-solids and compost them in conjunction with other sources of organic waste from the facility and eventually with food waste from the Capital Campus in Olympia.

Although still awaiting regulatory approval of their of bio-solids permit from the Department of Ecology, there is goodwill and high hopes for this project from stakeholders, regulators, and potential partners alike. While there is no projected date for approval of the permit due to staff shortages at the Department of Ecology, DOC is working with Thurston County’s Solid Waste Program to secure approval for a solid waste permit with provision to accept bio-solids. If approved, Ecology may accept this county approval and thereby grant a provisional bio-solid permit while Ecology continues its permit review.  Meanwhile, Cedar Creek continues to process its food waste and plans the future use and partnerships of this badly needed regional resource.

Cedar Creek Corrections Center superintendent Doug Cole with the new compost barrel.

Superintendent Doug Cole and Project Manager Eric Heinitz with the rotating drum that begins the composting process at Cedar Creek Corrections Center.