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Composting Grads
Thanks to a partnership and custom training by Mecklenburg County, 15 students have earned a special certification.



Charlotte, N.C. – For years, Mecklenburg County's Waste Reduction Program has planted the seeds for organic gardening and composting with its Piedmont Landscaping and Naturescaping Training (PLANT) program, teaching residents a variety of techniques including water conservation, soil stewardship, grasscycling and vermicomposting.

PLANT and its accompanying master composting program (MCPLANT) are now digging deeper into the community. A partnership with Friendship Trays and the Community Culinary School of Charlotte is cultivating organic gardening skills among residents who have traditionally had trouble securing employment.

On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 15 culinary students earned composting certification after completing a specially tailored County program that covered composting, sustainable gardening and waste reduction.

Students planted a variety of fresh vegetables in the Friendship Garden, located just behind the culinary school at 2401-A Distribution Street, Charlotte. They also captured rainwater and enriched the garden's soil through worm composting, also known as vermicomposting.

Graduates of the Community Culinary School find work in local restaurants, hospital cafes, country clubs and assisted living facilities. The organic gardening skills they learned during the three-month session better prepared them for a career in the culinary arts, said E. Nadine Ford, senior environmental specialist for Solid Waste Services. Ford was coinstructor of the course alongside garden coordinator Henry Owen.

"It turned out to be a great success," Ford said. "The students learned skills they would have never otherwise learned."

The PLANT program also indirectly benefited Friendship Trays, a nonprofit organization that delivers more than 600 nutritious meals per day to elderly or disabled residents who would otherwise have difficulty arranging for their own meals. Culinary students help the Friendship Trays kitchen staff members prepare the meals that are delivered each day.

To learn more about the PLANT program and other County waste-reduction education efforts, go to


Media contact: Michelle Moriarity Witt, 704-432-0361 or

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