Garbage to Garden

COMPOST, by Nathan Gorth, Supervisor, Jennings Road Compost Facility


Nathan Gorth, Supervisor, Jennings Road Compost Facility

The December Learning Lecture was presented by Nathan Gorth, Supervisor, Jennings Road Compost Facility, City of Modesto.  Explaining that most cities in the county participate through their local garbage pick-up service to recycle the green clippings, paper, and organic waste, in partnership with the Jennings Road Compost Facility.  The waste is chopped, watered, stirred and turned regularly for 6 months up to a year, rendering safe, ready for the garden organic compost.

The facility receives approximately 350 tons of residential-community yard (grass, brush, leaves & tree trimmings), paper and food waste each day.  The mixed material is chopped into small chips and placed into huge rows.  Water from deep agriculture wells is used to keep the heaps moistened, and huge equipment turns the compost to keep it well aerated.  The internal temperatures range from 132 – 150 degrees which kills weed seeds and harmful bacteria.  After 6-9 months, the finished product is screened to particles of less than 3/8 of an inch, and is ready for application.

Compost is an organic soil conditioner created by decomposing organic matter under controlled conditions.  Compost improves water-holding capacity of soil, improves soil structure, porosity, and bulk density to create a better plant root environment.  Compost is used as a soil amendment, turf topdressing, mulch, erosion control and growing media component.  Compost improves and stabilized the soil pH.  It reduces or can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.  Compost increases moisture infiltration and permeability of heavy soils to reduce erosion and water runoff.  It also improves the water-holding capacity to reduce water loss and leaching in sandy soils, which are prominent in the Ceres area.  By supplying beneficial micro-organisms to the soil, compost helps to remedy soils contaminated by hazardous waste, and  will remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals found in storm water runoff.

Safe to use in the garden, the compost should be mixed in equal parts with natural soil, and or sand.  Direct planting in concentrated compost may burn roots and kill tender plants.

Explaining the California Recycling Requirements which requires 50% of solid waste which would go into landfills to be diverted into renewable resource, the California goal is to have 75% of the solid waste generated be reduced, recycled or composted by the year 2020.

The local program to encourage backyard composting which is offered in workshops at the Modesto Junior College, includes not only instruction on compost techniques, but offers discount on the purchase of compost bins.  Ceres residents are encouraged to contact the City of Ceres at 538-5792 ( to inquire about backyard composting programs.

The Ceres Garden Club was VERY delighted to learn that as a non-profit, the compost is available for gardening projects FREE of charge.  As Mr Gorth explained, the compost is donated to schools for their youth gardens, and to other youth programs and community benefiting programs and non-profit groups for gardening uses.

The finished compost sells at the Jennings Road facility for: 1 cubic foot bag ($3.25), by the yard (1-3 yards @ $15.75/yrd) or (4-39 yards @ $8.25/yrd).  Over 40 yards is available for $6.33/yrd or $11.00/ton.  Wood chips/mulch is available at $10.00/yard.


  • bones
  • butter
  • cat litter
  • cat/dog feces
  • cheese
  • chicken
  • diapers
  • diseased plants
  • fish
  • greasy foods
  • invasive weeds
  • lard/meat
  • milk products/sour cream
  • oils
  • peanut butter/oil
  • salad dressing
  • unchopped woody waste
  • vegetable oil


This state-of-the-art compost facility meets the Organic Materials Review Institute , OMRI, for use in production of organic food and fiber; and is a member of the U.S. Composting Council.

us-composting-council                               omri


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