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Eco-tip: Ventura County compost competition rewards and educates

A new, local environmental group is organizing a competition to promote composting and hoping the competition will become an annual event.

David Goldstein

Special to Ventura County Star

The Ventura County Compost Network, a group of local commercial composting businesses, gardening stores, nonprofits, farmers and others, recently launched the Ventura County Compost Cup to “help current composters, provide education for those interested in starting (composting)…and highlight high quality, locally made compost and mulch products,” according to David White, executive director of the Ojai-based Center for Regenerative Agriculture. (above text linked to VC Star article)

Monday at noon is the deadline to drop off compost samples for judging. To enter, fill out an entry form, available at, and include it in an envelope with a sample of your compost in sealed bag.

Your name should be written on each item, and samples should be at least a quart in size but able to fit into drop boxes’ 6-inch-by-12-inch deposit slots. A $5 donation is requested for each category entered.

Entry collection boxes are at the compost demonstration garden behind Ojai City Hall; Peach Hill Soils, 6001 East Los Angeles Ave., Moorpark; Agromin’s office, 201 Kinetic Drive, Oxnard; Green Thumb Nursery, 1899 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura; and Restore Ventura Community Orchard, at the corner of Poli and Chestnut streets.

Additional entry sites and program sponsors are noted at More information is also available by emailing

The competition features seven entry categories: commercial facility; agricultural compost; community gardens and schools; residential; vermicompost; anaerobic and fermentation; and open competition, allowing entries from outside Ventura County.

Judging of compost will be based on color, smell, crumb structure/tilth, biological richness and use of available materials. Judging will be Facebook livestreamed on April 23. Prizes include gift certificates and gardening products, including multiple $50 gift certificates for the top winner in each category.

Every entrant will receive a certificate for one free cubic yard of mulch made by either Peach Hill Soils or Agromin from locally recycled yard clippings. These companies also offer mulch and compost made from other materials, such as popular “gorilla hair” mulch made as a co-product of the northern California redwood timber industry’s lumber manufacturing operations, but mulch and compost made from locally recycled materials are the focus of the Compost Cup.

This focus comes as local cities and the County of Ventura work to comply with upcoming mandates set in 2016, with the passage of Senate Bill 1383, establishing a target of 75% reduction in landfilled organics by 2025.

The term “organics” includes anything capable of rotting, and organics are targeted because material rotting in landfills creates methane, which is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a climate changing gas, according to a 1996 assessment by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Composting not only controls the decomposition of organic material in ways designed to minimize methane emissions, it also recirculates nutrients back into soil, improves soil aeration, retains soil moisture, prevents erosion, and can suppress plant diseases, according to the web site of the U.S. Composting Council, a national nonprofit advocating for increased composting.

Ventura County Compost Cup organizer, permaculture design teacher and local recycling consultant Eric Werbalowsky noted, “The (Compost) Cup aims to recognize excellence in the (composting) craft and increase public understanding of compost quality and value.”

Compost Cup sponsors are hoping the promotion will encourage local homeowners and professional gardeners to buy the increasing amount of compost expected to be produced in response to the legislated mandates.

In another event, Sunday is the deadline for Ventura’s Office of Environmental Sustainability’s contest for city residents to send a photo or video, showing how they celebrate Earth Day or showcasing sustainable actions.

Enter by uploading images to the event website, Subject to availability, awards include reusable tumblers and reusable utensils. Additional contests will be offered through the office’s Facebook or Instagram pages, @SustainableVentura.

David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with Ventura County Public Works, may be reached at 805-658-4312 or

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