In June this year, Minick Materials, of Oklahoma City, delivered 25 yards of fertile soil to the City of Guthrie, a testament to the old phrase “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. Why you might ask? Well the September 2013 weekend concert, Gentlemen of the Road, attracted an audience that peaked with over 30,000 music-goers whose post-consumer food waste and paper products were all composted. After decomposing for over 6 months, the material has broken down into fertile soil that will be offered to residents of the City for home gardening use and in designated parks. Guthrie is planning to educate the public about the origin of the soil to be used in various parks that will commemorate the event.
“As recent headlines in the news may indicate, the growing of local food is vital to the future of our cultures’ health. Before you can have local food, you need to find opportunities to build the soil and composting represents that opportunity,” said Master Gardener, and Mayor of Guthrie, Mark Spradlin who has helped to lead the Guthrie Community Garden. Mayor Spradlin added, “Due to the local composition of our dirt and the amount of clay it contains, it often makes for better cement than garden soil. Using an event like Gentlemen of the Road to stimulate the theory and practice of composting benefits the entire community, and future generations.”
Gentleman of the Road was recognized by The Metropolitan Environmental Trust, of Tulsa, as the 2013 Oklahoma Recycling & Composting Event of the Year. The festival recycled over 18.5 tons and composted over 5.5 tons of post consumer food waste and compostable paper products. The Festival of the Arts, an annual occurrence for Arts Council of Oklahoma City, now in its 48th year, has been working on a strategy to bring their operations towards a lighter impact. Initiating a compost plan for the 6-day event that draws over half a million people was the largest and final hurdle in the 5-year process. “The planners and implementers of Gentleman of the Road set an important and much needed precedent for events in Oklahoma. As we continue to attract large-scale concerts, conventions, and festivals, we must incorporate eco-friendly practices in order to protect and preserve our local environment ” said Angela Cozby, Director for the Festival of the Arts.
Not only is it good for the environment, composting is good for economics too. As composting draws broader mainstream awareness, Lynn Malley, an Extension Specialist with a focus on solid waste at Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agriculture Economics applauds the push by Gentlemen of the Road and the City of Guthrie to both recycle and compost. “The planning that went into the event that resulted in diverting 24 tons of waste from the landfill was amazing and multi-faceted. Diversion like this has to become routine as it is in many other cities. With the Festival of the Arts in OKC doing the same and with the opening of a new composting facility recently in Tulsa, Oklahoma is recognizing the opportunity and moving in that direction,” said Malley.