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Waste Not, Want Not

Golf Business
May 2011
By Jeff Barr

Composting is becoming an increasingly common practice in golf, as course operators seek to go green and produce rich fertilizer at the same time. But the management of Musket Ridge Golf Club in Myersville, Maryland, has taken composting in a completely different direction—they’ve gone Far East. The semi-private facility recently introduced Bokashi composting as a way to dispose of waste generated by its food-and-beverage operation.

Developed in Asian cultures, Bokashi composting uses fermentation rather than decomposition to break down food scraps in a 55-gallon drum before being released in a covered pile outside. The method, which utilizes a powdered mixture that contains a microbe to promote the fermentation, takes half as long as conventional composting and creates less odor. It also attracts fewer pests and animals, and produces a liquid fertilizer that Musket Ridge officials plan to use in a new organic vegetable and herb garden on the premises.

“We’re excited about it, but at the beginning we really couldn’t get our head around it,” admits Damon DeVito,” director of Affinity Management, which manages Musket Ridge. “We heard about this and it seemed to have some benefits, but there aren’t any golf courses on the East Coast using this method. We weren’t sure we wanted to be a pioneer.”

After getting past the initial apprehension, Musket Ridge officials bought into the idea. DeVito estimates the initial investment was less than $5,000, which paid for drums, hardware, rain barrels and the Bokashi powder. It also covered the traveling expenses of representatives of the Rock ’n Renew Foundation, a non-profit organization enlisted by Musket Ridge to provide expertise and oversee the Bokashi operation.

“Their management got it right away,” says Jonny Dubowsky, founder of Rock ‘n Renew.

In fact, Dubowsky is so confident in what Musket Ridge is trying to accomplish that he’s using the club’s Bokashi program to educate children at local schools and to garner interest from other businesses that might institute a Bokashi program of their own.

Of course, the real payback will come in the form of cost savings—something DeVito certainly expects, but admits isn’t yet possible to gauge. “I have no idea [what the savings will be],” says DeVito, who estimates that Musket Ridge produces between 2 to 4 tons of food waste annually. “But we’re doing something for the environment we weren’t doing before, and that can’t be a bad thing.”

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