Production Compost Piles

Ingest, Digest, and Rest

Decomposition is a natural process in which complex organic structures are broken down into basic chemical building blocks (usually by decomposers such as fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates) and one of the products of decomposition is rich, dark compost solids. The finished compost is added to our farm fields, to support the growth of all our tasty and nutritious fruits and vegetables! 

What is in front of you is a 3-Bin Compost System; the Farmers and Native Plant Nursery staff add larger organic matter and our Site Team regularly turns the compost, introducing oxygen into the decomposition process to support aerobic decomposition or “hot composting”. The rotating signs are switched to indicate what stage of the process each “bin” is, as they get mixed around.  



Just like a human mouth, this is where the fresh material comes IN to our composting system and starts to break down. Looking into this compost pile, you should be able to clearly identify the fresh material added (fruits, vegetables, whole plants, etc). The primary goal of this stage is to build up microbial communities. Common fungi and bacteria colonies are growing as more food gets added. The pile should also start to warm up as materials start to get broken down, and the decomposition process begins to speed up. 



Similar to our stomach and upper intestine, this pile is where the older compostable material really starts to break down. Some pieces of “fresh” organic matter are still visible, but it may be a bit harder to distinguish whole fruits, veggies, or plant parts. Fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates (such as worms!) are busy digesting material, and the compost will feel increasingly hotter. On cooler days, it may even be steaming! This stage is particularly important in organic farming because the heat levels should get high enough to “cook” weed seeds and any harmful pathogens. Oxbow’s Site team regularly measures the temperature of this pile, aiming to keep things cooking at around 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets too cool, turning the pile to add oxygen will help keep the decomposers active.  



What goes in the compost must come out- but in a transformed state! This pile should look like a uniformly fine, dark, rich compost. Temperature of the pile begins to drop as fungal, bacterial, and invertebrate digestion decreases. This compost is “resting” until farmers are happy with the color and texture and are ready to add to our fields and garden beds!