James Pinsky: Harvesting a barrel of monkeys

James Pinsky

Unless you’re a banana salesman, a barrel of monkeys may be more trouble than its worth. A barrel of rain water, however, can be quite useful.

Some great organizations including the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, the Town of Woodstock and the Virginia Cooperative Extension aren’t monkeying around when it comes to the idea of using rain barrels. The group of environmentally conscious community leaders is hosting a rain barrel workshop Oct. 22 at W.O Riley Park in Woodstock.

“Rain barrels help capture rainwater from your roof, which can be re-purposed to irrigate your garden and lawn. This helps mitigate storm water runoff, and it can help save you some money on your next water bill,” said Alison Sloop, a conservation specialist with the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.

Like a good game of Donkey Kong, the do-gooder’s putting on the October workshop have another kind of barrel for us too, this one being the equally environmentally beneficial composting barrel. What’s compost? Its decaying organic material used to help fertilize soil. Public disclaimer – I doubt any of the staff at the workshop will be hurling barrels at any of the students but D.C. traffic has been known to cause a temper tantrum or two these days.

But seriously folks, composting is no game and is one of the best ways to help household waste boost its self-esteem by being re-purposed into some very earth-friendly stuff.

According to our federal friends the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste  make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and I don’t know about you but in my house we have four senior dogs and me so anything we can do to have less gas – the better.

The Environmental Protection Agency adds that other benefits of composting are that it enriches the soil, helps retain moisture in the soil, suppress plant diseases and pests, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.

The two-part workshop kicks off at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at W. O. Riley Park in Woodstock and the cost of the workshop is $45 per barrel. Registration is required. To register and learn more about this workshop visit www.fnfsr.org, and bring your banana peels –  I hear they make great composting material.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact him at 540-465-2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org. Visit us at www.lfswcd.org or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/lfswcd.