New Sarasota County UF/IFAS program encouraging residents to compost home waste

Public has option to purchase starter composting bin at county cost when attending a workshop

Randy Penn (center, blue shirt), waste reduction agent with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, leads a home composting workshop. Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

A new Sarasota County program is offering residents the opportunity to learn how to compost home food waste and to purchase a starter composting bin at cost, county staff has announced.

Scheduled monthly at locations across the county, Let’s Make Some Black Gold workshops will educate participants on the basics and benefits of composting, “including reducing the amount of waste generated while creating landscape-friendly mulch and other composting byproducts,” a news release explains.

Mirroring the county’s highly popular Rain Barrel Workshop series — which teaches residents how to collect rainwater and sells barrels to the public at the county’s cost — the composting workshops will offer attendees the option to purchase a GEOBIN-brand composting bin for the $25 cost to the county, the release points out. Bin purchase is not required of attendees, however, the release says.

“The composting workshops are a great introduction for anyone looking to get started with home composting,” said Randy Penn, workshop coordinator and waste reduction agent with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Program in Sarasota County, in the release. “They’re also a great way to help reduce the amount of food and yard waste we dispose of in landfills.”

Each year, Sarasota County residents and businesses send more than 275,000 tons of waste to landfills, according to data gathered by the county, the release notes. “Almost a quarter of that is food waste, yard clippings, paper scraps and other organic material that could be composted,” the release says.

Only about 2% of food waste is composted, according to federal records, the release continues. However, the average Sarasota County household could compost 220 pounds of food waste each year, “simply by following techniques and tips” highlighted in a 90-minute Let’s Make Some Black Gold workshop, the release adds.

County leaders have been helping households reduce their water use through the rain barrel program, which was launched in 2009, the release continues. Since then, residents have bought more 3,200 rain barrels, which have the potential to capture more than 176,000 gallons of stormwater with each rain event, the release notes. “That captured water then is used instead of potable water for irrigation needs.”

A person may register for a Let’s Make Some Black Gold workshop by visiting or calling 861-5000.