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Summer 2016 Newsletter

Solana Center Newsletter

Update from our Executive Director:

This summer we are introducing our Less to Landfill program for organizations that generate food waste.  Solana Center works with restaurants, grocery stores, and school central kitchens to identify areas to prevent and minimize food waste.  The goal is to keep edible and compostable material out of the landfill by implementing simple steps, customized to each work environment.

With Less to Landfill, organizations can realize cost savings, ensure compliance with regulations, boost marketing, and reduce their environmental footprint.  Some progressive cities are even subsidizing the cost for their businesses.

I also want to give a special thanks to the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors for awarding Solana Center with a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant and for supporting our work in the San Diego region.

As always, let’s send “less to landfill”!

For more information on food waste, check out our Union Tribune Opinion piece.

Eco Container sponsored by Kashi

Eco Container Promotes Sustainability at the Fair and Beyond

We're excited to report that the Eco Container, sponsored by Kashi, is a hit at the San Diego County Fair! Located in the Infield Farm, the Eco Container has been popular with visitors and has been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune, Coast News, and Encinitas Advocate. And this is just the beginning for the Eco Container! As part of a partnership with the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Solana Center will offer year-round environmental education programming and workshops at the 40-foot-long repurposed shipping container.

The Eco Container hosted its first workshop, on vermicomposting, for employees of Solana Beach-based Kashi on June 13th, 2016. Solana Center educators taught Kashi employees how to divert food waste from the landfill through vermicomposting, how to care for their worm bin and how to use the castings to enrich the garden's soil at their company headquarters.

To host an educational workshop for your organization or business at the Eco Container, please contact Solana Center’s Director of Programs and Development, Jacqueline Prairie at

Thank you to our Eco Container sponsors!

Eco Container sponsor logos

Solana Center booth at the San Diego County Fair

Fair Booth Provides Composting Education and Resources

Volunteers answer composting questions and get people started on the path to zero waste at Solana Center's booth at the San Diego County Fair's Infield Farm, sponsored by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department!  The interactive booth offers composting demonstrations, information and resources, as well as volunteer-led family activities such as a seed planting bar and seed identification game. The booth is located right next to the Eco Container in the Infield Farm -- a wonderful place to bring the family to see thriving vegetable gardens, visit a butterfly garden, see a colony of bees in action, meet chickens and rabbits, and much more.

June 3rd - July 4th
Visit the Solana Center's Booth and Eco Container in the Infield Farm
San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar

Compost Day at the Fair

Join Solana Center on Tuesday, June 28th for Compost Day at the San Diego County Fair! Visit our Compost Day booth, funded by County of San Diego Recycling, in the Flower and Garden Show area at the main entrance to the Fair. We'll be offering a vermicomposting demonstration at 1:30 PM and a traditional compost demonstration at 2:30 PM.

"Less to Landfill" chopping greens

Less to Landfill Program

Solana Center can suggest simple steps customized for your business to ensure that you are in compliance with new state waste disposal laws. Program benefits include: cost savings, ensured compliance, marketing boost and environmental value.

The Less to Landfill program will:

  • Observe your space
  • Audit your waste stream
  • Design adjustments to minimize waste
  • Support roll out with training and signage

Visit our website and read more about how your business can benefit from Less to Landfill. For more information, contact our Zero Waste Coordinator, Mark DiMaggio at

volunteers at EcoFest

Toward Zero Waste Events

Community events generate tons of food waste and single-use items that are sent to landfills. Zero waste events reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere by organic material when buried in a landfill. They are also a powerful way to change the public’s perceptions about waste and make people more aware of their environmental impact.

Zero waste isn’t a measurement – it’s a goal and strategy of reuse, composting and recycling in order to minimize the waste sent to landfills. By striving for zero waste, organizations and businesses can show their commitment to sustainability, reduce their impact on the environment and conserve natural resources. The key to a zero waste event is careful planning so that all materials used are reusable, recyclable or compostable.

Zero Waste at Encinitas EcoFest
Organizers of Encinitas EcoFest reached out to Solana Center to help them create a zero waste strategy for their 10th annual environmental community event. With support from EDCO, Solana Center helped organizers with the planning and training of volunteers. Encinitas EcoFest took place on Sunday, May 15th at Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas and was attended by approximately 4,000 people.

Read more here.

volunteers at Bro-Am

Waste Diversion at Switchfoot Bro-AM on July 9th!

Solana Center and Switchfoot Bro-Am will join forces again on July 9 to divert waste from landfills!  Solana Center will be educating and coordinating volunteers. Help us have a huge impact on the event and all that will be attending by signing up to volunteer!

The 12th annual Switchfoot Bro-Am beach day will feature a surf contest, live music performances, and nerf surf jousting exposition between surf contest heats. This year's event will welcome back the 5th annual Rob Machado Bro Junior. Join us at this annual celebration that gives back to the community.

Solana Center booth with volunteers at EcoFest

Encinitas Partnership Reduces City’s Carbon Footprint and Educates Residents

Solana Center is well-known for the free composting workshops, funded by the City of Encinitas, that we provide for Encinitas residents. In addition to being your local experts on composting and building healthy soil, we’re partnering with the City of Encinitas on a number of exciting waste diversion initiatives. Read more here.

Eco Container with MIT alumna and Solana Center board and staff
Pictured left to right: MIT alumnus Dan Oliver, MIT alumna Lindsey Sheehan, Solana Center Board President, Joel Rabasco, Solana Center staff: Jacqueline Prairie, Ashley Marquez and Elaine Martin.

Composting Curriculum for Youth

Solana Center has received grant support from MIT alumni in San Diego to develop composting curriculum for youth that promotes academic and at-home interest in STEM disciplines. Through fun and hands-on educational programs for kids, we will support state academic standards in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics as well as environmental, health and social sciences. At the same time, we will encourage sustainable practices by families, schools and the community, and also promote implementation of crucial California laws concerning greenhouse gas emissions, waste diversion and recycling such as the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and Mandatory Organic Waste Recycling Law (AB 1826).

Solana Center Toast to Compost
Volunteer and Master Composter, Helen Bourne received the Golden Pitchfork for her service.

Toast to Compost

Solana Center held its annual Toast to Compost event on May 1st in Encinitas. A celebration and award ceremony, Toast to Compost recognized graduates of Solana Center’s Master Composter Course.

Solana Center has graduated over 700 Master Composters who have gone on to become composting ambassadors in their communities. Over 70 people attended the event and got the buzz on bees from Hilary Kearney of Girl Next Door Honey, this year’s featured speaker.

Solana Center’s Master Composter course is a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the composting process through hands-on activities and in-classroom learning. Stay tuned for our City of San Diego Master Composter course offered in the fall. Visit our website for more information.

A Special Thank You to our Toast to Compost Donors

Toast to Compost donor logos

a lot of bees

Rotline Question

Q: What do I do if there are bees in my compost bin?

A: Compost bins can be attractive to bees because they contain small dark gaps and compost can be sweet smelling. Bees are beneficial insects – they’re good pollinators, can aid your garden's growth and eat smaller insects that may otherwise harm your plants. However, you don’t want a hive taking up residence in your compost bin. If you encounter bees in your compost bin – here are some things to consider:

  • First, open the lid. How many bees do you see? If there are only a few, there may not be a problem.
  • Wait a day or two. If you have a swarm that has landed in your compost bin, they may just be there temporarily while they scout out a permanent place. They may move on in a day or two.
  • If you’ve found that bees have taken up residence in your compost bin, do not attempt to remove them yourself.
  • If you need to remove unwanted bees, please hire someone to do live removal, rather than extermination. Bees are endangered, stressed and essential to our agriculture. There are a number of companies in San Diego that will perform live bee relocation for a fee.
  • Here are a few local companies that we recommend: Girl Next Door Honey, James Bee Removal [(858) 750-5438] and Quentin Hive Savers Humane Bee Removal [(760) 897-HIVE]

For more information about these fascinating creatures, visit the San Diego Beekeeping Society.

Have a composting question? Call our Rotline at: (760) 436-7986 x700

Mid-scale Composting Workshops a Success

In June we offered a unique series of mid-scale composting workshops and fieldtrips, funded by the County of San Diego Recycling. It was a great opportunity to share information, build a mid-scale compost pile and see mid-scale composting in action! Thanks to everyone that participated. Visit our blog for information. 

Help Rethink Waste in San Diego County

waste in trash canThe County of San Diego’s Department of Public Works is seeking input from residents and businesses located in unincorporated San Diego County on strategies to increase residential and commercial recycling.

Attend an upcoming community input event, take the survey and get involved!

Upcoming community input events:

Monday, June 27, 2016
Businesses & Residents: 6 PM – 7 PM
County Operations Center Chambers
5520 Overland Ave.
San Diego 92123

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Businesses: 4 PM – 5 PM, Residents: 6 PM – 7 PM
4S Ranch Library
10433 Reserve Dr.
San Diego, CA 92127

Thursday, June 30, 2016
Businesses: 4 PM – 5 PM, Residents: 6 PM – 7 PM
Rancho San Diego Library
11555 Via Rancho
San Diego, El Cajon, CA 92019

Solana Center Volunteer Teri LeaVolunteer Spotlight

Solana Center Volunteer Teri Lea.           

How did you find Solana Center?
My husband and I saw the compost workshop at the botanical gardens and had been wanting to use our yard waste to enrich our soil, so we went to the introductory information presentation. I wanted to learn how more about the process so I signed up for the class. Not only did Diane and Jennifer do a great job, but a number of the class participants had previous experience and added ideas.  

What is your favorite type of composting?
I can't come up with a favorite composting technique. I like seeing the red wrigglers eat up the scraps that I give them, but it is also rewarding to see the temperature climb in my yard compost bins, and in the end I am rewarded with black soil filled with earthworms enriching it. I  like the idea of enriching our garden planter boxes with homemade compost and using our garden clippings and kitchen scraps to enrich the soil instead of putting it in a landfill. Having grown up on a small farm in Iowa, I learned to appreciate the harvests that we can reap from our earth if we take care of it. 

What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy growing my own vegetables and flowers, cooking, riding, yoga practice, and working with people who need a little help.

Join our community of people doing good things for the earth!  Learn more about our volunteer opportunities


Free Composting Workshops

Solana Center offers FREE 2-hour presentations where you will learn the basics of backyard composting and vermicomposting (composting with worms). Using trial-tested advice and interactive demonstrations, our expert educators will teach you all you need to know to get started with a bin that fits your needs and lifestyle. Held throughout San Diego, there is sure to be a workshop near you!

plant sculpture at the San Diego Botanic Garden

Free Composting Workshop in Encinitas

  • Saturday, July 9, 2016
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • Stay and enjoy this garden's incredible plant collection.
  • Funded by the City of Encinitas

Gilliam Family Community Space and GardenFree Composting Workshop in San Diego

  • Saturday, July 9, 2016
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Gilliam Family Community Space and Garden
  • This workshop will presented in English and Spanish.
  • Visit this unique outdoor space and garden in the heart of the Logan Heights neighborhood.
  • Funded by the City of San Diego

  • Saturday, August 13, 2016
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Ridgehaven Green Building
  • The Ridgehaven "Green Building" is home to the City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department and one of the nation's most energy efficient dwellings.
  • Funded by the City of San Diego

Free Composting Workshop in EncinitasRidgehaven Green Building

  • Saturday, August 20, 2016
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Weidners Gardens
  • Weidners is one of our favorite local Encinitas nurseries. Famous for their Begonias, they grow 90% of the gorgeous plants that they sell.
  • Funded by the City of Encinitas

Solana Center bin sales

We are Your Source for Compost Bins and Accessories!

Looking to start your own composting project? 
Solana Center sells both traditional and worm bins.  Even better, costs are subsidized for Encinitas residents. Unincorporated County and City of San Diego residents are able to get subsidized bins through a voucher program. More info here.

Need worms?
We sell red wigglers, coconut coir, food scrap containers, aerators and thermometers.

We are open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 AM-4 PM or by appointment.

Have a composting question? Call our Rotline at: (760) 436-7986 x700 or email us at

Special Thanks to Our Donors and Supporters!

Whether it is a donation of worms, tools or a financial contribution,
we appreciate all of our donors and supporters!

Help us empower students and adults to become environmental stewards in their communities!

This newsletter was made possible through generous support from