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Fall 2017 Newsletter

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Update from our Executive Director

I’m excited about the innovative programs Solana Center is initiating and proud of how we remain true to our mission to mobilize the local community to address our region’s most pressing environmental issues. 

Food waste is a trending topic in the US right now, with summits across the country, and greater understanding of the cost of surplus food. Did you know that 31% of the available food supply in the US goes uneaten? Our initiatives on this front include:

  • We are just wrapping up our Healthy Soils Program workshops, encouraging “carbon farming” practices in our region to pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Check out this KPBS article to learn more about the Healthy Soils Initiative.

  • Our Mid-Scale Composting Demo Center, was visited by solid waste professionals from around the state in August.

  • We're starting a community composting drop-off program at the Center, having recently received County approval. Stop by or give us a call to learn how you can be part of our pilot program, and begin diverting your food scraps from the landfill.

Resource conservation and recycling are ever-important at Solana Center:

  • We are kicking off the new “winter” season with the return of our popular rain barrel sales program.

  • Our electronic and universal waste drop-off programs, in partnership with the City of Encinitas and Urban Corps, are expanding rapidly. Stay tuned for more information about our free e-waste pick-up program for Encinitas businesses.

As an indication of the growing awareness of environmental issues, we had approximately 6,000 visitors to our Eco Learning Lab at the San Diego County Fair! The Eco Learning Lab was even featured in a KPBS Evening Edition segment.


Get Rain Barrels for ONLY $55 After Rebate!

Get 50-gallon rain barrels at the discounted price of $90 (retail price is $129). After rebate, you pay only $55 (that's a 40% saving).

For a limited time, pre-order rain barrels for pick up at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon on November 4th. We're also restarting our rain barrel sales for pick up at Solana Center.

We provide everything you need to set your rain barrel up at home, as well as help to get your rebate. Harvesting rainwater in rain barrels is an excellent way to reduce potable water used in landscape maintenance and to prevent polluted runoff from entering our local waterways.


1. Order online by selecting your pick up location and then click “Buy Now”
2. Apply for your $35 rebate at SoCalWaterSmart
3. Pick up your PRE-ORDERED barrels at one of our two locations in El Cajon and Encinitas.

Composting Livestock Manure

Horses, rabbits, and goats; oh my! All that manure attracting those flies! Improperly dealt with manure not only attracts  flies, it is also a major cause of storm water pollution. Runoff from manure contains high concentrations of pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Manure is also high in nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. In waterways, these nutrients cause algal blooms and degrade water quality, but in our compost pile, they can do wonders!

The ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio in a compost pile is approximately 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen (30:1). For example, chicken manure is 7:1, cow manure is 18:1, and horse manure is 25:1. In comparison, straw is 75:1 and sawdust is 511:1. Manure is considered high in nitrogen (a "green" in compost-speak) whereas something like straw and sawdust are considered high in carbon (a "brown" in compost-speak). Mix browns and greens with some water and air and presto! You've got compost! (Well, maybe it doesn't happen that quickly...)

If manure is being used in a compost pile, it is important that a ditch or berm is placed around the pile and the pile is located at least 150 feet away from drainages, ponds and wells to prevent polluted runoff.

To learn more about composting manure, attend our Manure Management Compost Workshop.

Manure Management Compost Workshop in San Marcos
Saturday, November 4, 2017
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Pathfinder Farm

The Manure Management and Composting Workshop shows you how to use traditional composting methods, as well as the particulars associated with composting manure on-site.



Master Composters Dig Deep!

Master Composter Course - City of Encinitas

Tuesdays, October 5 - November 2, 2017 (5-week course)
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Cardiff Elementary School, Encinitas
Free for Encinitas residents
Non-residents get a 2-for-1 discount (2 attendees for the price of one!)


All About Worms Workshop in Encinitas

October 7, 2017
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
San Diego Botanic Gardens

Garden entry fees are waived for registrants. Feel free to tour this Encinitas gem!


Backyard Composting Workshop in Fallbrook

Saturday, October 21, 2017
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM 
Grangetto's Farm & Garden Supply

Spend a morning learning about a compost system to fit your lifestyle and spend your afternoon shopping for your fall garden needs at this family-owned business.


Composting & Bokashi Workshop in San Diego

Saturday, October 28, 2017
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Tecolote Nature Center

Learn how to reduce waste with composting and bokashi fermentation. Start your day with a nature hike at 8 AM!


Composting & Intro to Bokashi Workshop in Lakeside

Saturday, November 11, 2017
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Lakeside's River Park Conservancy

After getting inspired to start composting, go for a stroll along the San Diego River trail.



Volunteer Spotlight: Marie Struttmann

Marie Struttmann became a certified Encinitas Master Composter in the spring and has been a steady volunteer since the moment she registered! 

How did you find Solana Center and start volunteering with us?

My first recollection of visiting Solana Center site was when I moved here more than 20 years ago. My husband and I dropped off cardboard boxes from the move, so they could be recycled. Then for our anniversary about 10 years ago, my husband gave me a composting bin which he purchased from Solana Center.  He wrapped it and had it in the living room on the day of our anniversary.  It was a surprise and I was thrilled. In turn, I gave him a pitch fork. I first became a volunteer about a year ago, supporting an event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It was there that I learned about the Master Composter course, which connected me to more volunteer opportunities.




Rotline Question

How do you save your worm bins from aggressive ants? To find the answer, we asked our summer college interns, Maddie Ergastolo and Kelly Bernd, to investigate. The worm bins at Solana Center recently experienced an increase in ant populations, possibly due to the decomposing food source and the moisture the bins provide. Although most species of ants will not harm the worms (other than depleting the worms’ food source), the ants in our worm bins were aggressive, and ended up killing some of our worms. We researched a few options for discouraging the ants from getting into our bins and decided to test the different methods. The various methods primarily revolved around reducing access, using either vaseline, diatomaceous earth, or a water moat. The other method involved using a bait trap that was safe for humans. 



Join Our Team!

We have open positions available for an Environmental Educator and an Environmental Educator Assistant. Email your resume to or share with anyone who may be interested!

For more info visit our website

If you have attended a workshop, enjoy receiving this newsletter and support composting, recycling, food waste recovery and protection of our region's precious resources, please consider making a donation to support our environmental work in the community. Even the smallest donation makes a significant difference!

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Thank You to Our Sponsors & Donors

Eco Learning Lab sponsors:

Other Grants & Donors:

This newsletter is possible through generous support from:

City of San Diego Environmental Services  City of Encinitas