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Spring 2017 Newsletter

Solana Center Newsletter

Update from our Executive Director:

I am proud to announce the opening of the Eco Learning Lab, powered by Solana Center. In partnership with the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the site will be a hub of activity with the Eco Container displaying sustainable living features and the Composting Demo & Training Center showcasing all kinds of composting methods. The week leading up to Earth Day, we are taking over EcoScraps’ Instagram account. We’ll be sharing a sneak peak of the Eco Learning Lab in action as well as giving away a handful of worms! Make sure you follow us on Instagram.

We are already receiving requests for tours and on-site training at the Eco Learning Lab from around the local region as well as across California. Our next event will be the Aerated Static Piles: Solutions for Organic Waste Diversion presentation on April 9th.

We have been busy this quarter facilitating Zero Waste activities at business parks, food rescue organizations, restaurants, and public events, enabling diversion capabilities of up to 97%.

We have sold over 4,000 rain barrels throughout the region, allowing residents and small businesses to collectively capture more than 250,000 gallons of rainwater! We love the video created by our partners at Rain Water Solutions. This effort was made possible by support from the County of San Diego Watershed Protection Program and the San Diego County Water Authority.

Our Saturday hours have been very popular. Come get your composting supplies and rain barrels or drop off e-waste, fluorescent bulbs, and used batteries!

Get involved – volunteer, take a class, become a sponsor!


Solana Center's Eco Container, sponsored by Kashi, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

Introducing the New Eco Learning Lab!

Eco Learning Lab powered by Solana Center logoSpring is coming, flowers are blooming, plants are growing, and so is our Eco Learning Lab! The Eco Learning Lab encompasses the new Composting Demo & Training Center as well as last year’s Eco Container. Located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, our new facilities provide extensive education opportunities to expand the community’s composting knowledge. Our first tour of the Eco Learning Lab on March 14 hosted 55 city planners from around the county, sending our new facility off to a fantastic start!


ASP: Take Your Composting to the Next Level!

If you want to start a communal compost pile in your HOA, at your restaurant or hotel, or in your community garden, or even at your office building, read more in our blog and keep an eye on our upcoming events at the Eco Learning Lab!

On April 9th, we will be facilitating the Aerated Static Piles (ASP) presentation with Peter Moon from O2Compost.

Click here for registration and event details. We hope to see you there!


Upcoming Events

Sunday, April 23rd, 10 AM - 5 PM: Visit our booth at the Earth Fair in Balboa Park!

Sunday, May 7th, 1 - 3 PM: Free Composting Workshop in Rancho Bernardo at the Ed Brown Center

Saturday – Sunday, May 20th- 21st, 9 AM - 9 PM: Visit our booth at Fiesta Del Sol in Solana Beach!


Volunteer Spotlight: John Sielaff

Solana Center volunteer John Sielaff at a beach with mountains

John Sielaff discovered Solana Center when he happened upon our booth at the San Diego County Fair. He decided to sign up for emails, and ended up signing up for a Master Composter course, wanting to learn about composting and find out for himself whether or not his father’s composting skills had been up to par!

John graduated from the Carlsbad Master Composter Class of 2014, and has been a passionate and active volunteer over the years. He quickly developed a particular fondness for vermicomposting, and has frequently helped care for and harvest worms at our office. John has volunteered at countless school visits, festivals, and Master Composter events, and has always been a reliable and patient volunteer, even when our van ran out of gas in the middle of a hot and sunny afternoon!

In his free time, you’ll find John outside, whether he’s riding his hybrid bike, spending time on the beach, or simply relaxing in the fresh air. You may also find him enjoying baseball games, traveling, taking photos, and spending time with friends.

Would you like to join our family of volunteers? Email Jackie Bookstein, our Volunteer Coordinator, at, and visit our volunteer page to learn about our many volunteer opportunities.


ROTLINE Question: Flies, Flies, Go Away!

There are huge amounts of flies that come out of my tumbler compost bin when I open it, which I think I read means there are too many greens.  How do I find the right balance? We don't have grass or leaves in our yard to add to the bin so we've added shredded newspaper.  I am not sure what else to do or where to look. 

Tumblers are a great way to compost if you want to avoid shoveling and scooping in order to turn and aerate your compost piles. However, they can also be tough to manage and heavy to rotate. Their above-ground location also precludes macro-decomposers, such as worms and sawbugs, from venturing in and aiding with the decomposition process. In general, you need to cover any green waste with browns in order to keep the flies away. However, you can't keep the greens covered very well if you're tumbling the bin! The best strategy in this situation is to be sure the contents of your tumbler don’t get too wet. If you find your compost becoming too wet, be sure to add more browns to counteract the moisture. Additionally, tumble your bin frequently, even up to a couple times per day if you have the time! Our experience is that frequent tumbling speeds up the composting process, and may very well discourage the flies from congregating in your bin!


Making the State of Encinitas Zero-Waste!

The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the City of Encinitas, held their annual State of the City Address on Tuesday, March 28th. Open to the public, this annual event is designed to share current news from the City of Encinitas with the community and offer time to socialize and network. This year, Solana Center was invited to help make this an environmentally-sustainable event, in an effort to achieve zero waste at the State of the City! At the event, hors d’oeuvres were served from 15 different local restaurants. We monitored waste at the event, made sure food scraps, recycling, and trash were sorted correctly, educated event attendees on waste reduction, and tabulated the total diversion for the event. Overall, we achieved a 92% diversion from landfill rate! Stay tuned for more details.

Are you holding an event and looking for someone to help sort waste and educate attendees? Contact Abby Wattierrez, Zero Waste Coordinator, at, or call (760) 436-7986 ex. 701.

Celebrating Earth Day with local businesses!

In addition to having a booth at Balboa Park’s Earth Day event, we are delighted to be providing sustainability workshops for the following businesses, in celebration of Earth Day!

  • Perfect Bar
  • Genentech
  • Illumina
  • John Hancock/QuintilesIMS

Attention Aspiring Compost Experts!

By the end of June, nearly 90 new Master Composter graduates will emerge into the community, serving as composting ambassadors! With their new knowledge and skills, these individuals will be experts on building, maintaining, harvesting, and troubleshooting compost piles. Join the composting movement and become a Master Composter! Our Master Composter series consists of five classes, held once a week, as well as 30 hours of related volunteer hours, whether at events, at our school visits, or helping maintain our on-site facilities. This course provides attendees with hands-on learning through building, troubleshooting, and maintaining a team-built compost bin, as well as lessons on how to use finished compost.

Registration for our Encinitas Master Composter Series, beginning Saturday, April 29th, is now open to all residents, and there are open spots to be filled! If you are interested, register now.

smiling people standing together outside in the sun with compost pile

If this sounds like an exciting adventure to you, but you prefer another date or location, sign up for our Master Composter Interest List in order to receive notifications when a series is scheduled near you!



  • Thanks to Las Patronas for our new van!
  • EcoScraps – Eco Learning Lab Sponsor
  • Rain Water Solutions – Eco Learning Lab Sponsor
  • San Diego County Board of Supervisors – Eco Learning Lab sponsor

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!

donate to Solana Center


This newsletter was made possible through generous support from:

 City of Encinitas logo Greening Our Communitylogo County of San Diego Recycling It's In Our NatureSan Diego Environmental Services logo