University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, faculty and members of the Lincoln community are invited to learn how to build a compost pile, divert waste from landfills and improve personal gardens on Saturday morning.

On Saturday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m., the City of Lincoln Recycling and Nebraska Extension will host composting demonstrations at Sheridan Elementary School’s outdoor classroom and Pioneers Park Nature Center’s backyard composting demonstration area, according to Nebraska University Communication.

Saturday’s events will be led by the Nebraska Master Gardener Volunteers program, a UNL extension program, according to T Jack Morris, co-chair of the Master Gardener Compost Committee. The composting committee helped plan the events on Saturday and hopes to teach the public how to best create a composting pile and recycle leaves and grass clippings.

“[Composting] of course reduces the amount of material going into the landfill,” Morris said. “But when [waste] does go into the landfill, because it’s compact, it doesn’t recycle as efficiently, so it just lays there. And [a landfill] really isn’t an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint — which composting is.”

Morris, a UNL professor emeritus of biological sciences, said that composting and recycling together can help reduce waste sent to landfills by 40%.

Master Gardeners constructed the composting demonstration area at Pioneers Park many years ago to lead demonstrations and encourage the public to compost more, he said. Sometimes when first-time composters come to demonstrations, they are nervous and afraid of messing up, but Morris said that composting is not hard.

Morris said the soil in Lancaster County contains high levels of clay and can be hard to garden with. However, adding compost improves soil aeration, drainage and fertility, and composting makes gardens more productive in the long run, he said. 

“You reduce that carbon footprint,” Morris said. “You reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere and you also end up with a valuable product that you can put in your garden.”

Every year, the Master Gardeners host around four public composting demonstrations, he said, and all members of the public are invited on Saturday to Pioneers Park and Sheridan Elementary School to learn firsthand.

“It’s really about improving our environment more than anything,” he said.