an array of compost bins waits at a rowing event

Composting at the World Rowing Championships

Extension agent Randall Penn and University of Florida student volunteer Sophia Sanchez

The last week of September was an important one for Sarasota, Florida. It marked the first time the area was hosting a major sporting event, the World Rowing Championships. Over 40,000 were in attendance at the week-long event, offering their support to the 900 athletes representing 70 counties.

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County played an important role in the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Extension staff and volunteers assisted in collecting food waste in official UF/IFAS composting collection bins placed around the venue.

Official UF/IFAS compost bins

The project involved a team of composting volunteers assisting with the collection, separation of recycling and trash from the compost bins. Focusing on the athletes, food carts, and general public areas, the UF/IFAS composting team collected nearly 600 pounds of food waste at the event.

The food waste collected is processed in mulch-lined composting bins, specially constructed in the park’s maintenance area. The unique aspect of the composting project is that the food waste is collected and processed onsite, reducing unnecessary environmental impacts. Additionally, composted material resulting from the project will be reused within the park. The food waste collection and diversion program is the first of its kind for organized rowing events.

Mulch-lined composting bins

This marked the third rowing event for which UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County has provided compost collection in 2017 (Florida State Youth Rowing Championships, US Rowing Nationals, and World Rowing Championships). Collectively, the three events have diverted more than 1,000 pounds of food waste. The Extension waste reduction effort is part of a collaborative partnership between Sarasota County’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources and Solid Waste departments, Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates, Inc. (SANCA), and Nathan Benderson Park.

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