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Barnes Nursery, Inc. - Erie County, Ohio
Class II Composting Facility

Established in 1950, Barnes Nursery Inc. is a diversified green industry organization involved in landscape construction and maintenance, tree service and all segments of outdoor property care. In 1991, Barnes began development of a composting facility that stands as one of Ohio’s successful regional sites.

Located in Erie County (north central Ohio), the Barnes Class II Composting Facility recycles more than 20,000 tons of yard trimmings, food, agricultural and industrial residuals into quality compost and soil blends. By diverting these materials to composting, landfill life is extended and organic resources are returned to Ohio’s soils. Compost is a key building block in the development of high-performance soils from lesser quality sub-soils.

The Barnes facility accepts yard debris including tree, brush, garden trimmings, grass, leaves, wood chips, sod, soil and Christmas Trees. All yard debris must be source separated and free of trash and plastic. Barnes provides receptacles for plastic and other non-compostables.

Barnes also accepts by-products of certain agricultural or industrial processes that are approved for “beneficial use” for composting or soil blending. These by-products may include certain manure, foundry sands, bottom ash (from coal), wheat/oat chaff, silica sand, calcium carbonate and more. Barnes carefully considers the test results from each product and, following recommendations from soil testing labs, determines how to best reuse the by-product in their soil operation.

For the past several years, U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been targeting food waste for diversion from landfills. Food waste diversion usually only works where it can save or pose no additional costs to the generator. In 2007, Erie County, Ohio landfill rates went to $40.75 per ton. Barnes’ composting tip fees are about $26.00 per ton. As the cost differential between landfilling and composting increases, more generators are considering the financial advantage to food diversion.

In 2006, Barnes Nursery received special funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to determine if there was enough interest and financial incentive to divert pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste from commercial waste streams to composting. Barnes hired food diversion specialist John Connolly, JFConnolly & Associates, to contact generators and discuss steps needed to implement a diversion program. 

Food waste accepted at the facility includes, but is not limited to, fruit and vegetable trimmings, outdated bakery goods and dough, dairy products, seafood including shells, plate scraps and leftovers, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, floral waste, egg shells, slurry from pulper, meat from plate scraps, and liquids (beer, wine, liquor, milk, juices, sodas, vinegar, etc). In addition, the food waste might be commingled with soiled napkins, tissues, paper towels and wrappers, waxed corrugated cardboard, milk cartons, paper cups, plates and trays, compostable bags, plates, cups and other packaging.

The Barnes Facility is open year around (hours change seasonally) and is monitored at least quarterly by Ohio EPA’s Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management. For questions regarding the facility operation, feedstocks or products, contact Sharon Barnes at 800-421-8722.



Arriving food waste is off loaded and immediately mixed with shredded wood material. Most people are surprised at the amount of water and packaging in the organics container. From these photos one can see the need for a hard surfaced, dedicated location for off-loading. Large quantities of bulking material are required.



After material is bulked, it is put through a grinding process in order to size the cardboard and other large packaging. When organics arrive without packaging (for example lettuce and cabbage leaves, or potatoes and onions) grinding is not necessary.



After grinding material is windrowed and covered. Barnes has not experienced odor or vector issues so far, but the process is being closely monitored.




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