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Seven Oaks letting nothing go to waste

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Seven Oaks School Division is offering a new take on the old adage of waste not, want not.
Seven Oaks officials announced details of a new division-wide composting program on Nov. 8.
The program, which has been in the works since this past spring, began with a simple garden which was planted at the division’s maintenance offices at 2536 McPhillips St.
Paul Anderson, director of operations at the building, said staff at the facility began composting and using the broken-down organic matter to fertilize a small garden earlier this year.
Considering the division already had an extensive recycling program, he said it was a natural move to start making use of organic waste.
"Doing part of a job is something we really don’t like to do, we like to do the whole thing," Anderson said.
"So separating waste and being able to compost it is a good thing for us."
Seven Oaks is the first school division in western Canada to implement such a program. In order to make use of the division’s waste, and expedite the composting process, it invested in a BIOvator capsule, designed by Nioex Systems, Inc.
The stainless-steel unit, which has been operating for about a month now, is kept at a consistent internal temperature of 135 F without any additional heat source. It’s already produced a significant amount of compost. Anderson said the division is picking up an average of 400 to 500 pounds of organic waste per week.
Nioex president Shawn Compton noted the end product from the BIOvator could also be used on the grounds of Seven Oaks’ various schools. He commended the division on involving its students in it’s environmental efforts.
"They’re doing a lot more than composting, they’re getting their students involved," Compton said, adding he hopes the division’s actions will inspire others to take up similar projects.
Assistant superintendent Edie Wilde credited Anderson and his staff for their efforts in helping make the program happen.
Wilde stressed the program is about more than just composting.
"It is about a sustainable outdoor classroom that exists in the back of this building," she said.
"There’s also a plot there which will be our outdoor classroom, where we can learn how we take what comes out of the BIOvator and get it back into the soil, how we can plant things."
The compost created by the program will be used to feed the on-site garden, which will create learning opportunities for students as they maintain and eventually harvest it. The outdoor classroom, Wilde said, will be available to any classroom in the division to use.
Rebecca Melsted, a student at Edmund Partridge Community School and a member of its Unite To Change team, was present during the launch with two of her classmates. Melsted said the project will provide benefits for students and will good for both "the Earth and our community."
"I think it’s a really good idea. The BIOvator is just more sustainable... it gets the kids really interacting with it," she added. "With Unite To Change, we’ve already been doing some composting."

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