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UF grad student spreads composting to architecture school

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 1:16 am | Updated: 2:24 am, Fri Feb 14, 2014.

Compost recycling may be spreading across campus, and UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning is the first stop.

A UF landscape architecture graduate student introduced a food waste collection bin at the college and has started a new trend among her peers.

Sara Kovachich, 23, said that every week when she goes to pick the bin up, it’s full.

“Students and faculty have donated their scraps of food. It’s been a lot more than I thought,” she said.

Kovachich said recycling and composting food has become a way of life since she joined the Student Compost Cooperative, a UF organization trying to change the way people recycle their food.

“I love to garden. I don’t own a car. In a way, this is kind of like the next step,” she said. “It’s a simple thing. It can go a long way.”

Cooperative director Ann Wilkie created the organization three years ago after seeing growing interest from students.

“The SCC was my magnificent obsession,” she said. “I thought the best way to learn about these things is by doing.”

Wilkie set up the cooperative at the UF Energy Research and Education Park, where more than 10 compost bins are located.

Students, faculty and residents of Gainesville can bring their leftover scraps to the park any time.

Alec Spaulding, the coordinator of the organization, said the organization’s long-term goal is to establish collection bins across campus, similar to the recycling bins found for plastic bottles and paper.

“The biggest restriction right now is funding,” said Spaulding, a 22-year-old UF family, youth and community sciences senior. “I think we’re going to see this happening everywhere within the next five years, especially in the dining halls.”

A major organization on campus has already followed the initiative of the compost cooperative.

UF’s Office of Sustainability is using the cooperative’s resources by recycling leftover food from meetings, Wilkie said. The organization also works with Gainesville Compost.

The cooperative plans to continue fostering new interest in recycling food scraps and helping the area’s conservation efforts.

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 2/14/2014 under the headline "UF grad student spreads composting to architecture school"]

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