Recycling Organics International Inc., known as ROI, has embarked on an educational mission to train and CERTIFY individuals in ORGANIC GARDENING including: Organic Nutrient Cycling, Disease Control, Integrated Pest Management and the science-based art form known as aerobic Composting.

ROI courses are not just ABOUT composting. This is not just another "education" course. If you only want to learn what composting is and what it's for - you don't need to take a course. You can read this site, or variety of books.

ROI's courses are about learning HOW TO DO IT. And do it really well. Hands-on. Takes some physical effort, too - you have to be able to walk, lift and carrying 40 pounds around, use a shovel and pitchfork and get your hands dirty. If that's not within your scope, then course-work training is not for you. But you won't know 'till you try, so the basic requirement is: if you can put all of your clothes on by yourself, you are probably limber enough to manage. If you garden, you can compost your own yard and food wastes.

Each of the ORGANIC GARDENING courses that ROI teaches about how to perform gardening and composting are based on the latest scientific technologies. ROI also offers Instructor certification courses too. If teaching and training other people is your interest, make that known up front - because it is easier and faster to learn how to teach the course as you learn it - than taking a separate Instructor's course later.

Each ORGANIC (Sustainable) GARDENING COURSE is taught in small groups since interaction is necessary for a person to understand that there are MANY ways to do almost anything right - as long as individual techniques comply with the science involved.

To provide understanding of what is meant by 'the science' we'll use a composting course format to explain:

Often the question is raised: "What 'kind' of composting does ROI teach"? We can teach both of them. Aerobic and anaerobic. But all the courses being offered now, are in aerobic composting. Anaerobic Digestion is only taught at the Master's course level.

While 'cold' aerobic composting is part of the course, emphasis is on fast, "HOT" aerobic methods with focus on the small batch method (less than 2 cubic yards).

"Hot" being defined as a new batch pile achieving a minimum farenheit (F) temperature of 131oF, sustained for a minimum of three (3) days, TWICE.
TWICE means:

  • Following the initial construction of the pile, and:
  • Following the First Turn of the pile.

"Batch" means that a pile is constructed over a short period, then almost no new materials are added to it from then on.

Conversely, a 'cold' composting method is any other than the 'hot' method.

If you want to learn how to perform the "how-to's" of accepted anaerobic composting methods, you'll have to become a Master Composter student.

Large-scale composting of Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW), both aerobic and anaerobic, are only taught in the Professional Composter Course.

The "Batch" method (collecting feedstocks to build a pile at one time - or over a few days) is most often promoted (versus the Continuous-Add [CA] method), but granted, not everybody can acquire sufficient feedstocks to make a cubic yard (minimum) of compost at one time.

OK - so why is it necessary to construct an entire batch pile (minimum of 3' square x 3' high - one cubic yard) within a short period of time? Because that's what it takes to advantage exponential propagation of thermophilic microbes that create the heat in a pile. That is the correct answer, but perhaps that didn't make sense?

Let's try this explanation: It's all about Bio-mass compression. Creating an environment of microbe food (carbon and protein/nitrogen), with sufficient air and enough moisture INSIDE the feedstock materials (not just wet down the outside) to permit the type of microbes that create high heat (thermophilic = heat-loving) to reproduce SO FAST (the entire microbial population doubles about twice an hour) that heat created by virtue of their microscopic bodies "having sex" that the heat of the pile material gets over 131oF - and can get the pile hot enough to actually catch on fire (internal combustion). But letting a pile get that hot is NOT a good thing. Over 155oF and the heat will begin killing too many of the mesophilic microbes that propagate later - and do most of the decompostion work.

Why 131oF? For 6 hours? Because that's what it takes to kill 'bad' microbes and weed seeds and insects inside the pile material.

And knowing how to construct a compost pile to get the feedstock material hot enough quickly enough - but not too hot - is what Hot-Batch Composting is all about. And that takes learning how to estimate Carbon-to-Nitrogen (C:N) ratio based on the feedstock materials used.

The 'average' untrained composter usually does not have sufficient experience to estimate Carbon-to-Nitrogen [C:N] ratios accurately in the field, to achieve high thermophilic temperatures in their piles each time.

So along the way, many inexperienced composters may be 'stuck' with a cold pile to finish-out, and all composters should know how to do that, with acceptable results.

Heat in a Batch Pile is the 'fast' way, but a cold pile just takes longer. A 'cold' pile will eventually decompose into quality compost, as long as a sufficient microbial diversity is present. And that's a matter of learning how to construct a pile with what kind of feedstocks.

But at least you will know what what other composters strive for, and what the risks are from not achieving high enough temperature, and further understand, that if high temperatures are not achieved, the material should be cured/aged longer (to allow mesophilic microbes to work), before the compost gets used for vegetable production.

Yep - that's the kind of stuff you'll learn. Practical 'here's how to do it and why with a git-it-done' mentality. Learn about it - then Do It - then talk about it s'more. Learn by doing. And learn who really does the real work. That's right - Microbes. Bugs. Germs. Mostly 'good guys' but still - critters you can't see without a microscope.

No - you won't need a microscope for the first course - or the next one - but if you want to learn how to become a Master Composter - you'll need access to one then - the local high school Biology lab is a good place.

Certification is issued by Recycling Organics International, Inc. through our educational department within the Organics Recycling Group. My personal experience will be at the helm, so your certification is recognized by most composting organizations - because my knowledge and experience is recognized as being quite capable of validating your knowledge and experience level.

These email courses are still not the best/easiest way to distance-learn composting - so they are in the process of being redesigned for online instruction. Well, actually it's not the courses being redesigned so much as it is getting the software developed so you can take the course online, at your own pace.

It's the same course - but since ROI/ORG Instructors can't be where you are, to demonstrate a technique - so we will be creating and using as series of video clips. That's what the 'techies' are figuring out now. How long will that take? They are not being very talkative at the moment. But I'll keep you informed as I get new info.

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IN THE MEANTIME, TheSoilGuy is the only ROI/ORG Instructor doing online training, because I want to gain more experience in how to handle "distance learning". Part of the learning experience in developing this online course from my face-to-face classes. So - if you don't want to wait until the online course is finished, you can take the course directly from me via email.

Here's the way it works: I'm already training students around the country, and with my CEO/CTO corporate duties, cannot train more than 10 folks at a time via email. So you may have to get on the waiting list. Strictly first-come-first serve. And this is at your pace - and at my pace too. I can usually keep up with you, 'cause I already know the answers...

How much does this personal distance-learning from the Master cost? Right now, $45 bucks for the Accredited Composter Course. The course fee covers the cost of the Certificate, postage, printer paper and ink. Basically, I'm not charging for my time to review/correct your assignments to complete the course. Because I'm still learning the best methods to train someone thousands of miles away via email. I've been teaching these courses in face-to-face classes for many decades - but training by email is a 'new thing' for me...

So, for the moment, if you're interested in participating in the ACCREDITED COMPOSTER COURSE then here's what you'll need to do:

Open a Word document. Type in your name, age and contact information. Title/Save the document as: COMPOSTING FROM MY PERCH. In no more than two typewritten pages, in no smaller than 11 point Arial font, tell me what you know about composting and organic gardening and specifically - about making aerobic hot-batch compost (if you don't know anything, that's OK too - I'm also looking for beginners to train).

Send the Word.doc to me at: robert@thesoilguy.com. I'll tell you within 48 hours about how long it will be before I'll send you a course Registration Form.

How long does the 20-assignment Accredited Composter Course take to complete? Different answer for every person - one student completed the entire course in 7 days - some folks are into their 4th month. Because it's at your own pace - and mine.

At the point that the first online video-training course is installed on the Internet, I will not register any more distance-training by email and you'll have the option to continue via email or switch to the video course.

ROI also may certify an experienced composter as a Composter INSTRUCTOR, but that process is handled entirely on an individual basis, with each course of study designed to enhance each person's existing level of knowledge, experience and training skills.

The online validation process is quite simple, guiding the student through a series of the same educational and instruction sessions that an 'in-person' student studies at the local level.

An in-person student with little experience can enroll in and complete the Accredited Composter courses for certification in 9 sessions. Online I'm currently using a format of 18 Assignments (with 2 Elective Assignment that pertain strictly to each student's situation). Some folks have the time to do the Elective Assignments in a few days - others take longer.

Next is the Certified Composter Course. This course will take you to the level of training you to make enough compost (fast) at home for ALL your gardening/lawn/shrub/flower needs. And when you have enough, you'll have some to give or barter to a few neighbors.

For this course I charge $75 'cause there's more paper/ink involved and I have to process and file a lot more digital photos of what you are doing in/with that course.

Since multiple-student class sessions are not the basis for online study, the testing/validation process is handled differently for online students, such as confirmation of project completions by digital photos. I'm not set up to process student assignments by video yet.

Composting certification from ROI is actually more a matter of what you know how to DO - rather than just what you KNOW.

So if you are an experienced composter, all that is really necessary is to research the assigned material on the Internet and take two exams to determine that you know and understand the information, along with digital photos to verify that you are actually practicing the science-based ART of composting, in an acceptable (to ROI Instructors) form or fashion. Also think about getting 2+ other folks to take the course with you - because collaboration makes the coursework and practical work easier with combined effort.

If you are taking an Instructor's course, you also need to know where to find answers to other people's questions (we provide the reference materials) and be able to demonstrate certain methods and techniques and the results of certain activities. So there will be some phone conversations that will need to take place.

One of the main objectives of ROI's educational mission is to locate folks who desire to expand their knowledge, understanding and experience with composting and organic gardening, so that they are prepared to efficiently pass their knowledge and experience FORWARD to others in their local area who would like to learn more.

Learning to become proficient in an activity such as organic gardening and composting is not difficult (even online). It's simply a matter of determining one's How-To skill and experience and expanding experience with the variety of methods used to compost.

So one of the ROI's main objectives is to assist citizens in the process of developing a validated instruction source - in YOUR local area. You. Bulding a network on which to base support for local members in the variety of composting methods - including vermicomposting (earthworm breeding).

ROI is very supportive of experienced composters and organic gardeners who would like assistance in the form of texts, outlines, formats, advice, along with Q&A support, and various other instructional aids to promote composting and organic gardening in their communities. That all comes with a membership in the Organics Recycling Group (ORG).

We understand that there are no two human beings the same, and no two compost piles or gardens that are the same either. And furthermore, we believe that every single person who manages a compost pile or organic garden is THE EXPERT of THEIR compost pile. Each composter/gardener must make THEIR OWN decisions. And they can base that decision on whatever information THEY choose. The only 'right' way, 'correct' way, 'best' way is THEIR WAY.

Also, with ROI's email instructional program, there's no "volunteer hours" requirement for certification yet - rather that time is spent developing your own composting/gardening facility.

So be encouraged, and help ROI encourage local folks in your community to learn how to compost and organic garden, by sharing yours and their gardening knowledge and experience with other folks - even on this website. Find a local composter and start a discussion...Tell 'em about this website and ask them to check it out. Exchange information and ideas. That's what makes it work - for everybody.

Robert C. Moore © 2007-2011 ~ All Rights Reserved

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