POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) – Not into the garbage, but onto the farm. That’s where food scraps from local colleges, schools and businesses are going.

They feed a lot of students at Clarkson University. And they produce a lot of food waste. But it’s not going to landfills anymore. It’s going to a local farm.

“We’ve actually had a really positive reception. There are some kids that are like, ‘Oh! Thank you so much for teaching me to compost,’” said Celia Darling, Clarkson University student.

Darling and others are part of a sustainability project. They’ve taught students all they have to do is scrape their plates. Then Cherie and Dan Whitten pick it up out back and haul it to the Whitten Family Farm.

“No. 1, we’re going to have good fertility at our farm. … That’s going to be an immediate benefit to us is that we’re going to have good fertility,” said Cherie Whitten, co-owner, Whitten Family Farm.

The Whittens are now preparing to build a 4,000-square-foot composting facility. They plan to sell compost to gardeners, farmers – anyone that needs rich soil.

“Composting is like a way of life sort of. It’s a part of a holistic farm concept,” said Cherie.

In addition to local colleges, they also service the Potsdam food co-op and its members. And they want to make food scrap recycling possible for homeowners. New ways of thinking have created demand for the service.

“They have ethics that are telling them that they shouldn’t be wasting, that they need to be conserving natural resources,” said Cherie.

Cherie credits Clarkson for inspiring the idea for the business. It’s also helped by a new state law mandating food recycling for large commercial kitchens.

Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment and the Potsdam Smart Communities Task Force have played key roles in getting the initiative rolling.

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