Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

cc logo

Contact Details

Call us
(360) 397-2121 x4352

Composting

  • Compost Consultations

    Are you interested in setting up a better composting system at your community garden?

    The Master Composter Recycler Program offers FREE Composting Consultations for community gardens in Clark County, WA. A Master Composter Recycler Ambassador will come to your garden with resources, tips and tricks to guide you to composting success.

    Read more

     

    mcr compost consults article

    How does this program work?

    Is my garden eligible?

    Any school, church, or community garden can participate in the program. The application will help provide us the details we need to know how to help you best.

    What can I expect from my compost consultation site visit?

    A Master Composter Recycler ambassador will come out to your garden to provide you resources and advice (where to site a bin, what style of bin will work best, what to compost and not compost, how to manage your compost pile, etc.) to help you set up a successful composting system. The visit will take 30 – 60 minutes. At the end of the visit, we’ll leave you with a packet of resources to guide you and fellow gardeners on your own. You are always welcome to reach out to us with additional questions.

    What happens after my site visit?

    You will be responsible for obtaining any necessary supplies to construct your composting system and manage your pile(s). However, your ambassador will be available for additional visits to help you set up your system, check up on your progress, ensure things are working properly, and troubleshoot problems.

    So how do I get started?

    If you are interested in a Master Composter Recycler ambassador coming to your garden for a consult, please call (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 or email us at mcr@clark.wa.gov and ask to set up a visit. All we need is some basic contact information and few details on your current composting set up, or lack thereof. This will help us determine what resources we can provide to best meet your needs.

    Please spread the word! This is a new service that we are proud to offer the community for free. If you know someone who works in a community garden space, ask if they have heard of this opportunity.

  • Fact Sheets

    Clark County offers a multitude of fact sheets and booklets that provide ways you can actively help reduce pollution in our waters.

  • How to compost

    Composting is a way to turn your yard and kitchen wastes into part of nature’s natural cycle of decomposition. Composting is a great way to reduce our contribution to landfills and climate changing gasses while producing a wonderful soil amendment for yards and gardens.

    We offer workshops and demonstrations on how to feed the earth rather than the landfill.

    Read more

    mcr how to compost article

    Backyard Composting

    There are many systems for composting yard and kitchen waste in your backyard. You can visit one of our composting demonstration sites to see various bins and systems in use. If you want to virtually explore some options for backyard composting systems this website is a helpful resource.

    The two basic backyard composting methods are fast— batch or hot composting, and slow— add as you go or cold composting. Mother nature doesn’t care which one you use. But you might! With the faster hot composting method, the end product can be higher quality— but the amount of work needed to turn and monitor your pile is more. With cold composting, not as much work is needed, but it can take several months to a year to get usable compost.

    SMART is an acronym for the compost factors you should pay attention to for best results:

    S:
    Size

    The size of your pile and the pieces you put in it. Your pile should be at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet in volume (for a hot pile). Your woody pieces of material should be chopped up to less than 2″ in diameter.

    M:
    Moisture

    Keep the pile moist as a wrung out sponge. You can mist it with a hose as you add new material.

    A:
    Aeration

    Turn your compost occasionally. You want oxygen to get into the pile, and to get the materials mixed. Serious composters try to get the pile hot — and turn it once the temperature drops.

    R:
    Ratio

    The ratio of “browns” to “greens” should be an average of Carbon/Nitrogen 30:1. An easy way to measure this is to go by volume — and use 1:1. One unit of brown to one of green. An easy way to remember this is “equal parts of green and brown help to break the compost down.”

    T:
    Turn

    Turn your “garbage” into black gold!

    Here are some other great resources

    Composting Using Redworms

    There is great information on the web about composting with worms. Here are some links to resources we find helpful:

    Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) are the worm of choice for home vermicomposting. There are a number of local resources in the Clark County area to purchase redworms. It’s always a good idea to call ahead for availability and pricing. One pound is typically a good amount to start a worm bin with.

    If you want to purchase redworms elsewhere, we recommend you enter “buy redworms” in your search engine to find the best source and price for you.

    Happy Composting!

  • Compost Demo Sites

    Visit a Compost Demo Site

    The Master Composter Recycler program operates two composting demonstration sites in Clark County where visitors can view different bins, compost systems, and see compost being made on a backyard scale. These sites are open to the public daily during daylight hours. The locations are:

    CASEE

    Center for Agriculture Science and Environmental Education, 11104 NE 149th, Brush Prairie. Demonstration site is located at the west end of the NatureScaping Wildlife Botanical Gardens.

    Learn more about NatureScaping gardens

    Heritage Farm

    78th St Heritage Farm, 1919 NE 78th St, Vancouver. Demonstration site is walking distance from the parking lot, north of the orchard and west of the community garden.

    mcr compost demo site article
  • Good soil

    The most important thing we can do for our yards and gardens is to provide healthy soil. Healthy soil produces healthy plants. No matter what type of soil is in place when you acquire your yard, it can be made better with the addition of compost and/or mulch. If your funds are limited, good quality mulch is the best investment you can make in your backyard.

    Soil contains billions of micro-organisms that eat rotting organic matter and transform it into nutrients available for plants. Compost and mulch figure heavily into feeding the soil biota. Compost may be incorporated into the soil to immediately start feeding the soil life. Mulch should be used on top of the soil and/or compost. Over time, mulch turns into compost on its own.

    Read more

    nbb healthy soil article

    How to build good soil:

    Understand Soil Types

    Soil has many components, and it is generally broken down into three types: Clay, silt, and sand. Clay has the smallest size, Because of this, it packs together densely which limits how much air is contained within the soil. Sand has the largest particle size. Because of this, it has very large spaces. This is great for air flow, but it also means that water flows out of it very easily. Silt sits somewhere between the extremes of clay and sand.

    Generally, a blend of the three soil components is deemed the best for most gardening needs. This pleasant blend is called loam, and in Clark County, it is very difficult to find. We have more than our fair share of hard, dense clay soils. You don't need to try to make loam out of raw ingredients.  If you have mostly clay or sand soil, add compost to your soil.

    Use Compost

    You can make your own compost from the yard debris created in your own backyard. The Clark County Master Composter/Recycler Program is an excellent source of information. Through their workshops you can get started on your own compost pile. The Master Composters can also recommend composting demonstration sites so you can see firsthand how the compost cycle works.

    We understand that not everyone has the space for (or their neighborhood association may not allow) composting. What to do? You may be able to get compost from or a friend, but you can also buy compost.

    Even if you don’t have a garden in need of it, composting is a good way to keep kitchen waste and other organic materials out of the landfill. Here are some things you can do with unwanted/unneeded compost. We encourage everyone to compost. 

    Use Mulch

    Mulch is an under-used and under-rated commodity in the garden environment. In ornamental gardens in our region, mulch should always cover both bare soil and compost. Mulch helps the soil in ornamental gardens by: moderating temperature, retaining moisture, providing nutrients as it slowly composts in place, and preventing weeds.

    Mulch can be a variety of materials, but we recommend high-carbon, un-composted, woody material. In our area, tree bark is most commonly used. But the Naturally Beautiful Backyards program advocates using fall leaves as mulch. And why not? They fall from trees into the garden requiring minimal-to-no cost or work in accomplishing the task of mulching. Leaves and other woody debris are the same materials a natural forest uses for mulch, and that system has worked well for millennia.

    An added benefit of mulch is that it eventually turns into compost all on its own, thus providing food for the soil biota.

    Recently we have seen arborist wood chips used as mulch. This is a great way to recycle arborist leftovers. Learn more about wood chips, where to get them, and how to use them in the Information Archive.

    The benefits of mulch far outweigh their simplicity in the garden. The addition of three inches of mulch in the spring around early vegetables provides shelter from freezing temperatures. Mulch in perennial and garden beds deters weeds, increases moisture retention, and stabilizes soil temperatures during extreme hot or cold spells. Mulching garden beds before the winter rains provides protection of garden soil from compaction and provides an available nutrient source to turn into the bed in spring. Three inches of mulch applied in the spring before weed seeds have matured will save hours of weeding in the summer months.

    Some guidelines for using mulch:

    • Mulch depth can vary between 3"–6" for most ornamental garden needs. Finely textured mulch can be toward the lower end of that range. Coarse, arborist chip mulch can be toward the higher end. Less than 3" depth doesn't supply adequate weed suppression.
    • Apply mulch any time of the year when soil or compost can be seen through the mulch, or any time the mulch depth is less than listed above.
    • Before applying mulch, either new or refreshing old, make sure the soil below is well-watered. Mulch is an insulator, and if the soil below it is dry, the mulch will keep it dry until a very large quantity and duration of rain occurs.
    • Keep mulch away from woody-plant root crowns to avoid damage from pests and disease.
    • Gravel and other inorganic materials are not good mulches for gardens/landscapes. These things ARE good for creating walkways, patios and other hardscape features. In most cases, use a weed barrier between the inorganic material and the soil.
    • Organic mulches decompose and need to be replaced. Replacement is based on the type of mulch used: fall leaves last about a year; 3–4" of bark typically last two to three years; 5–6" of arborist chips may last three to four years.

    Learn About the Soil Food Web

    The soil food web is a complex collection of living organisms in the soil that work together to create healthy soil. It is a lot more complex than that, and you can learn more by reading Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.

    Nutrient cycling is the process organic matter cycled from living to non-living and back to new living matter through an ecosystem and is regulated by the soil food web.

    Learn more

    Explore the entire Information Archive

  • Volunteer opportunities

    The people who live in Clark County are incredibly generous with their time. There are lots of volunteer opportunities out there and our neighbors rise to the occasion. All across Clark County, people just like you are donating their time and energy to help preserve Clark County’s environment and enhance the quality of life of its residents. Volunteers make enormous contributions to our environment and community. Volunteering is a great way to show your passion for nature and dedication to community. 

    Read more

     

    Related articles: Become a Master Composter/Recycler | Event Calendar

    volunteer opportunities article

    There are multiple opportunities to become involved in our programs: 

    For more information, contact us at (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352.

    We also have volunteer opportunities listed on the Green Neighbors calendar of events so you can see at a glance what is happening on a day when you might be able to give a few hours. WildWatch is a chance to make a difference in your own backyard and a great way to spend some quality family time.

  • Master Composter/Recycler

    Inspiring a greener future by sharing knowledge

    The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of stuff each day. Across our nation, over 165 million tons of potentially usable material is landfilled each year. This represents a large cost both economically and environmentally. Why throw good things away!? Diverting valuable materials back into the production and raw materials stream can save money, create jobs, and foster a healthier environment.

    The Master Composter Recycler Program educates the community about easy ways to reduce waste, recycle more, and re-think our impact on natural resources.

    Trained Master Composter Recyclers are sustainability ambassadors. They host backyard composting workshops, attend community events with a booth chock-full of composting and recycling how-to information, teach wormshops, operate composting demonstration sites, and share their knowledge with neighbors and community groups.

    For more information about the Master Composter Recycler program, please call (360) 397-2121 ext 4961 or email mcr@clark.wa.gov.

    Become a master composter

     

    Related articles: Recycling Done Right | Recycling A–Z

  • Community Gardens

    Clark County manages the community gardens at Pacific Park in East Vancouver. All of the plots are rented out annually and gardeners are required to use natural gardening practices (no herbicide, pesticide, etc.).

    All plots are full for the 2017 garden season. Please check back to this site in late 2017 for information about 2018 rentals. For more information please email us at communitygarden@clark.wa.gov.

    Natural Gardens at Pacific Community Park

    NE 18th St & NE 172nd Ave

    Vancouver, WA 98684

     

    Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting

    community gardens pacific park article
  • Naturally Beautiful Backyards

    Naturally Beautiful Backyards (NBB) is a program that can help you be as green in your yard as you are in your house. There are things you do in your indoor life to be green, likewise, there are things you can do in your yard to be green as well. And not just in your backyard!

    The NBB program encourages:

    Make It Naturally Beautiful

    Learning about how to work with nature will make you a better and more confident gardener. Encouraging birds, bees, and wildlife into your yard by using native plants, tolerating insects and a little damage, building great soil, recycling and composting waste materials, and using fewer chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) will enable your yard to contribute positively to a healthier environment.

    Browse our pages and learn how to make your yard naturally beautiful.

     

    Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting

  • Become a Master Composter / Recycler (MCR)

    The 2018 MCR class is currently full. To be placed on the waiting list please complete the application below.

    If composting and recycling interest you, you want a sustainable future, and you want to be part of a great community, consider becoming a Master Composter / Recycler. The volunteer training provides you with the tools and knowledge to build a hot compost pile, tend a worm bin, and reduce waste.

    Master Composter / Recyclers attend an annual FREE 10-session course that explores:  backyard composting, vermicomposting, recycling, sustainable living, green cleaning, and more. Participants then share what they learn with the Clark County community. Master Composter / Recyclers “payback” their training with community service hours. They represent the program at community events such as fairs and farmers markets; teach and host workshops and lectures; grow redworms for wormshops; maintain compost demonstration sites; and share their knowledge with neighbors and community groups.

    Applications are being accepted now for the 2018 MCR training. Classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings, January 24 – March 28, 2018. If you are interested in getting more hands on experience with composting and recycling, check out our workshops

    Program Application

    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input

    Invalid Input
    Invalid Input
    Thank you for your interest in becoming a Master Composter Recycler Volunteer. Upon receipt of your completed application you will be contacted with further information. We look forward to working with you! Please contact the Master Composter Recycler Program at: mcr@clark.wa.gov or call 360-397-2121 ext. 4961 with questions or for more information.
  • Classes and Workshops

    Our Fall 2017 Schedule is here!

    Register now!

    Workshop details

     mcr classes workshops article

    Green Cleaning – NO COST.

    This class is full. Please email mcr@clark.wa.gov to be placed on a waiting list.

    Wednesday, December 6th, 6 – 8pm
    Make three versatile household green cleaners. Kit and ingredients provided no charge.