How The Farm can help Winonans compost and recycle


From: Dick Gallien

Minnesota Wood Recyclers is a name concocted by and invited into your city’s warm bed before 1993 by your city manager, pollution control was in charge of “wood waste.” They saw smoke coming from a pile of burning brush, shouted pollution, and demanded all waste wood be chipped or ground. I called the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Rochester back then and he said, “I’m the one who rescinded Winona’s burn permit, because they made no effort to stop burning. I gave MWR a permit, because they seemed to be making an effort.” The “effort” was that they sold some firewood, then burned the rest; however, the politicians in St. Paul were increasingly upset by all the towns and cities complaining. Ah ha, wood is a natural resource, so in 1993 politicians gave wood waste to the DNR Forestry Department, who said, “What’s a little smoke, as long as they don’t burn our forests or their neighbors, to where we receive complaints — just $5 for a yearly permit,” and it has worked miraculously for the past 25 years. While other states provide grants and research for producing biochar, and other wood products from wood waste, our DNR foresters bless recycling by fire; however, the city, SE Tech and others working with The Winona Farm can demonstrate to this state and nation, that there is no waste in nature.

Though the MWR’s modern marriage started a few years earlier, let’s start counting at 1993, with $42,000 a year for 10 years, then 15 years at $52,000 a year: $1,200,000; and lighting matches is exhausting, so these are only eight-month years on city land, with a heated building provided, adjoining your sewage plant. Being open limited hours, conveniently squeezes Winonans, so it is lucrative, having someone collecting for all deposits and purchases.MWR has never allowed your street department to dump your street leaves at your (?) compost site, because wet leaves don’t burn and attendants could be buried, so in 19 years, 7,600 of your yellow truck loads of street leaves have been dumped at this farm. 




Your city’s no-bid contract has just been rubber stamped by your City Council to $55,000 this year and $57,000 next year. If only that fool in East Burns Valley would croak, this cash cow would really be producing.

It’s your choice, The Farm will either become your compost site, with unlimited environmental potential, or for a couple million, it will become some rich person’s locked gate, show-off estate, which is the last thing I want; however, at 87, obits are a reality check.

I opened The Winona Farm compost site because I wanted to enrich these badly eroded, brickyard clay soils and uff da, that dream came true! In 1975 your new sewage plant was running your affluent out the back door through a 4” fire hose onto 3 feet of dredge sand, so I hauled 500, 2,000 gallon tank loads, which made the farm fields greener, until the MPCA warned us, before Kirstin was born, about the industrial pollutants. The Farm has been open every day from dawn ‘til dark, since 1990, operating as a community service, funded only through contributions in a jar, which someone borrowed last fall. Even with many generous Winonans, the jar doesn’t begin to cover machinery costs, or a solid, dry driveway and dumping area. When fill dirt comes from Valley Oaks or somewhere, there’ll be a large flat area behind the house for easy unloading, with the Gypsy horses and Belted Galloway on their side of the fence.

As your compost site, we’ll remain open every day, from dawn ‘til dark, as we have been for 29 years. There’ll be no drop-off charge for locals or charge for loading compost by hand. I hope eventually, through gifts or grants, to acquire a large compost screener, so there’ll be enough for all of us, and I can drive into the sunset, spreading compost, minus people’s trash that comes with street leaves and individual deposits.

With help from the city, SE Tech and others, the city can start stacking “all your logs” and brush here now, for no charge, with the goal of turning them into biochar and lumber, instead of ash.

This 175-acre farm, at the junction of one mile of East and West Burns Valley trout streams, three miles from Third and Main, yet protected by 500-foot bluffs and from development, by The Minnesota Land Trust, will be donated to The Winona Farm, Inc., at which time we’ve been promised, Winona’s farm can become your compost site. Instead of being by the sewage plant, or some rich person’s locked gate show-off estate, your farm compost site can be an example for other communities, far beyond recycling by fire and burying street leaves in a ditch.


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