Now hiring a Compost Operator

Our Compost Operator plays a central, multifaceted role in the farm’s composting operation.  The Compost Operator fulfills two primary roles, operating our compost collection operation throughout the Northeast Kingdom and Lamoille County, and producing compost and worm castings here on the farm.  The Operator’s time will be roughly 60-70% collection operations, and 30-40% compost and worm castings production.  As Compost Collection Operator this person is the primary face and operator of our compost collection business, which requires the Operator to perform a variety of tasks as the driver and operator of the compost collection route. This is one of two operator positions that service our customers.  As Compost Production Operator this person will manage the composting process on the farm, helping to produce two distinct products – compost and worm castings. This position is for 24 hours per week, however the operator may be required to work longer days during compost collection as needed.  Additional hours may include general farm tasks that are not outlined in this description. 

Description of Food Scrap Collection Operations

We collect discarded food scraps, including vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy and seafood from a variety of businesses and institutions, including grocery stores, restaurants, schools, prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, food processors, and recycling centers.  Our collection routes currently service roughly 50 customers in the townships between Hyde Park, Hardwick, Greensboro, St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville, Newport and Jay, as well as special event locations. The route is growing and may expand to additional towns and locations.  We collect approximately 200 containers of food material each week.

The route is serviced with a one-ton dump truck pulling a 10-yard dump trailer.  Food scraps are collected in 48-gallon, wheeled containers, and tipped into the trailer with a hydraulic lifter.  Each container must be screened for trash contamination.  Any contaminants found in the food scraps are removed by the Operator.  After each container is tipped the Operator washes the inside and outside of the container with a hot water pressure washer, removing food particles and grease.  The full compost trailer is tipped at our farm and other farms in the area, and the truck and trailer are washed at the end of each day.  Each stop requires starting a generator, hot water pressure washer, and fresh water pump.

Winter presents unique challenges for this operation.  The Operator is often operating in single digit temperatures, actively managing equipment to prevent freezing of wash water, and working to dislodge ‘foodsicles’ (food scraps frozen in tote).

Description of Compost Production and Operator Role

When food scraps are tipped here at the farm, they are blended into a compost mix with other materials and fed to hens.  What is removed each month from the hens’ feeding bin is built into free-standing windrows.  When these piles reach required parameters for Organic Certification a portion of the material is used to feed worms each week, who turn the product into worm castings (worm manure) in our continuous-flow worm composting system.  The remaining material continues to be thermophilically composted (high temperature, bacterially-driven composting) in either windrows or an Aerated Static Pile (ASP) system for sale or field application.  We are in the process of setting up the ASP system to recover heat from the process for our greenhouse operation. 

As Production Operator, the Compost Operator will be in charge of various tasks required to produce high quality compost and worm castings.  The Operator will

Job Description

The Compost Collection Operator role and responsibilities include:

  1. Weekly collection of food scraps from customers – includes driving ton-truck with 10-yard dump trailer (39’ total length), handling 48-gallon wheeled containers (typically ~ 220 pounds, up to ~300 pounds), and operating other equipment (listed below).
  2. Operation of generator, hot water pressure washer, and 12-volt fresh water pump.
  3.  Daily tracking and reporting of data.
  4. Visually inspecting containers for contaminants and removing them.
  5.  Customer service as needed while on customer premises.
  6. Collection of sawdust from cabinet shops as needed and delivery of sawdust to customers.
  7. Occasional tractor operation as needed.
  8. Weekly & monthly meetings.

The Compost Production Operator role and responsibilities include:

  1. Monitor conditions in compost piles and the worm bin, and record data
  2. Turn compost piles and move materials with the farm tractor (Kubota M4700),
  3. Maintain compost pad with regular grading,
  4. Feed and water worms,
  5. Harvest and screen worm castings
  6. Product sampling and testing,
  7. Bag finished worm castings and compost products for sale,
  8. Load customers and handle on-farm sales. 

Qualifications

  1. Excellent work ethic and appreciation for efficiency.
  2. Good time management and organizational skills.
  3.  Superior personal skills, including communication, stress management, and team work. 
  4.  Experience integrating operational speed with diligence and calmness.
  5. Good physical health, and the ability to:
  • handle containers up to 350 pounds (on wheels)
  • lift 100 pounds safely
  • climb in and out of truck bed routinely with comfort
  • shovel heavy material for extended periods of time
  1. Five years of driving experience and ideally, one year of commercial or heavy truck driving experience.
  2. Clean driving record and a commitment to safety
  3. Good mechanical skills, preferably experience with small engines
  4. Willingness to work in adverse outdoor and winter conditions and extended hours as needed.
  5. Good judgment
  6. Willingness to follow and develop protocol.  Curiosity and ambition for operational excellence.
  7. Excitement about compost, farming and the food system.

This is meaningful and rewarding work but it is not for the faint of heart.  The Compost Operator must take pride in their work and welcome challenges, while striving for predictable and impeccable systems. This position has a high degree of autonomy and mostly involves working alone, but must work collaboratively toward common goals with the rest of the farm crew.

Compensation:

  • Competitive wages based on experience

How to apply:

If you’re interested in this role please introduce yourself and send a resume to Tom at tom@blackdirtfarm.com or give us a call at 802-745-8006 to talk about the position and see if the role might be right for you. We will need three work references. Our process moves successively through the following steps:

  1. Phone call
  2. Resume review
  3. In-person interview
  4. Reference calls
  5. A paid trial run