On July 1, 2022, Holden Forests and Gardens was generously awarded a Recycle Ohio Community and Litter Academic Institution grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to compost the organic waste produced during horticultural and arboricultural practices at the Arboretum.
The project total is $75,000 with $60,000 from the OEPA and a $15,000 match for site improvements which will allow the Arboretum’s Horticulture and Collections Department to expand operations to the field north of the current Horticulture and Facilities yard on Sperry Road. Due to current space limitations, there is no way to effectively store or process this waste to harness its value and we pay to have it removed annually, only to buy it back as a soil amendment. This grant allows us to compost and reuse the organic yard waste produced onsite with the broader goal to launch a comprehensive composting program throughout Holden Forests and Gardens, directly supporting our institutional sustainability initiatives.
The Holden Arboretum generates approximately 350 cubic yards (589,943 lbs.) of organic yard waste annually. Nearly 200 cubic yards of that waste is composed of herbaceous plant material collected in the daily care and maintenance of 233 acres of gardens and natural landscape at the Arboretum. This herbaceous material does not include turf or leaves as mulching kits have been added to our mowers to chop and recycle turf clippings and leaves, returning micro and macro nutrients to the soils which feed the turf, eliminating the need for regular fertilization. The remaining 150 cubic yards is composed of wood chips resulting from chipping woody material throughout the Arboretum’s 3600 acres that cannot be left in place due to aesthetics, access, or safety. This woody material is comprised of trees that have been deaccessioned from the collection, hazardous trees within the core areas, or pruned branches from trees in our collections. These numbers are an average generated based on the size and quantity of dumpsters needed to remove waste materials annually and then have it processed off site.
Utilizing 7 aerated static pile composting bays, the objective will be to compost and reuse 100% of the organic yard waste generated onsite to produce a high quality, nutrient rich product that can go directly back into our gardens as a soil amendment. Composting organic waste is a simple and effective method to maximize positive environmental outcomes: reducing reliance on and limiting fertilizer use, improving soil quality, and minimizing fossil fuel inputs required to transport organic waste off site.
Rendering of expanded Horticulture and Facilities Yard
Ann Rzepka Budziak
Director of Horticulture
Ann Rzepka Budziak is the of Director of Horticulture at Holden Forests and Gardens’ Arboretum campus in Kirtland, Ohio. She has dedicated over two decades of her career to public horticulture and has worked in all phases of plant design and installation from site preparation, to seed collecting, propagating and landscape maintenance. She previously maintained the Arboretum’s Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, Henry Norweb Jr. Tree Allee and Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden. Ann oversees the Arboretum’s highly skilled horticultural team and operations for over 80-acres of cultivated land, combining her expertise in horticulture, landscape design, and ecological restoration.