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The Story Behind Roanoke’s First Composting Facility

A Virginian’s dream to minimize waste and emissions became a reality this month with the opening of Star City Compost, Roanoke’s first composting facility. The project began five years ago with a tractor, an open field, and founder Davey Stewards, who at the time was composting food waste from a few local businesses and utilizing the soil for a community garden project. It wasn’t long until Stewards saw the potential for a composting facility and teamed up with Craig Coker, a nationally renowned compost facility consultant, to help him carry out this community-powered project. 

Davey Stewards (left) and Craig Coker (right)

“The facility would not be possible without teaming up with Craig Coker on many levels,” Stewards said. “Legally, we’re obligated to have a solid waste facility manager, and he won the Lifetime Achievement Award for the US Composting Council two years ago and lives only four miles from the location. We got lucky with Craig—he knows the complete ins and outs of the composting industry.” 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), composting is the process of converting organic materials into nutrient-rich, biologically stable soil or mulch through the natural process of decomposition. A study posted by the agency notes that the use of composting can mitigate methane emissions, one of the most concerning contributors to climate change. 

“[The study] explains that basically all of the food waste we send to landfills turns into methane,” Stewards said. “Until we can step back and see the world through an ecological lens again, we’re going to kill the planet.” 

Landfills are the third-largest source of human-caused methane emissions in the country—grassroots efforts like Star City Compost not only help minimize them, they also are a vital and sustainable soil provider for local farms and community gardens. As of now, the business is the first and only composting facility in the area that accepts food waste.

“We’re giving people a real tangible option to reduce their waste and lower their carbon footprint—that goes for residents and commercial entities in the area,” Stewards said. “You can make an impact on climate change for the same cost of a Netflix subscription—it’s possible for us to achieve as a society, we just have to want to do it”

The company is currently offering pick-up services for $25 a month or drop-off options for $10 a month for people to contribute their organic waste. For more information visit

All photos courtesy of Davey Stewards of Star City Compost.

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