A Second Life For Leftovers

Posted: 10:04 PM EDT Aug 16, 2011   Updated: 6:41 AM EDT Aug 10, 2011

It's called a way to create a closed loop food circle.

Farmers are composting restaurant food scraps and they're hoping restaurant owners buy local crops.

In order to do that, organizers of the Lehigh Valley Food Waste and Composting Initiative need more restaurants and farmers to join.

Ever wonder what happens to the food scraps you leave on the table at your local restaurant?

"Any restaurant owner or anyone working in a kitchen would realize there is a lot of food scraps that go as waste into the landfill," said Rich Fegley, co-owner of the Allentown Brew Works Restaurant.

Owners of the Brew Works joined the Lehigh Valley Food Waste and Compost Initiative.

Food scraps that used to go to the landfill are now separated and sent to local farms.

"We transitioned into separating our waste very easily," said Fegley. "Very minimal training that was required."

Once the food is separated, it goes into five gallon buckets.

The goal is to turn the scraps into rich usable soil.

They've been composting food scraps for eleven years at Four Springs Farms in Maxatawny Township, Berks County.

The farm gets its scraps from local grocery stores, but owners know the program will benefit each farmer that signs up.

"Well I think it's great," said Kenneth Gehringer, co-owner, Four Springs Farm. "I think it's something that should have been done a long time ago."

As an example, Kenneth Gehringer showed us his corn crop.

Corn planted early didn't get a lot of moisture during the drought, but corn just behind it received compost soil and held its moisture.

"The rest of the really nice green corn looks like it's going to produce some nice ears," said Gehringer. "I felt it was helped by the water holding capacity added by the compost."

Now the goal is to get more farmers and restaurants to sign up for the program and reduce a huge carbon footprint.

"The need is for both," said Erin Frederick, conservation program specialist for the Lehigh County Conservation District. "It would be great to see every restaurant diverting their food scraps and having it sent to a local farm."