Prince William County and Freestate Farms, L.L.C. broke ground for a construction project at the Balls Ford Road Yard Waste Composting Facility, in Manassas, Va. Tuesday.
As part of a public private partnership, Freestate Farms will construct and operate the transformed facility. The project is expected to take two years, and at least $35 million to complete.
“We are going to build an advanced aerobic and anaerobic digester, which will double the capacity of what we can process here. As well as use state of the art technology to reduce odors and increase the capacity,” explained Prince William County Solid Waste Division Chief, Thomas Smith.
Currently the composting facility relies on a “low-tech, windrow system.”
“It takes like six to eight months to actually get the decomposition to occur, with this new system it’s gonna speed that up to only taking a couple months,” Smith said.
Smith explained that the new facility will operate at four times the site’s existing processing capacity.
“Not just yard waste, but the full range of yard and food waste as well,” he said.
Experts say the new system is not only more efficient at processing waste, but more efficient at harnessing, and utilizing the gases emitted during the process.
“We’ll be generating electricity, a portion of which we’ll use to power the advanced composting component. The excess electricity that we’ll generate, we’ll sell back to the grid. We’re working with NOVEC, the local electricity co-op, to do so. And then, there’s heat, that will be generated, that we will use to keep our anaerobic digester at the right heat.” said Freestate Farms Chief Executive, Douglas Ross.
Ross said the company will then loop the products together, to produce food.
“The compost, the soil products, the electricity, the heat, the carbon dioxide — to grow fresh, local, organic produce that we’ll serve back into the community.”
The company is currently unsure of exactly how much food they’ll sell, and to who.
It is likely restaurants will be their customers, though they’re hoping to establish more community oriented partnerships — universities being ideal partners. Ross said he estimates they will have anywhere from four, to eight vertical grow boxes, which he said equates to roughly an acre, to an acre and a half of grow space in a greenhouse.
“Full circle, we’re taking food waste, and generating food!” he smiled.
Due to construction, the household hazardous waste and electronics program has been suspended at the Balls Ford Road site.
Residents may still recycle such items at landfill located at the landfill at 14811 Dumfries Rd., Manassas, Va. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.