The Composting Association of Vermont (CAV) is pleased to announce Natasha Duarte, of Hinesburg, Vermont as its new Director. Duarte will lead the 15 year-old organization, advancing the production and use of compost through educational programs and policy initiatives that benefit Vermont’s environment and economy.
Duarte comes to CAV after serving for almost a decade as the Director of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE), a non-profit based in Bristol, VT dedicated to preserving the vital links between human societies and the natural world. During her tenure as the ISE Director, Duarte strengthened and professionalized the Society’s administrative and programmatic capacity. Prior to this, Duarte was a Research Soil Scientist for the USDA Forest Service. As a member of the Forest Sensitivity Mapping Group, she assessed the effects of acid rain on forest ecosystems and tree health, focusing on individual sites throughout New England, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, and California. Community scale composting was the cornerstone of Duarte’s Peace Corps work in Senegal, West Africa, where she helped farmers reclaim land from termite mounds and turn the poorest areas of their fields into the most productive.
Duarte has been a backyard composter for over 20 years and has helped family members and friends begin composting. A dedicated localvore, she enjoys learning about wild edible foods and edible landscaping in her free time. She earned an M.S. in Soil Science from N.C. State University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Vermont.
The Composting Association is saying farewell to retiring Director, Pat Sagui, after serving for 10 years. CAV has provided advocacy that resulted in a sales tax exemption for bulk purchase of compost and planting mixes. In 2010-11, CAV was part of a legislatively mandated compost study committee that resulted in five Act 250 exemptions for on-farm composting. After tropical storm Irene, CAV helped restore eroded stream banks in partnership with the towns of Jamaica and Royalton and VTrans, installing two demonstration sites using compost “socks” and “blankets” to control erosion and improve soil health. In 2015, CAV was instrumental in getting a definition of healthy soil in state statute for the first time (in Act 64).
Current CAV projects include: a pilot in partnership with Vermont Community Garden Network for food scrap composting at community gardens; contributing to a Healthy Soils campaign led by the Lake Champlain Basin Program; working through the Farm to Plate Food Cycle Coalition to manage currently discarded food and food scraps within the food system; and, a partnership with Hunger Free Vermont to develop a regional 'how to’ guide for leveraging universal recycling to increase food access.
CAV’s mission is to advance the production and use of compost as vital to soil health through practices that contribute to water quality, plant vigor, and environmental resilience. CAV advocates the value of compost through policy, outreach, and partnerships to reduce waste, capture energy, and create jobs. You can learn more about the organization at www.compostingvermont.org.