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Winter 2017 Newsletter

Solana Center Newsletter

Update from our Executive Director:

We're so grateful for the kind support we've received recently from sponsors, donors, and our wonderful volunteers. Special thanks to the County Board of Supervisors for awarding Solana Center a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant and to Las Patronas for funding a new vehicle for our education and outreach programs.

In just the last quarter of the year, we're proud to have contributed to creating a StyrofoamTM-free Encinitas, helping people catch the rain, and developing waste diversion education and solutions for school districts.

In the new year, look for our new streamlined, mobile-friendly website, which will be easier to use when registering for classes and finding information. Consider making an end-of-year donation to support the development of our new website, as well as our ongoing educational programs.

Note that we now have special Saturday hours to make it easier for you to get those special eco-gifts this holiday season!


Abby and Michael Wattierrez as the Bag Monster and Foam Monster at the 2016 Encinitas Holiday Parade

Encinitas Holiday Parade

Our Bag Man and Foam Monster celebrated the state's plastic bag ban and City of Encinitas' ban on Styrofoam™ food containers at the 2016 Encinitas Holiday Parade on Saturday, December 3rd.

Soil Saver compost bin

Eco-gifts & Holiday Hours

Want to give a gift that supports sustainable habits and reduces waste this holiday? We sell both traditional compost bins and worm bins and composting accessories at our Encinitas location. Live in Encinitas? Compost bins are subsidized and offered at a substantial discount for Encinitas residents.

We are now open 8 AM-12 PM EVERY Saturday in December until Christmas! We are also open Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 AM-4 PM or call us at (760) 436-7986 x700 to arrange a convenient time to come by.

Great Gifts Available at Solana Center:

  • Compost bins
  • Worm bins
  • Kitchen scrap collectors
  • Rain barrels (eligible for a $75 rebate before December 31st)
  • Bokashi bran
  • Compost thermometers
  • Aerators
  • Red worms
  • Worm castings
  • Coconut coir

Call us for more information or with your composting questions at: (760) 436-7986 x700 or email us at

Become a Master Composter!

The five-week Master Composter course provides in-depth training in the art and science of composting. Course includes lectures, demonstrations, and a field trip. Teams will work together to build, maintain, and troubleshoot their own traditional compost and vermicompost bins.. Master Composter certification requires attendance at 4 out of 5 classes and 30 volunteer hours of related community service.

This course is funded by the County of San Diego and is only offered every other year, so don’t miss out!

Unincorporated County residents receive preferential registration. Non-County resident registrants will be placed on a waitlist and notified 2 weeks before the start of the course.

  • Sundays, February 19 thru March 26, 2106
  • (No class on March 12th)
  • 10 AM - 12:30 PM
  • The Water Conservation Garden
  • El Cajon
  • Course Fee:$25



Making San Diego Schools More Eco-friendly

Solana Center makes school lunch recycling a no-brainer. Thanks to SDG&E’s Environmental Champions funding, our educators recently worked with the staff and students at San Ysidro School District to reduce lunch waste and send less to the landfill. The San Ysidro School District has 5,230 students in grades k-8 and a high percentage of children from low-income families.

Read more

All About Worms Vermicomposting Workshop

Vermicomposting (worm composting) is an environmentally-friendly way to turn your food waste into nutrient rich castings for your plants or garden beds. Learn all about how easy it is to compost your food waste with red wriggler worms at this interactive presentation. This workshop will be fun and informative for the whole family! Children over 10-years-old may accompany an adult and will enjoy a kid-friendly worm activity. 

Learn how to make your own worm bin or, purchase one of our pre-made mini bins or in-ground worm bins. We will also have red wriggler worms available for purchase so you can start right away sending less to the landfill and creating your own nutrient rich castings.

  • Saturday, January 24, 2017
  • 12:30 AM - 2:30 PM
  • Jacumba Library
  • Jacumba Hot Springs, CA
  • FREE

EUSD Students Learn All About Worms & Recycling

Students in Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) learned all about worms  and why they are nature’s original recyclers. In partnership with the EUSD's Farm Lab, Solana Center designed a worm science lesson with a pumpkin theme. During September and October, we taught worm lessons to all of the nine EUSD elementary schools’ kindergarten classes. Kindergartners learned about worm composting, red wiggler worm anatomy, how to build a worm bin and explored worm castings to find compost critters.

We also conducted SCRAP cart assemblies and lunch time monitoring for five EUSD schools. Each assembly watched a “Waste to Wealth” presentation which focused on the importance of reducing what is sent to the landfill. We used the actual SCRAP cart and lunch “waste” to demonstrate how to sort their waste into worm composting, composting, recycling, and trash. The presentation included an interactive activity for the students to decide where each of the items would go and a question and answer period. These programs were made possible through funding from the City of Encinitas.

Composting Education at a San Diego Treasure

We recently presented a Composting Workshop, supported by the City of San Diego, at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park & Visitor Center. We had a great turnout and fell in love with this wonderful park and visitor center. Located in a narrow coastal canyon in the heart of San Diego, the park has approximately 6.5 miles of trails designed for jogging walking and mountain biking. A newly constructed Nature Center offers exhibits on the animal and plant life of the canyon. Just as we promote composting to restore nutrients to our soil, the City of San Diego is working to restore Tecolote Canyon to its natural state. Check out this gem of a park in our own backyard!

Grant News!

We have been awarded a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to develop a mid-sized composting demonstration site at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The grant comes at a critical time, as Assembly Bill 1826 requires businesses to recycle their organic waste rather than sending it to landfills. This project will provide proper training for operators of mid-scale composting sites. Stay tuned!

We're also excited to announce that we are the recipients of a grant from Las Patronas for a vehicle to support our education and outreach programs! Las Patronas is committed to providing financial assistance to nonprofit organizations in San Diego County that provide valuable community services in the areas of health, education, social services, and cultural arts, and to continuing their tradition of service to enhance the quality of life in their community. Their support will help Solana Center continue our tradition of enhancing the quality of life in our community.

E-Waste Recycling Drop Off at Solana Center

Solana Center has partnered with San Diego Urban Corps to recycle e-waste. You can now drop off electronic waste, florescent bulbs, and used batteries on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM, Saturdays during December from 8 AM until 12 PM or by appointment by contacting us at (760) 436-7986 x 700. Please do not leave e-waste unattended.

San Diegans Save Money & Water with Rain Barrels

Solana Center teamed up with the San Diego County Water Authority to encourage San Diegans to catch the rain this winter – and take advantage of a regional $75 rebate. The rebate will be reduced on January 1st so get your rain barrel now!  Solana Center and the Water Authority offered four rain barrel pick-up locations around the county and sold over 1000 rain barrels in just one month!

Residents can still order 50-gallon rain barrels through Solana Center for $90 each (discounted from $149). Once purchased, residents can maximize their savings by applying for the $75 rain barrel rebate (maximum two rebates per address) available through the SoCalWaterSmart program by Dec. 31st. 

Read more

Rotline Question

Q: What can I do with my palm tree trimmings besides send them to the landfill?

A: Palm trees need to be trimmed for both safety and aesthetic reasons. We often receive calls from residential composters about the challenge palm fronds present for traditional composting systems. Palm fronds are organic material, so they will eventually decompose, however they break down much more slowly than most other yard clippings or garden waste. Often the green waste haulers do not want to pick up the palm fronds since they tend to jam even the commercial shredders. 

So what can a gardener do with the trimmings from a palm tree?

  • Re-use the palm fronds as roofing material for a palapa.
  • Use the palm fronds as a temporary sun filter for germinating seedlings.
  • Use as mulch under trees if the fronds are dry and brittle when chopping the leaves off the stems. Some folks find that their chipper/shredder does not jam up as readily when the material is very dry. Be aware that the long spines on some palms will remain in the mulch.
  • Make compost. Palms are high in silica, so there is value in using them for mulch (see above) or as a "brown" in compost.  After allowing the material to dry out, you can either chop by hand or run over the leaves with a mower. Pre-soaking this brown material will jump-start the decomposition process. Of course, pre-soaking all "browns" helps make a moist compost pile without wasting water.
  • Make garden stakes out of the stem part of the frond. These may not last as long as wooden stakes, but they are free!
  • Use as kindling. The thick end of the leaf sheaths can be used for kindling in a fire as it burns hot and clean. The ash from burned palms is high in silica, so can be added in small amounts to your compost pile.
  • If you do not want to take the time to chop up all of the palm tree material, it is possible to bury whole fronds and make them the bottom of a Hugelkultur raised bed.  

Have a composting question? Call or email our Rotline at: (760) 436-7986 x700 or

Composting Workshops throughout San Diego County

Join us for a 2-hour presentation where you will learn the basics of backyard composting and vermicomposting (composting with worms).  Using trial-tested advice and interactive demonstrations, our expert educators will teach you all you need to know to get started with a bin that fits your needs and lifestyle. Offered throughout San Diego County, there's sure to be a workshop near you!

Composting Workshop in San Diego

  • Saturday, January 21, 2017
  • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Kumeyaay Community Garden in San Diego
  • FREE
  • Space is limited
  • Funded by the City of San Diego

This native community garden is named Sa'mall Lly Hapsh, which means flower that blooms in Kumeyaay.



Composting Workshop in 4S Ranch

  • Saturday, January 28, 2017
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • 4S Ranch Community Garden
  • FREE ($20 Refundable deposit required to hold your space)
  • Space is limited
  • Funded by the County of San Diego

We'll also be RAFFLING off a FREE compost bin, worm bin, or kitchen scrap caddy to TWO lucky attendees!



Composting Workshop in El Cajon

  • Saturday, February 4, 2017
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • The Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon
  • FREE ($20 Refundable deposit required to hold your space)
  • Space is limited
  • Subsidized bins and composting accessories will be sold
  • Funded by the County of San Diego

We’ll be raffling off a free compost bin or worm bin, and a compost thermometer to two lucky attendees! Stay after the workshop to explore this wonderful botanic garden and water conservation demonstration site.


Encinitas Passes Ban to be Foam Free

We are proud to have contributed to the historic Styrofoam™ (Expanded Polystyrene foam) food container ban in Encinitas. The Encinitas City Council voted in favor of a ban on November 9th, 2016. Solana Center partnered with the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project to raise awareness and educate the community about the environmental impacts of Styrofoam™ on our oceans and marine life.

Read more

Solana Center volunteer Anne Peterson

Volunteer Spotlight      

Anne Peterson has been a devoted Solana Center volunteer since graduating from the Carlsbad Master Composter course in 2013.  Growing up in England, she learned to love the land at an early age because her family grew almost everything they ate and composted what they did not.  She is now a Carlsbad local, a realtor, and a great enthusiast of worm composting.  Anne loves to travel, garden, and is an avid reader.  She has helped us at many of our school programs, booth events, and workshops. She also includes our events in her e-newsletter. In her words, "I'm just glad that any type of composting has become such a popular thing to do."

Want to join our family of volunteers? Email our Volunteer Coordinator at

Shop Amazon Smile & Support Solana Center

It's easy to support Solana Center this holiday when you shop on Amazon!

How to Participate
1. Go to and log in as you would to your regular Amazon account.
2. Type "Solana Center" into the search field to designate Solana Center as the beneficiary.
3. Every time you shop on Amazon, go to instead of the regular homepage.

If you have attended a workshop, enjoy receiving this newsletter and support composting, recycling, food waste recovery and protection of our region's precious resources, please consider making a donation to support our environmental work in the community. Even the smallest donation makes a significant difference!

Wish List

If anyone has any of these items that they'd like to donate...please email Diane Hazard at Thank you!

  • Surge protectors
  • An iPhone 4S charging cable in good condition
  • Old PCs or parts
  • Cordless drill
  • Digging bar
  • Pole saw

Special Thanks to Our Donors and Supporters

Mary Ann Stone, Pamela Blumenthal, Adele Josepho, Anne Peterson, Jason Giessow, Recycled Products Coop, Barbara Potts, Pia Piscitelli, James Beyster

This newsletter was made possible through generous support from