That Compost Contains What?

Privy 2 Corn plot near 18th Avenue Library

A small plot of corn popped up this spring on The Ohio State University campus and, as the adage goes, the stalks are standing knee-high by the Fourth of July.

The crop is growing in soil amended with Com-Til, a compost product made with residual biosolids from the City of Columbus’ wastewater treatment plants.

The corn patch is the public installment of a research collaboration led by Nick Kawa, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Forbes Lipschitz, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Knowlton School, to look at the human waste stream. Kawa and Lipschitz are faculty hires in the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT).

Funded by a 2018 InFACT Linkage and Leverage grant, the project considers the long history of using human waste as an agricultural resource – and what that looks like today in central Ohio.

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