StopWaste and partners embarked on the first Carbon Farming Plan in Alameda County last month starting with the application of compost on the Agency’s rangeland property in the Altamont Hills. This time next year, we anticipate that the project will have removed 10 tons of carbon from the air, the equivalent of 606 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or removed the emission created from 4,126 gallons of gasoline.
Agency Update - Winter 2020
Kelly Schoonmaker joined StopWaste in 2010. Prior to that, she worked as a landscape architect in San Francisco. She received her undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from University of California – San Diego, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.
What do you do at StopWaste?
As the lead for the Agency’s compost and mulch project, I am involved in a variety of activities. I educate landscape professionals and public agencies on compost and mulch, and also work on SB 1383-related activities. I also manage the Agency’s 1,600-acre rangeland property in the Altamont hills, where we have several tenants, including a rancher and a wind company that operates 20 wind turbines. In partnership with the Alameda County Resource Conservation District, we just started a carbon farming project there, and applied a thin layer of compost to study the efficacy of compost in pulling carbon from the atmosphere to reverse climate change. Recently we’ve started working with member agency cities to incorporate carbon farming into their Climate Action Plans, identifying urban sites where these practices could be incorporated.
What are your favorite parts of working for StopWaste?
That the work is so challenging and fulfilling. We are able to bring our values to work every day, and that’s incredible. Our day-to-day work is about figuring out how to do the right thing – so few people get to do that. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for my colleagues; there is more intelligence, diligence, and mutual respect here than anywhere else I’ve worked (and I’ve had like 35 jobs). I also enjoy working with our external partners, who feel like co-workers and are also so good at their jobs. I learn something new pretty much every day. I’m also fortunate that I can ride my bike to work. It takes me six minutes if I time the lights right.
How has working for StopWaste impacted you?
Working here has educated me on how complex and complicated the world is, that there is no perfect solution to anything, and that you just have to do your best. It has made me less idealistic but more hopeful.
Do you have a life motto?
Here’s a pet peeve that has grown into a motto: Don’t put anything that can’t compost into the green bin. I can get riled up about this issue at any moment. Putting glass and plastic in the green bin is a surefire way to spread glass and plastic throughout the soil and into our waterways. Gross!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
I have two pit bull mixes that take up a lot of my time and space. Other than that, I take up new things pretty regularly. Most recently, it was needle felting little effigies of animals. Before that, making shrubs and kombucha, knitting, boxing, yoga. It’s all over the map, and I’m a bit of a dilettante. I started qi gong in the fall, and I think that’s going to have some staying power, though. Ask me in a year!