Let’s get a wood chipper! Why a wood chipper?

jd_494802_642x462The mindful community here at New Life are steadily generating innovative projects to better serve the community, while respecting the environment. Waste reduction, as well as resource reduction are ongoing missions for us concerned citizens. In the past year, we have reduced our landfill contribution by about 70%. New Life now recycles the bulk majority of its waste. Sustainable agriculture is another major undertaking at New Life. The farm to table project is in full bloom, with the hopes that the majority of the food we serve will be homegrown – talk about organic and self sufficient!

So how does this tie in with the prospective wood chipper?

Currently, our wood waste is either left to decay naturally, or burned.
Left to decay takes time, and the wood waste takes up space. Studies have shown that burning wood can be detrimental to both human and environmental health. In certain areas, wood smoke causes more respiratory illness and deaths than smog. In addition to human health hazard, wood smoke contains several toxic harmful air pollutants including benzene, formaldhyde, acrolein and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

dscf7531Alternatively, if wood is not burned, but left to naturally decompose in the earth, its concentrated source of carbon serves to highly nourish the complex soil ecology. Typically, carbon is just one of the many essential nutrients required for our crops to thrive. So we need to find friendly ways to add carbon to our garden soil.

So what if we came up with a way to eliminate the harmful effects of burning wood, while adding carbon naturally to the soil? Lightbulb moment! Wood chips! Let’s get a wood chipper! Instead of burning our wood waste, we could be producing wood chips, to naturally blanket our gardens. Covering the soil with wood chips has a surprising amount of benefits.

Chipping significantly reduces water evaporation, thereby minimizing the need for watering. The wood chips also tend to absorb moisture from the air at night and release it back into the soil during the day when the plants need it most. Wood chips serve as a great insulation blanket for the soil and moderates the temperatures in summer and winter.

Wood chips can also help drastically reduce our weeding efforts! The weeds that do grow can be easily pulled out by their roots, so it becomes relatively effortless to keep the area clean. Another major benefit is the decrease in need for fertilizers. At New Life, we tend to use the cow manure, mixed with other organic materials. But this is time consuming, kinda messy, and pretty stinky!

dscf7501Wood chip covered soil also naturally generates an increase in useful bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes. All helpful to the long term sustainability of the soil. And there’s more! Can you believe that wood chips also attract earthworms? Worms create vermicompost—one of the best composts on the planet. We have been trying to establish earthworm farms here at New Life, but it is very time consuming, and increases the need for man power. It is far more efficient to feed the worms that are already in our soil. They love wood chips and leaves and rapidly reproduce. Earth worms galore!

So…let’s get a wood chipper! How?

As a non profit organization, we are committed to keeping costs accessible to support as many people in need as possible. This means that we will be doing some fundraising for this exciting new project.

We warmly welcome and encourage your ideas, feedback, and support.


  1. Wood chips are good for many of the reasons you stated but be sure not to use them close to your house because they also draw ants and demites. A better use for your wood refuse would be to make biochar. A well made biochar cooker creates very little smoke. Biochar as charchoal sequesters the carbon to the earth and when ground up and added in equal quantities with compost and decent garden soil will create a super soil called trerra perta. The formula was developed by the south American Indians in the Amazon thousands of years ago. See the article at http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar/soils

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