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History of Our Program

Students and teacher at an outdoor Master Composter training class. Sandia Mountains in the background.

John Zarola teaching Master Composter Training

At Open Space Visitor Center, 2011

Photo courtesy of Danny Skinz

Master Composter training is an active program in several hundred locations in the USA and Canada (1996 Survey). The first USA program was established in Seattle, WA, in 1986 and remains a role model for other programs. x

There was a program in Albuquerque in the early 1990s but it only lasted a few years. Then, after a sixteen year hiatus, the program was reactivated in the Spring of 2010. This was accomplished with the support and collaboration of Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners, the Bernalillo County Co-op Extension Service, the City of Albuquerque Solid Waste Management DepartmentNM Recycling Coalition, the NM Environment Department Solid Waste Bureau, and Soilutions, Inc.. The 2010 program was supported, in part, by a grant from the Rio Grande Basin Initiative. The grant was written by Joran Viers, then Bernalillo County Extension Horticulture Agent.


John Zarola provided the inspiration and energy and hard work to bring these entities together to start the program and to organize the first training.


In May 2010, 29 people completed Master Composter Volunteer Training. We have held similar trainings most years since then.

In October, 2010, we formed an association to provide a structure for the support and maintenance of the Master Composter education program and its graduates.

In October, 2011, we were granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the IRS.

Between 2010 and 2019, Master Composter trainings were class-based. We offered trainings in the spring or fall of most of these years.


In 2020, we took a year off from offering the training because of the covid pandemic.


In 2021, we initiated mentor/apprentice trainings.

Master Composters teach composting in schools, organizations, and at special events in the middle Rio Grande region. Here is a list of classes and other activities we have offered to the public over the years.

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