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MasonicThe Masonic Home in Union City is a retirement and resident care community that occupies 267 acres in the East Bay Hills (San Francisco Bay area). The land was purchased by the Masons in 1893, and was devote of native trees and shrubs. The land was denuded of its oak forest by the early Spaniards for wood prior to the Mexican independence in 1821. The hillsides were used mainly for cattle grazing by the Mexican rancheros and even after California independence in 1846. That practice continues today. Prior to the rancheros, the native Ohlone used the oak forest as a source of food (acorns) and the habitat was rich with other birds and mammals for hunting. The origin of the oak forest goes back to 3-4 million years as the area emerged as land. During the Ice Age there is fossil evidence of a large oak savannah. The Hayward Fault uplifted the area to create the East Bay Hills (part of the Diablo Range). This restoration project is reforesting a now barren area with a community of California native live oaks and associated plants using compost from food waste, horse manure, and native soil. The food waste comes from the Masonic Home (2 tons per week) and the horse manure from a nearby horse stable. The compost helps to enrich depleted soil so they can sustain trees. This long term conservation activity will restore habitat and soil while educating the community through volunteer opportunities.


old The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 brought streams of pioneers to California, many of whom were Masons. As early as 1849, Masons from Sacramento-area lodges joined to form a charitable organization, and later a hospital, to assist brothers who arrived in Sacramento exhausted from the hardships endured along the Overland Trail and stricken by the reoccurring cholera outbreaks. In the devastating aftermath of the epidemic, they realized that California Masons needed a facility to care for their widows and orphans. By 1876 Masonry in California had grown to the point that Grand Lodge launched the plan to provide shelter and protection for Masonic widows and orphans. Masonic Home was built on 268 acres of land at a cost of $33,093. The cornerstone of the original building was laid on October 4, l896 and the Home officially opened on October 12, l898. The modern Freemasonry society is thought to come from Great Britain during the early 1700’s. The modern society came together when the stonemasons created a Grand lodge in London in 1717. The grand lodge is the main administrative body which governs all lower level lodges belonging to the Freemasons. Freemasonry fraternity grew rapidly spreading across the world. By 1730, the first lodge was built in Philadelphia, and others were quickly built. Many of the masons were great leaders during the American revolution, such as, John Hancock and Paul Revenues who were members of the St Andrews lodge in Boston. Years later in 1752, George Washington became a member. Over time, the United States have had 13 presidents who have been members of the freemasons. Today the Masonic Home for Adults at Union City combines elegant assisted living with the latest advances in geriatric healthcare. The California Department of Social Services licenses the Masonic Home for Adults - an integral part of the Masonic Homes of California, a non-profit California Corporation.


compostingThe literature on the use of onsite food waste for medium sized restoration using an in-vessel composter technology is limited. A summary report by the EPA (Henry and Bergeron, 2005) on compost used in forest land restoration has no example of smaller localized food waste compost mixtures. However, there is strong evidence that the addition of organic matter (of any origin) improves permeability and porosity; cation exchange diversity, buffers pH changes, and changes density of soil. Composting improves the physical soil characteristics and soil stability is influenced by aggregate formation to allow for percolation into the ground and can bind or degrade heavy metal pollutants (Brady and Weil, 2000, Singer and Munns, 2002). Most of these studies used large commercial offsite composters or waste treatment compost that take significantly more time to compost. The literature also suggests that increase microbial diversity from the compost will help promote seedling growth (Bonnette, J., and R.E. Green, 1995). Extrapolating from the use of compost from commercial biowaste units, we concluded that food waste diversion provides a safe method for onsite soil amendments that can be used in reforestation (Platt, Ross, and Poland, 2012).The smaller in-vessel units are not common in restoration efforts. Most compost mixtures from these types of units are used in organic gardening. We wanted to have a unit that we can control the type of compost that we create including carbon to nitrogen ratio, texture, and microfauna. We installed an in-vessel composter in September, 2012 at the Masonic Home site and have been producing compost with a 2 month turn around for use in reforestation. Green Mountain Technologies has developed “The Earth Flow” which is an in-vessel system that converts up to two tons of weekly organic waste into compost. Shredded woody, green waste and horse manure are added to the system so decomposition will produce rich compost ready to be used in restoration within 2-4 months. The design incorporates a fully enclosed vessel and odor control system with an inclined auger for mixing, shredding, and discharging the organic waste. The typical process time for the waste to flow through the vessel is 14 to 21 days which is then monitored in piles before spreading and planting.Using the proven mixing technology of the inclined auger, the Earth Flow automates auger movement to create one of the most sophisticated in-vessel composting systems on the market. The Earth Flow is capable of composting between 300 lbs and 3000 lbs per day of biodegradables (depending upon system size). The Earth Flow system excels at producing compost of superior quality. The auger mixes, breaks up, and aerates the compost producing an extremely friable (e.g., light and fluffy) mix. Oxygenating compost creates a rich environment for beneficial microorganisms which break down the material quickly.The design of the Earth flow uses “Plug flow” which means that raw waste is added into one end of the vessel and compost comes out the other end. In the process, the auger also moves the compost slowly toward the discharge end of the vessel. Once materials arrive at the discharge end, the hot composting phase is complete and the material is ready to be discharged from the system. We are reforesting the area with live oak plant series (about 30 different species of native trees, shrubs, and flowers). We are using compost from food waste, horse manure, and landscape waste. In theory the compost will enrich depleted soil to sustain native trees, shrubs, and flowers. This long term (10-20 years) conservation activity will restore soil, plant communities, and increase habitat for native wildlife.We currently are planting 3-7 year old plants. We are also planting in areas where cattle still roam, but putting added protection around the plants or seeds. Funds from this project are from Tri-Ced Recycling and Masonic Home. Plants and seeds are coming from Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon and California Historical Park, where the Math Science Nucleus maintains small nurseries. The establishment of trees will reduce the carbon imprint while improving habitat for birds (including raptors like the golden eagle, kites, and other large birds) and native mammals, amphibians and reptiles that have survived the urbanization of the San Francisco Bay.Volunteers learn how to safely compost food waste using a combination of in-vessel composting and creating piles that will be used for keeping the trees with nutrients. A program that is well managed will allow the compost to be used effectively. This will prevent trees and shrubs from dying. We project that the food waste can be used onsite for 10-20 years. The visibility of this program will also allow other areas that could be reforested in the immediate area. East Bay Regional Park with its thousands of acres surrounds this site.
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