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Composting creates heat - we're putting it to work! Our compost heat recovery system innovates this technology for widespread use.
Composting creates heat - we're putting it to work! Our compost heat recovery system innovates this technology for widespread use.
310 backers pledged $40,336 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Join Us for a Weekend Intensive on Compost Heat Recovery!

Dear Supporters, 

 We are now opening up Hacking the Heat: A Compost Heat Recovery Weekend Intensive to all of our supporters as well as the public. We wanted to target you and your friends with the first blast of outreach. We only have 6 spots left so sign up ASAP! 

 The weekend will include visits of two on-farm compost heat recovery (CHR) systems as well as a tour of Highfields Research and Education Facility’s ongoing CHR systems development. Saturday will include a presentation on compost thermodynamics from Bob Rynk, Editor of the On-Farm Composting Handbook! Sunday will include a Pain Mound build out with Compost Power’s founder Gaelan Brown!! And we’ll have special guests from Agrilab Technologies, designers of the world’s premier compost heat recovery technology for most of the weekend!!! 

 The program will be as follows: 

 Saturday November 16th 

8:30 AM: Meet at Highfields Research Education Facility for Coffee and Introductions 

9:00 AM: Composting Science and Systems Review 

9:30 AM: Hacking the Heat: Introduction to Compost Heat Recovery Systems 

10:30 AM: Drive to Jasper Hill Farm 

11:00 AM: Jasper Hill Farm – Green Machine Tour 

12:15 PM : Lunch (BYOL or pick up in Hardwick)– Caravan to Auburn Star Farm in Lunenburg. 

2:15 PM: Auburn Star Farm – Tour With Conan Eaton 

3:30-4:00: End of Day 1 

 Sunday November 17th 

8:30 AM: Meet at Highfields Research Education Facility for Coffee and Site Tour 

9:30 AM: Pain Mounds: Gaelan Brown Introduction 

10:15 AM: Build Highfields’ Pain Mound 

12:00 PM : Lunch (BYOL – most stuff will be closed in Hardwick) 

3:30-4:00: End of Day 2 

 The workshop is bring your own lunch (picking up lunch on Saturday is also an option) and coffee and snacks will be provided. 

COST: Suggested Donation of $25-50 

 TO REGISTER: Visit and sign up with your name and e-mail! For registration questions please contact Nate Clark ( 

 See you soon! 


Hacking the Heat

Dear Supporters and fellow Hackers of the Heat,

Highfields is gearing up compost heat recovery (CHR) systems development going into the fall and will be offering a CHR workshop to qualifying supporters on Saturday November 16th and Sunday November 17th, which will include compost site tours and construction of a Pain Mound. All of our Kickstarter supporters are invited to join us at the first ever, Extreme Home Composting webinar on October 3 at 7:00 pm. Look for a separate email invitation with registration instructions for these events. Also be sure to check out our other fall workshops here (add link).

Since last winter here’s what we’ve been able to achieve thanks to your support:

• Last winter we began comprehensive assessment and data collection at two of the world’s most premier and innovative compost heat recovery systems, both located right here in the Vermont’s North East Kingdom. At both Jasper Hill Farm and Auburn Star Farm we closely monitored Btu output and its relationship to hot airflow from the compost and both systems have seen significant improvements. Furthermore, we have benchmarks for these two unique systems and scales, from which to improve upon in future designs and management techniques.

• We’ve convened a working group from Highfields Compost Research and Education Advisory Board, including composting gurus from VT Compost Company, SUNY Cobbleskill, Agrilabs Technologies, City Soil and Greenhouse, Compost Power, and on-farm renewable energy specialists from VT Agency of Agriculture.

• We’ve increased the working budget for the project by almost 50% through the support of several new foundational grants and we’ve partnered with several members of R & E working group on a NE-SARE compost heat recovery grant that if received would further galvanize northeast composters and researchers as THE world leaders in CHR R & D.

• We’ve defined and are developing conceptual designs for the first phase of Highfields CHR systems, which will include the following:

o A “plug and play” radiant heating system connection for our worm parlor, site office, and shop. The system will be capable of quick connect/disconnect and monitoring of any CHR system we should choose to experiment with this winter and into the future.

o Connection of our “radiant” composting floor and construction of two more.

o Conversion of our compost aeration system to run negative air (pulling air rather than pushing air through large amounts of HOT compost), and design of quick connect/disconnect of air to air and air to water heat exchangers.

o Design and creation of one air to air and one air to water heat exchanger system.

o Design and creation of one Pain Mound style CHR system, with quick set-up/tear-down features.

• We’ll be presenting on Compost Heat Recovery at the Biocycle's Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling conference in October.

 That was a lot, so will have to stop there! Keep hacking the heat Y’all!!! 

 The Highfields Technical Team

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We've Reached the Goal! Thank you!

You’ve Done it – We have reached our goal!

Thanks to all of you, our awesome friends, family and partners we have successfully reached our fundraising goal of $40,000 to develop our compost heat recovery system!


But, don’t stop now.  Sure, the pressure is off and having reached our goal and the risk of not pulling the funding together is passed, but any additional funds that roll in will continue to support this great work and will help us ensure success.

For a little fun in celebrating this campaign and the possibilities of compost heat, check out Corin Hirsch's recent article, The Earthiest Roast, in Vermont's Seven Days Newspaper reviewing a wonderful meal of fish, Radicchio, garlic, rice, and red peppers cooked entirely in our hot compost by Suzanne Podhaizer of Salt Cafe in Montpelier.  Some pictures below of Suzanne and Tom after removing food from the 170F pile and our gourmet spread for celebrating the bounty of local food and compost heat!

Thanks for everyone’s support, generosity and vision.  Together we will bring new sources of local, renewable energy from compost heat to widespread application.  We look forward to remaining in touch and sharing our progress with you.  Let’s tie this thing up with a bow and maximize what we can do to raise funding to advance compost heat! THANK YOU!


In partnership,

Tom, Karen, James, Noah, Tyler, Alex, Echo, Julian, Bonnie, and the Highfields Board of Directors

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