Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 18, 2012.


Composting creates heat - we're putting it to work! Our compost heat recovery system innovates this technology for widespread use.

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's offers a 1:1 challenge - Every dollar you pledge today, Jerry will personally match up to $2500!  Read Jerry's challenge to you in Update 6!


Limited number: Vermicompost-tea brewing kits (for your plants, not for you)

Single-quart vermicompost-tea brewing kit. Also available in triple-quart version.
Single-quart vermicompost-tea brewing kit. Also available in triple-quart version.

Check out our updates on compost heat tech systems! Click on the update tab above.

Compost in the Food System

We need local food and we need local inputs – like compost and renewable heat, to produce that food. Composting provides a wonderful mechanism for capturing locally generated nutrients, organic matter in food scraps (what you scrape from your cutting board and plate) and manures – recycling them back into soil for growing the next generations of crops. Compost helps build soil that is durable, resistant to erosion and disease, and grows crops that are healthy for you while mitigating the use of synthetic and mined fertilizers, toxic pesticides, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Innovating Compost Heat Recovery 

Developing compost heat recovery at Highfields’ Compost Research and Education Facility is an effort to take a process that is fundamental to sustainable food and farm systems, composting, and develop new technology to yield a second value from the process – renewable energy in the form of recovered heat. With your support this system will advance this emerging technology and improve its effectiveness and efficiency, all the while bringing down the entry-level costs associated with it. In keeping with our organizational culture of appropriate technology for the people, we’ll make our understanding and designs of these systems available to everyone – ‘copy-lefting’ open-source designs.  

Check out our open-source designs for a compost windrow turner here

You will be investing in renewable energy innovation that you, farmers in your communities, and people across the globe can utilize and benefit from. This is technology and innovation by the people and for the people. 

The process of composting generates tremendous amount of heat, which results from the biological activity occurring during composting, primarily bacterial metabolism of organic Carbon. A big fat handful of active compost contains a bacterial population much greater than the human population on earth. Those little buggers are living large in an environment we create just for them and they are so abundant that they produce body heat that collectively generates temperatures of 140º-160º F over a period of several months. We can harness that heat. Compost heat can be captured and transferred for heating water, greenhouses, barns, and other heat applications. But the technology is still very much in the early stages of development and we want to bring it much further along in order to popularize it and bring it to farms and other applications everywhere... maybe even your house. 

Bill McKibben Endorses Us!

Friend and ally Bill McKibben – described by Time Magazine as the "World’s Best Journalist", author of Eaarth and so many other important books, and founder of – is pretty excited about the prospects of compost heat. Check out what Bill has to say about compost heat recovery and why he’s supporting the Highfields’ Kickstarter campaign.

Compost Research and Education 

This effort is part of our larger effort to build a dynamic state-of-the-art compost research and education facility that will advance non-toxic, regenerative farming practices. Ultimately, we will need to raise over $550,000 – of which we have already raised half. If we can raise more than our goal of $40,000 for the heat recovery system, the additional funds will go to our broader facility development, which includes multiple approaches and scales of composting including turned windrows, aerated static piles, large scale vermicomposting (worm composting), small scale composting systems, livestock mortality composting, and most importantly, compost heat recovery. Interested? Learn more on the campaign or check out our Spring update

Building Regenerative Systems from the Grassroots

Let’s talk straight for a minute. Ever wonder why it would seem that Cargill and Monsanto own and control the destiny of our global food system? Aside from their massive concentrations of wealth and strategically integrated organizational design – they are driving the ship through research and development. They know how to vertically integrate the food system. They invest in the development of new systems, technologies and methods. 

Have a different vision of the future for you and your community? Want to create communities and food systems that are decentralized, self-sustaining, and ecologically and socially regenerating? 

So do we. 

If we are going to do it, we all need to invest in that future with the same level of self-interest and conviction that Cargill and Monsanto do in their future market share and profit centers. So, if the idea of creating stackable functions, like integrating nutrient and disease management on farms with renewable heat generation through composting sounds good, then help us invest in the R&D of the future: our communities. 

The Fruit – Outcomes and Rewards

The final outcome of this effort will power our operations and help us offset the fossil energy we use to heat our worm parlor, site office, and shop each winter. As importantly it will be a functioning and actively used R&D system to advance compost heat recovery and turn out greater DIY designs and systems for you. This endeavor will allow us the ability to figure out how this system works the best possible way. Since we are developing a research system, unlike other Kickstarter projects that are producing products, our incentives don’t promise you a heat recovery system delivered to your door. We’re offering related, and practical, gifts that you will enjoy and benefit from today, while committing to providing on-going outcomes and benefits, like open-source designs and data from our research, going into the future. The real outcomes will ultimately be the benefits this technology will bring to sustaining local food production. When our heat recovery system is built and honed – our designs will be online for you to download and implement. The blueprints will be there so that you can build one into your growing operation; your home; your community center. Circle up and chip in however you can, get your friends involved, and together we can design the community and farm infrastructure of the future. Thank you for your support to this project – like all of Highfields’ work, we promise to stretch your investment as far as possible and keep delivering real outcomes that will be available to you and your community members as they develop.

Thank you so much for your support!

Click here to learn more!

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  • Pledge $5 or more
    You selected

    40 backers

    You will be recognized as a supporter of the HCC thermal recovery system in our printed materials and we will send you a "Close the Loop" fridge magnet, featuring a list of what you can compost. Help friends and family keep composting front and center in the home!

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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    27 backers

    You will be invited to participate in an exclusive home composting webinar. Join us for a one-hour composting workshop on the basics of good composting practices. The workshop will be followed by a Q&A with Highfields staff. You will be recognized as a project supporter and we'll send you a "Close the Loop" magnet.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    38 backers

    Join us for a tour of the Highfields Compost Research & Education site. We host a monthly site tour, so you can choose a date that fits your schedule. You will learn about community composting, systems and technology, and compost biology. You can also gift the tour to a friend if you don't live in the area. You will also receive recognition for supporting the project, an invite the the exclusive home composting webinar, and either a "Close the Loop" magnet or our "Compost Only!" bumper sticker.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    25 backers All gone!

    We will send you a kit to make vermicomost-tea. The tea will have magical results with your house and garden plants. You can also use the vermicompost -an extra high quality compost created by worms- on its own to top-dress house and garden plants. Kit includes one U.S.-made muslin brew bag, one compostable U.S.-made measuring/mixing spoon, one quart Vermont-made vermicompost, and directions on how to brew your vermi-tea, the miracle tea of tomorrow. Don't drink it. This kit is sure to please all of the plants and plant-loving people in your family!

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  • Pledge $35 or more
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    4 backers All gone!

    Full 2013 calendar featuring the "Hotties of Humus," a calendar just as steamy as our compost piles. Gift them for the holidays, get one for yourself or buy one for your mechanic so that his garage has some more tasteful decoration. See our new update for a preview. See mechanic special reward package below.

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  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    7 backers Limited (18 left of 25)

    We will send you a vermicomost-tea triple kit. Results are even more magical than the single kit. Don't drink this one either - you might start fruiting tomatoes. Kit includes one U.S.-made muslin brew bag, one compostable U.S.-made measuring/mixing spoon, three quarts Vermont-made vermicompost, and directions on how to brew your vermi-tea, the miracle tea of tomorrow.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    45 backers

    Join us at the Highfields Compost Research & Education site for an in-depth workshop on compost heat recovery. You will have an opportunity to learn how this technology can be practically applied to your home or farm facility. You will also be recognized as a project supporter, receive an invitation to our home composting webinar, and get a "Close the Loop" magnet or the "Compost Only!" bumper sticker.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    30 backers

    You will receive one quart of our power-packed HCC double-screened vermicompost, an invite to our home composting webinar, a site tour of the Highfields Compost Research & Education facility, recognition as a project supporter, a "Close the Loop" magnet and the "Compost Only!" bumper sticker.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $250 or more
    You selected

    12 backers

    Same as above, plus all three workshops (webinar, site tour and heat recovery workshop) and a limited edition Highfields Composting t-shirt.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    4 backers

    Same as above, and you will be recognized as a Program Sponsor of Highfields Compost Research and Education facility on our printed and online materials. Additionally, we'll provide an hour of free phone technical assistance in composting to your favorite school.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    Same as above, but you will be recognized as a Program Leader, and we will provide 2 hours of free technical services to you, your favorite school or business, or your local farmer. If you are within 35 miles of Hardwick, we'd be happy to provide the service in person, otherwise by phone or skype.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (60 days)