The Hobbit restaurant on 81stStreet will begin a formal composting project, after owner Garvey Heiderman received an OK from the Board of Zoning Appeals. 

(May 22, 2020) Garvey Heiderman, owner of The Hobbit restaurant on 81st Street, has made huge strides in his efforts to create a composting program after he received Board of Zoning Appeals approval.

“The plan for this year, to summarize it, is to compost stuff from The Hobbit. Now that Ryan James [is] going to be right next-door, if we can work something out, we might try to compost there too,” Heiderman said during last week’s Ocean City Green Team meeting.  

James is co-owner of Mother’s Cantina restaurant, which is opening a new location on 78th Street. 

Although Heiderman said he did not have the formal permit yet, the successful board hearing should make the rest fall into place relatively easily. 

“That is step one, this is the formal starting point,” Heiderman said. “We did the pilot program a couple years ago, [but] got shot down last year by an HOA next to the site we were shooting for, so this is very good news.”

In September 2018, Heiderman, in conjunction with the Go Green OC group, launched a four-week pilot program at Heiderman’s restaurant to collect data in preparation for a large-scale composting project. 

The result was almost 2,000 pounds of waste, with every single dinner sold generating 1.23 pounds of food waste, Josh Chamberlain, founder and executive director of the group, previously told Ocean City Today. 

This potentially meant year-round, The Hobbit was producing roughly 33,000 pounds of food waste. 

Rather than letting that waste, well, go to waste, Heiderman’s goal was to turn it into compost, which is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. 

Compost is made of three key ingredients: browns — dead leaves, twigs, branches; greens — grass clippings, vegetable waste and coffee grounds; and water. 

It not only has excellent agricultural benefits, but also is phenomenal in preventing runoff, as it has great moisture retention. 

The goal for this year, Heiderman said, is to get his feet wet and work out all of the variables before expanding the project to other local restaurants. 

“The goal would be to understand what the recipe of Ocean City input material would be like, so what we would need for the carbon source, and also just try to understand the process and scaling it,” Heiderman said. 

The restaurant owner also said he had been in talks with Ben Grumbles, state secretary of the environment, who told Heiderman his project was exactly what state legislators and local municipalities were encouraging people to do — a fiscally responsible alternative to the traditional recycling market, which constantly shifts and grows in cost. 

Ocean City eliminated its all-encompassing recycling program in 2010 to cut down on costs, and saves approximately $500,000 a year. 

Heiderman will personally transport all compost material to his site in Bishopville, and do the composting manually.

“Again, this is the starting point, I know we’re not going to get appropriate funding or anything like that, but that is the ultimate goal — to somehow finagle our way in there [the budget],” Heiderman said.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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