A traveling HORSE

Posted 9/27/22

NARROWSBURG, NY — A Tusten sustainability staple could find a new home as part of a food-security pilot project.

The HORSE (High solids, Organic waste Recycling System with Electrical …

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A traveling HORSE


NARROWSBURG, NY — A Tusten sustainability staple could find a new home as part of a food-security pilot project.

The HORSE (High solids, Organic waste Recycling System with Electrical output) has recycled Tusten’s food scraps since 2021. The machine takes in food waste from local businesses and produces fertilizer suitable for organic farming as well as electricity. The Tusten Energy Committee (TEC) purchased it for the town with grants from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The success of the HORSE has led to possibilities for its expansion; if the machine had a full-time operator, it could produce even more fertilizer and even more electricity. That possibility could soon be realized, according to an August 29 letter from the TEC to the Tusten Town Board.

The TEC has partnered with growingSOUL, a nonprofit that creates sustainable, community-driven systems of food production and distribution, as a way of improving support for HORSE. GrowingSOUL is working with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to create a pilot project for a food-security center, and has recommended that the HORSE become part of that project.

The center will include a kitchen garden run by the CCE’s horticulture program, a commercial kitchen for growingSOUL’s food-production efforts, and a community cupboard to feed local residents in need. The addition of the HORSE would close the center’s loop, taking the scraps from the food-production part of the project and creating fertilizer for the kitchen garden. The center could also fund a full-time operator for the HORSE, giving the machine more to do along with more support and resources.

“The center would expand use of the Tusten HORSE in an integrated system, processing organics in a sustainable manner and produce plant food,” wrote the TEC. “The adjacent garden location will demonstrate the full cycle of the plant-food-product use.”

The catch: the center wouldn’t be in Tusten, but in the CCE complex in Liberty.

The TEC came to the Tusten Town Board with two requests at the board’s September 13 meeting. It requested permission to move the HORSE to the CCE’s food-security project in Liberty, and permission to apply for a DEC grant to cover the cost of the move.

The board didn’t feel comfortable moving the HORSE without more research. The terms of the original DEC grant (the one that financed the purchase of the HORSE) could prohibit the town from divesting itself of the machine, and would need to be examined. The board did authorize the TEC to apply for the new DEC grant, noting that the town could choose not to accept the grant if it turned out it couldn’t make the transfer.

93 Main Street

The board also made a resolution at its September 13 meeting that addressed the town property at 93 Main St.

Tusten acquired the former Wayne Bank building at 93 Main St. to use its parking lot as municipal parking. Since then, the town board has decided to rent it out to a private business.

On September 13, the board sent out a request for proposals (RFP) from interested businesses for the building’s use.

The RFP specifies that, at minimum, rent for the building would be $2,900 a month, with a three-percent increase each year. The tenant will be responsible for all required permits and expenses associated with the building.

During the meeting’s public comment period, Fabiana Lotito asked the board if it would automatically accept the highest bid, or if it would consider the qualities of the tenant business. “If a crappy business wants to offer you $2,900 and a great business wants to offer you $2,8[00], it’s not just the highest [bidder].”

“We’ll cross that bridge when you get to it,” said town attorney Ken Kline. “I think when you see the RFP, you’ll see [it] addresses some of that.”

“The town reserves the right to negotiate a final lease agreement that is in the best interests of the town and the public,” reads the RFP.

HORSE, Tusten Energy Committee, 93 Main Street, Wayne Bank building


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