Bernalillo County Extension Master Composter Program


Outdoor classroom centered around composting bin
Photo courtesy of Danny Skinz

Welcome to the website of Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters. BCEMC operates in the high desert of central New Mexico, USA. This includes Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, nearby counties, communities, and Native American pueblos. Our climate and weather significantly impact our composting practice. Our elevation is about 5000 feet above sea level. We have four distinct seasons. In the summer, we have frequent drying winds and intense ultraviolet radiation. We receive about 9 inches of precipitation annually. An important objective in any home composting setup in our area is to manage moisture.

The Master Composter organization provides basic composting classes for the general public and trains volunteers to teach these classes.

And remember...when in drought, spread the compost out!

Small sheet mulch bed
Photo courtesy of Michael Lawlor

Fall is an Excellent Time to Sheet Mulch

Please see our new article about Basic Backyard Sheet Mulching and get that bed started!

Coronavirus image

If a Class You'd Like to Take is Canceled ...

Due to coronavirus restrictions we have had to cancel many classes. We will work to reschedule them whenever we are able. In the meantime, please feel free to email us your questions and learn more about composting using the links to resources in the left-hand column of this page. Now is a good time to start a compost pile in your backyard or a bokashi bucket in your kitchen.

You Can Attend One of Our Classes On-Line

Composting with Worms, presented by BCE Master Composter Mary Green and sponsored by the Bachechi Open Space is available on-line. Please see our Class Schedule Page for a link and details.

It Is Safe to Compost During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Some have asked:

  • Can I continue to compost at home during the pandemic? (Yes!)
  • What about the leftover food that might have been coughed or sneezed on?
  • Can I continue to put my used tissues in my compost?
  • Are there extra precautions I should take?

For answers to these questions, please see Frequently Asked Questions about Residential Composting during the Covid-19 Pandemic from the US Composting Council.

Ten candle

It's Our 10th Anniversary Year!

The Master Composter program began in 2010 as a program of the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service. The first Master Composter Volunteer Training commenced on April 24, 2010. We formed the BCEMC Association on October 20, 2010. During these ten years, Master Composter volunteers have shared high desert home composting information with the public through free classes and information tables and workshops and a question and answer email hotline and brochures and demonstration sites and these web pages. We continue to hear from more and more people who are interested in learning about the various methods for composting at home and hope to continue this service for many years to come.

Backyard Composting Series Postponed at Gutiérrez-Hubbell House

Our workshops at the Gutiérrez-Hubbell House has been postponed until further notice. We hope to start them again as soon as we no longer need to be isolated. Check Gutiérrez-Hubbell House Backyard Composting Series for updates.

Concerned about Odors in Compost?

We've added a document to the website about Avoiding Unpleasant Odors in Composting. Check it out.

Looking for More Materials to Compost?

Please see our page Sources for Compost Feedstock. This lists local business who have food waste to contribute as well as ideas for where to find feedstock in your neighborhood and around your home.

Fire in commercial compost
Click photo for KRQE story

What Causes Compost Fires and How Can We Prevent Them?

In the summer of 2018, Albuquerque experienced a large fire in a commercial composting facility caused by spontaneous combustion of the compost. Spontaneous combustion in home compost piles is rare. However, the dramatic fire in Albuquerque inspired us to provide some information about the conditions that might lead to such a fire and how to prevent one. See Spontaneous Combustion in Compost.

Woman holding plastic bucket with holes

See Our Presentations on Homemade Compost Bins

Please check out our presentations for four types of compost bins you can make at home that are especially suited for our desert climate.

Learn How Best to Compost in the Desert

Composting in New Mexico has its special challenges. Composting in the Desert is our flyer specifically about composting in our part of the world, and newly revised May 2018. Also see Desert Composting Recommendations. For teachers, these materials are available on our composting handouts page.

Drawing indicating air flow in a compost pile (small)

Learn More About Convective Air Flow in a Compost Bin

Read our new webpage Convective Air Flow which includes a beautiful drawing by Master Composter intern Jenn Myers.

Sign Up for Our Mailing List

If you'd like to receive email about our longer workshops and master composter training you can sign up for our mailing list.

You Can Help Support BCEMC via AmazonSmile

Our organization has signed up to benefit from the AmazonSmile program. If you shop at Amazon and specify Bernalillo County Extension Master Composters as your charity, a percentage of what you spend will be donated to BCEMC. It's very easy to set up. Please see our Donations page for the details. Your support of BCEMC is much appreciated.

We Are

You can get to our site via the URL Master composters, please share it with your students. The URL,, works as well. Both will get you to the page you are on now.

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