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!

The Gutiérrez-Hubbell House Workshop Series Has Resumed

After missing a year due to Covid restrictions, we are now able to resume offering the quarterly composting workshop series at the beautiful and historic Gutiérrez-Hubbell House. For details and registration, please see GutiĆ©rrez-Hubbell House Backyard Composting Series.

Some Live Classes Have Resumed

Due to coronavirus restrictions we had to cancel many many classes over the past year and a half. We have gotten the go-ahead to start in-person classes again and some are now being offered. Please see the schedule and keep checking for new offerings. And, as always, 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 View Some of Our Classes Online

We have online presentations for three of our popular classes: Home Composting Basics, Composting with Worms, and Amending Desert Garden Soil. Classes are presented by BCE Master Composters. Please see our Class Schedule Page for a link and details.

Would you like to host an on-line composting presentation for your organization?

At your request, master composters will schedule and then teach on-line presentations for your group via Zoom or your preferred platform. Presentations will be from one to one and a half hours in length and will include group participation. Class topics and descriptions are at the bottom of our Classes and Activities for the Public page. In some instances, we may be able to tailor the presentation for your organization. Requests for a specific topic, along with date and time, may be sent to Please send your request at least 30 days prior to the proposed date. We will be in touch with you to satisfy your request and answer your questions.

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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.

Small sheet mulch bed
Photo courtesy of Michael Lawlor

Have You Tried Sheet Mulching?

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

More about Persistent Herbicides

Your plants can be harmed by herbicides even if you are gardening organically. Please see our new article Why You Should Be Aware Of Persistent Herbicides, Even If You Are An Organic Gardener.

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.

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.

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.

Drawing indicating air flow in a compost pile (small)

Learn More About Convective Air Flow in a Compost Bin

Read our 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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