Carbon County residents can learn about the benefits of composting and enjoy s'mores at the same time this weekend.

On Saturday, June 16, the Carbon County Master Gardeners, a service group of the Penn State Extension; and Mauch Chunk Lake Park, will team up to host a Composting and Campfire Concert at the park. The event, which is free to the public, will begin at 7 p.m., at the picnic area around the camp store.

Participants are asked to bring compostable items, such as veggie scraps, fruit scraps, coffee grounds or filters, tea bags or eggshells, which will be put into a composting bin. Meat, poultry, fish, oily foods, dairy products or pet manure will not be accepted.

In return for the compostable goods, residents will receive a coupon for a s'more. Children will then have the opportunity to identify animal tracks for more coupons for s'mores. There will also be campfire story time and folk songs by Tom Storm.

Slate Altenburg, a member of the Master Gardeners, explained that composting is a good way to help the environment and make rich soil that can be used for planting.

"Our idea for this is fun with a purpose," he said. "We're trying to spread the word about the value of doing composting and what you get from it. You pay as much per pound for the core of the apple as the rest of the apple so why not use it all."

Composting is the process of organic material, such as fruit and veggie scraps, being broken down by microorganisms. The broken down material creates a rich, nutrient-filled soil.

"The finished product is one of the finest soil amendments a gardener can have," Altenburg explained. "We call it 'gardeners gold.' When added to the soil it improves both water holding properties and aeration, loosens Pennsylvania's heavy clay soil and allows both water and roots to move more easily through it. Additionally compost carries many of the micronutrients that plants need, and as it decomposes, it produces the weak acids that allow the minerals and nutrients to move more rapidly into the soil solutions where the plants can take advantage of them."

Members of the Master Gardeners will also be in attendance at the campfire for one-on-one discussions about composting and examples of composters available to the public.

The campfire will be held in a grove just in front of the camp store. Anyone attending the event should use the main gate to the park. Signs will be posted showing how to get to the event.

For more information or questions, call Altenburg at (570) 386-4631 or Mauch Chunk Lake Park at (570) 325-3669.