Here's An Idea: Community Composting Stations / by Ryan Koch

Seeing is believing: a working community compost station in Michigan

Seeing is believing: a working community compost station in Michigan

Jodie K. my partner of 15 years, recently sent me this photograph as she traveled in Michigan. She included a message: I saw this pile of rotting vegetables and it made me think of you. How’s that for a belated Valentine’s text?! But she knows me, and she knew it would make my heart sing. This photo was speaking a thousand words to me. Without knowing the whole story, I have a sense of what is going on in this pile in Traverse City and why it is important.

As you may know, recent studies estimate that 40% of the food grown in the United States ends up in our landfills. Here in Lexington, a waste audit in 2008 showed that 29% of our waste stream was organic material that could be composted. Since 2009, we at Seedleaf have been doing our part to pick up pre-consumer food waste from restaurants and kitchens throughout Lexington, diverting that material out of the landfills and into our gardens as finished compost. (We call this our Compost Partners service.) We have been inspiring and educating area citizens about what they can be doing to take responsibility for their home waste stream. We are field testing small solutions to these systemic problems, and we are poised to do much more.

We are offering our Compost Carpool as a solution for Fayette County residents who want to push the easy button with regard to their home food waste. You can learn more about that and sign up right here. This is the residential version of the Compost Partners service, which has the support of the city of Lexington (LFUCG), Division of Waste Management.

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Throughout the rollout of the Compost Carpool, we meet people who are willing to do the work of being even more involved. They are willing to move their kitchen waste themselves, by car, or even by bike! These folks are our kind of weirdos—we salute this level of responsibility. And we are trying to find more outlets for these passionate people.

In order to accommodate this level of interest, we are planning to establish and manage (as needed) more Community Composting Stations. To do this we will need to locate more spaces like the North Pole Community Garden at 909 North Lime. At that site we have several cinderblock compost bins with simple signs that orient visitors to the composting effort, specifically where the can drop off their prep waste, and sometimes, where they can pick up finished compost for their garden. And there’s nothing special about cinder blocks—the piles can be contained in pallet bins, or in something like the container seen here.

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Is there space in your neighborhood for a Community Composting Station? We would love to help neighbors and neighborhood associations set these up all over town. This level of civic engagement, partnering with neighbors to take responsibility for our waste stream, is one of the small acts that can make a big difference. If this is the right intervention for your home or neighborhood, please contact us today for a free half hour consult.