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Monday, March 15, 2010

Community Composting

March is a busy time in the garden and for gardeners. In NYC, 2 big events happen every year in March, Making Brooklyn Bloom and the GreenThumb GrowTogether. Both are great networking events and help to kick off the gardening season. I attended Making Brooklyn Bloom 2010 this weekend. With the theme, Soil in the City, the workshops focused on dirt in its many meanings. One workshop highlighted the OASIS mapping site as a way to dig up the dirt on your garden or any property. Several workshops were devoted to composting - making new soil from organic waste. The one that I attended that is key to the concept of sustainable community gardens and sustainable cities was a workshop on Community Composting. Community Gardens can be a important piece of the urban composting puzzle and several possibilities were presented. Community Gardeners have tried a number of methods of "community composting" . Gardens take food scraps from neighbors. While this is a way to help reduce waste, to truly make a difference in behaviors, one garden allows neighbors to drop off their kitchen scraps but also asks them to help by adding the scraps to the appropriate bin or to help aerate or turn the compost. The Fort Greene Compost Project, a group of gardeners (really composters who are community garden members) collect vegetable waste and kitchen scraps at the local Greenmarket in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The project now collects 1500 pounds per week that gets composted at 5 sites as well as taken back by the farmers to upstate farms. Since the volunteers incur expenses to transport the waste material, they now ask for a donation from those who drop off the waste to help make this project sustainable. There are problems with rodents and odor at some of the community garden composting sites. It is difficult to make this type of project work entirely with volunteers. This would be an ideal project to receive city funds or grants. Another group of community gardeners collected leaves dropped off by neighbors in the fall as a response to the city cutting funding for curbside fall leaf collection. One of the gardens uses some of the leaf matter to grow mushrooms. This is yet another in the array of techniques that could be used in a distributed community composting suite of programs. Community Composting an important piece of the Sustainable Community Gardens, Sustainable Neighborhoods, Sustainable Cities picture.

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