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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Community Compost Garden

C4B Bike Trailer
The title of this post could have been Compost Community Garden or Garden (of) Community Compost but I chose Community Compost Garden. Let me explain. I recently visited the Compost for Brooklyn   or C4B garden, a site that I have heard much about but have never had the chance to visit. On a tiny - 45 X 50 foot lot, a small group has converted a vacant space to a very productive one. The space has a dozen compost bins, a couple of compost tumblers, a large compost sifting table and a small shed that collects rainwater. There are also native plantings scattered around the garden.
Browns and Greens
This project is the brainchild of Louise Bruce, a young woman I met a couple of years ago when she was a member of the Green Apple Corps (GAC), an environmental training program that is part of the Dept. of Parks in NYC. The GAC assisted me in the construction of a number of rainwater harvesting systems but Louise's passion was composting. She was able to convince a private landlord to allow her and a small group of helpers to take this vacant lot and turn it into a community compost center.
Rainwater Harvesting Shed
Their first fall they accepted lots of leaves that have turned into the soil base of the garden. They got help from a local woodworker who not only donates his wood shavings (which are a perfect 'brown' to add to all of the 'green' they receive) but also built some of the compost bins for the group. This is a perfect example of the cooperative nature off this undertaking. They not only encourage folks to drop off their vegetable scups from home but welcome and encourage volunteers to help with turning piles, sifting the finished compost and picking up donations from the local Community Supported Agriculture group and Greenmarket. Workshops and assistance are offered for folks who want to compost at home and they teach  a program for children they call Bug Land Builders which teaches kids about the good insect decomposers and pollinators.
Community Compost Sifter
While not a typical example of a community garden, C4B is a great example of a sustainable community garden. A group has taken an underutilized space and turned it into a productive one. Productive not only in the sense of creating a usable product - compost - but also producing community. When I spoke to Louise during my visit, much of our conversation was about the people involved and how she is working hard to create a sustainable community group.
3 of the compost bins
All of the physical sustainable things C4B is doing; making compost, harvesting rainwater, using a cargo bicycle to transport compostable materials all contribute to the social sustainability of this project. People are engaged by doing and learning and future ecologists are being trained.
Bins Buckets Shed Sifter Tumblers
New York City has no landfill or incinerator within it's boundaries. All waste is shipped out of the city. Much has been written about how to solve the solid waste problems that face our cities. Backyard or small scale composting is not considered to be one of the answers. I am sure those folks have not seen Compost for Brooklyn. They might think differently if they did. Anyone who wants to do this kind of project I would recommend modeling your project after C4B. Oh and no smell or signs of vermin!

1 comment:

  1. in a place like this, your garden must be adequate in water. It was good to have rainwater tank system. underground rainwater tanks