The Kompost Kids recently joined Growing Power staff in representing best practices in urban composting and soil improvement projects in Milwaukee and Chicago and offered advice to a diverse audience of conference attendees from all over the country. Growing Power’s third National-International Urban Agriculture & Small Farm Conference covered a vast amount of territory, ranging from lectures on local power production (literally empowering communities), food justice issues, and of course, the mechanics of growing food economies (and feeding soil media) in urban settings.
Download a copy of our presentation here or browse the synopsis below. As usual, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about our mission, operations, or volunteer opportunities.
“Composting at Scale in an Urban Environment: The Community Approach”
Our presentation grew out of the experience and model of the Kompost Kids organization and consisted of three parts: building and maintaining a community compost network; negotiating regulatory obstacles in community composting; and scaling up with business and municipal partnerships. Effective community composting relies on a unique blend of infrastructure and human resources. The Kompost Kids’ model deploys a decentralized network of couriers, volunteers, and site workers who actively divert organic waste from the landfill-bound stream and partner with community garden properties to convert it into a usable soil amendment. An active community compost network leverages a strong garden presence and outreach with a mission that includes launching new gardens, educating garden tenants, and advocating for local food production – alongside local disposal – as a crucial element in urban development and sustainability. Part one focused on both strengths and challenges of this decentralized approach.
Part two focused on relevant ordinances, compliance with municipal regulations pertaining to compost and organics disposal, and confronts the opportunity to work with municipal authorities to update ordinances in order to meet the market demand (and policy need) for an organics diversion scheme. Regulatory and siting challenges will be discussed as they relate to community composting at scale in an urban environment.
Part three considered the challenge of moving beyond residential and garden-based composting to include postconsumer waste diversion, hauling logistics, and conversion into a commercial product. Natural growth in community composting and market demand for organics diversion may outstrip the labor and site capacity of a garden-based network. Commercial models may present a solution, but the market is immature, the logistics untested. Part three posited a city-wide commercial avenue by which willing businesses introduce a third hauling option into their waste hauling profile and contribute to soil production and sustainability through direct contributions.