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Compost Tourism

A few weeks ago, during our Saturday turning at River West’s Scooter Foundation Community Garden, we were gratified to receive our first authentic compost tourist, an energetic staffer from Wellspring Farm, who wanted to see how the Kompost Kids did compost in Milwaukee while visiting for the weekend. It was cold and snowy, so we worked quickly and got the job done. In the meantime, we took the opportunity to learn about the many excellent programs happening at Wellspring, talked compost bin design and recipes, and joked about the lonely affair of winter composting.

Our educator talked about Wellspring’s ecotourism mission, and it got us thinking. Why not compost tourism? I know how I would design my first compost vacation, starting with a snowy bike ride with Carter Schmidt, 10-year-old CEO of Carter’s Compost, an entrepreneurial bike collection service in Traverse City, MI, that has gained national recognition. After chilling in northern Michigan, I’d move onto New York City, where BIG! Compost, a nonprofit partnership with the New York City Department of Sanitation, is composting some impressive tonnage of food scraps under the Queensboro Bridge, collecting residential kitchen garbage at Green Markets, and in general kicking some compost behind in America’s largest, densest city. To warm up, I’d head next to Gainesville, FL, where Chris Cano’s Gainseville Compost is not only operating a collection service and decentralized processing outfit on a commercial scale, it’s also pioneering some excellent technology and equipment of interest to likeminded groups around the country.

My trip might go on and on, and so could this post, but let’s end it with a call to action. Next time your are planning a trip and want to do something different, consider compost tourism and let us know what you did and what your learned. Who knows? Maybe Milwaukee will become the next destination on the compost map.

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