Composting is Awesome!

Easy lessons in making compost from urban food waste

By Nancy Matsumoto


How to Start Your Own Community Compost Group

Interested in starting your own community compost project? Here are some tips from Andrew Barrett, school garden program coordinator for GreenThumb; Marisa DeDominicis, cofounder and president of the nonprofit compost education organization Earth Matter; and David Hurd, director of the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education for GrowNYC.N.M.

  • Organize a dedicated group of volunteers interested in the project. Managing a community compost project is no small task, so the more help, the better!
  • Reach out to your city’s sanitation department to see if it can offer support or information or link you to similar projects.
  • Identify a location for the project. Check with your local community garden network. If it doesn’t already have an onsite compost project, it may be interested in starting one with you.
  • Before you begin, be sure to reach out to neighbors, local officials, and parties that might be affected. Many people fear that compost attracts rodents and creates odors, and accidents will probably happen. To help avoid future conflicts, you should share stories, provide examples, and discuss the potential challenges and benefits of your project with the community from the start.
  • Master the art of making compost so that you prevent problems. Make sure you have enough brown materials, such as dry leaves, and adequately aerate the compost. (Our e-book Compostology 1-2-3 explains the whole process.)
  • Use signs, open hours, workshops, and community events to let people know what you are doing, to educate others about compost, and to get more people involved.


Photography by Valery Rizzo

Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, February/March 2014