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Re: Compost Bins

Laura wrote:

If you have an estimate on how big of a 3 bin system we might need, any ideas on designs that have worked for you, or any strategies for organizing a community group to manage a compost bin please let us know as soon as possible. Thanks!

I've found that the most effective method to get folks composting is to provide each plot with its own bin. Here in PA, you can get the standard plastic bins through the Department of Environmental Resources for $10/bin. If everyone has their own bin, they tend to take ownership of it, add their own kitchen scraps and garden weeds and empty it regularly because the benefit is to their very own plot.

We've have a communal bin ever since the garden started and no one really wants to bother with it -- it's too much bother to walk from their own plots, no one wants to turn it, no one wants to add anything to it from home because it might cause problems or encourage others to think that THEY should tend it and since it doesn't even begin to make enough compost for everyone, it just sort of sits there (which eventually does make compost, but not in the quantities anyone wants.

After doing this community garden thing for 15 years now, I've come to see that there are two DIFFERENT types of people who work in a community garden -- the individual plotholders who care about their own plots and do a VERY good job with it and the "communal" folks who don't want the responsibility of an individual plot, but will come on a regular basis to tend to the "general" jobs that don't belong to any one person. I really believe we have to understand that these are two very different types of volunteers and a truly successful community garden had both of these types of people working together to form a whole.

If you can't get cheap bins in your state, I would suggest having a "compost bin making workshop" at the beginning of each season so that everyone has their own bin. I would also make it a requirement that every plot has its own bin, whether the people make them at your workshop or the folks buy their own. It's easy enough to get really good "how to compost" information from the Extension Office and the benefits of reduced waste and better soil are too good not to require.

As always, I welcome other's thoughts and observations on this issue.

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

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St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460

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