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community composting

  • Subject: [cg] community composting
  • From: yarrow@sfo.com
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 15:39:19 -0800

I'm interested in hearing how other community gardens handle composting,
from getting enough people involved, to maintaining it and keeping up with
inputs, to the materials and space needed. The garden is about 3 acres with
150 gardeners, and so far a couple of us have talked about it and agree
it's a good idea.

I'm one of the few gardeners in my community garden who maintains compost
bins, so it may be that there is little interest in composting here, or
people think it's too much work, or don't want to use garden space for
composting. We've recently switched from having a huge (6 cubic yard) bin
to several small wheeled bins for garden waste. We'd still put bermuda
grass and other noxious weeds into the wheeled bins (for the city to
compost), and make sure any moldy and squirrel-bitten tomatoes and other
fruits went into closed bins.

If we composted on site we could use all the slimy lettuce leaves, spent
melon and tomato vines, pruned raspberry canes, etc., but it'd be great to
have a way to chop them up. Has anyone found a good way to do this? A
machete seems too dangerous for a public space, and we don't have
electricity, even if there were a chipper-shredder that could handle garden
waste. I've heard about a bicycle powered chipper-shredder, but I don't
think it's commercially available (anyone have plans for one?).

I think the easiest setup would be a 3-bin system made from wood pallets,
lined with hardware cloth (to keep the rats out), plus a bin to store C
materials (sawdust, corn stalks, etc.). We've found it hard to give away
the garden plots that are in part shade, so this would be a good use for
these areas. The compost could then be used on the community areas we're
developing, and also used for compost demonstrations.

Tanya Kucak
Palo Alto, Calif.

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