Community gardens, urban farms and schools across the city are the pioneers of Philadelphia’s pilot Community Composting Network who will help neighborhoods turn organic waste into nutrient-rich plant food. Funded by grants from Comcast and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the program is headed up by the city’s Office of Sustainability and Department of Parks and Recreation. They provide the 12x4x4-foot, three-compartment compost bin, training and ongoing support for each site as it gets set up.

The idea is this: neighbors bring their food and yard scraps to a nearby site and share the responsibility of turning the piles and maintaining the bin. The resulting fertilizer is available to all participants for use in garden beds, window boxes, potted plants at home, or even trees lining streets nearby.

The city’s review committee last week announced the pilot sites from 22 applications submitted over the summer. These first composters, like Greensgrow Farm, Brewerytown Garden, and Urban Tree Connection, have well-established neighborhood networks.

“This is a community affair,” says the city’s director of urban agriculture Ash Richards, who’s in charge of rolling out the program. “We want each site to work with the folks around them.”  Once these first sites are up and running, they’ll continue to expand the network to more locations around Philly to help accomplish the city’s zero waste goal.

In 2016, Mayor Kenney signed the Zero Waste and Litter Executive Order, committing Philly to becoming 90 percent zero waste (10 percent of waste will go to a waste to energy facility) and litter-free by 2035. That means fully eliminating the use of incinerators and landfills.

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