Compost is a builder. A result of the slow breakdown of organic materials, it’s an unexpectedly fast builder. Compost builds relationships between micro-organisms and the soil, plants and the soil, and rightly so, soil with some of that above ground stuff as well. Soil is the foundation of these relations, yet compost is able to extend far past just building singular relationships; it connects these relationships, binds them together, and creates a foundation for communities of all kinds.
So there are these micro-organism thangs operating in the soil that you always hear are so important to a high quality soil. It’s the smallest community that compost builds, yet the most populace. Compost’s nutrient-dense nature is a perfect environment for the good type of microbes that our soil yearns for.
Then you’ve got the soil-plant community that compost builds and strengthens due to the multitude of benefits compost brings to the soil’s nutrient pool, ability to hold nutrients and water, and resistance to diseases. Plant communities love compost, whether it’s a natural ‘compost pile’ like that of a forest floor or the kind we put on from our kitchen scrap compost pile.
The community that could be reaping the largest, or most visible, benefits from compost is close by to you. Yours, right?
Building a community doesn’t have to be from ground zero, the community is already there, it’s about renewing and reinvigorating what is already present. A bit like what compost does for the soil, eh?
Whether it’s cycling the city to gather compost ingredients for a student run organic farm, dropping off green (food scraps) or brown (leaves from your lawn) materials at a local urban farm, or a citywide compost program, all these activities involve interaction with many individuals, the land, and even those unseen microorganisms we talk about. These interactions often result in important conversations about food, waste, and consumption; topics that communities need to be discussing.
Starting a mini-trash can in your kitchen is a conversation starter, especially if it’s a bit flashy. Paint that thing hot pink if you’d like, obviously though, match it with the décor of your kitchen.
A compost pile fashioned from recycled lumber or an old pallet brings the idea of composting into the mind’s of many a passerby. The lack of a smell really gets people asking questions. Bring them some organic vegetables grown with your compost and it’s a challenge to not begin composting then and there.
Don’t have one at your local community garden? Start throwin’ refuse and leaves in a pile, turn if you’d like, and profit. Meet a farmer at the market, maybe at the local co-op, and ask them if they need any compost ingredients. In the very least, they’ll tell you a bit about starting your own. Don’t hesitate to ask a neighbor or friend if they’d like to partner up. Why not take an old car or scooter and build up a community compost program? Compost Cab is thriving in Washington. Be daring, get some worms.
Composting is easy and fruitful. Soil, microbes, and produce beneficiaries love it. Throw some kitchen scraps and yard scrapings in a pile and start to build community.