New program to help Peterborough residents reduce waste by composting

'Kitchen to Compost' program will deliver and install a composter for $20

GreenUP Environmental Education Coordinator Danica Jarvis shares resources from the new "Kitchen to Compost: Too Good to Waste" program with Environmental Educator Glen Caradus. The new program will see 150 new composters installed at Peterborough residences throughout the summer of 2018 to help reduce kitchen waste from taking up unnecessary space in the local landfill. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
GreenUP Environmental Education Coordinator Danica Jarvis shares resources from the new "Kitchen to Compost: Too Good to Waste" program with Environmental Educator Glen Caradus. The new program will see 150 new composters installed at Peterborough residences throughout the summer of 2018 to help reduce kitchen waste from taking up unnecessary space in the local landfill. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

GreenUP is excited to announce a new partnership with the City of Peterborough. The “Kitchen to Compost: Too Good To Waste” program will commence in May and will include the delivery and installation of a composter, along with a comprehensive workshop on compost care — all for $20 plus tax.

A skilled installation team will also help answer questions and boost the confidence of new compost users. Eligible residents must live within the City of Peterborough and be new to composting.

This new program comes alongside the announcement of a curbside organics program for the City of Peterborough that is set to commence in fall of 2019. In the meantime, residents are encouraged to look for ways to cut down on their own household waste and the Kitchen to Compost program can help. Our target is to install 150 composters throughout the city during the summer of 2018.

Composting has direct benefits for the environment, one of the biggest being that composting conserves landfill space. Ontario’s landfills are filling up and composting not only reduces the volume of waste going to landfill, it also reduces the production of greenhouse gases. Specifically, methane gas emissions are lowered when less food waste is added to landfill.

Environmental Educator Glen Caradus takes a look at the details of GreenUP's new "Kitchen to Compost: Too Good to Waste" program. For only $20 plus tax, GreenUP will deliver and install a composter to eligible Peterborough residents and also offer a comprehensive workshop on compost care. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
Environmental Educator Glen Caradus takes a look at the details of GreenUP’s new “Kitchen to Compost: Too Good to Waste” program. For only $20 plus tax, GreenUP will deliver and install a composter to eligible Peterborough residents and also offer a comprehensive workshop on compost care. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

Composting completes the food cycle by returning plant scrap nutrients to the soil. Most farmers and avid gardeners will make soil amendments before planting for the season, and compost is a viable soil additive that can help enrich your garden beds with nutrients.

Many gardeners refer to compost as “black gold” mostly due to its dark, earthy colour and nutrient rich content that is a valuable addition to your beds. Compost not only adds nutrients to the soil but also saves water. Organic matter retains almost 20 times its weight in water, acting like a soil sponge.

Those of you who are excited to get started composting should give GreenUP a call and book a date to have your composter installed. For residents who are already composting and are feeling discouraged by lack of success, here are some tips about how to get your composter back on track and summer-ready:

Unwanted Guests

To avoid unwanted guests, you will want to be sure to choose the right contents for your composter. To deter wildlife from snacking, do not put any meats, fats, or dairy products in your composter.

Be aware of what we call the nitrogen-to-carbon ratio, otherwise known as the greens and browns balance. A healthy composter should always have more browns (carbon) than greens (nitrogen). Greens are the waste items you bring from your kitchen such as veggie scraps and coffee grounds while the browns are yard waste items such as grass clippings and collected leaves.

“Any food waste placed in your composter should then be covered with browns such as leaves or a small amount of earth,” suggests Peterborough Waste Diversion Manager Virginia Swinson. “Since leaves are not readily available over the winter or even at this time of year, you can add shredded newspaper in their place. Cardboard egg cartons and recyclable paper towel can be used as well.”

If you have a persistent squirrel or raccoon, you can pest-proof your composter. Swinson suggests using a heavy gauge mesh along the bottom opening of the composter.

“Dig a shallow hole, around one inch deep, in which to place your composter. Then backfill with the dirt you dug out and surround the perimeter with rocks.”

 

Smell

You may be interested in composting but are concerned about the potential for offensive odours.

Unwanted smells can be avoided, both in your kitchen catcher and at the compost heap. Keep an eye on the moisture level in both areas to avoid any stinky scraps.

“If a composter gets too wet it may begin to smell,” Swinson explains.

Again, make sure you have more browns (leaves, newspaper, cardboard) in your composter, which will keep the moisture balanced.

If you are keeping your indoor food scraps in a countertop container, avoid placing it in the sun.

“If there is room, keep your kitchen catcher in the fridge, or a cool area under the counter,” Swinson advises. “Line your indoor pail with newspaper or paper towel to absorb liquids. This will help eliminate indoor odours and pests such as fruit flies.”

 

Aeration

Oxygen is also an important factor to consider in the process of compost breakdown.

Add oxygen to your composter by turning it once per week with a shovel or a pitchfork.

Once your compost is established, mix in newly added materials instead of layering. This will accelerate the process, providing you with nutrient-rich soil more quickly.

 

Patience

Even with the proper care, it can take a composter six months to fully decompose your scraps into valuable soil.

Temperature and moisture are limiting factors, even when you are doing everything right. Don’t give up, even during those cold winter months the process will likely slow down: that rich “black gold” will be worth the wait and your plants will thank you for it.

 

To sign up for the Kitchen to Compost program, please contact Danica Jarvis at 705-745-3238 ext 216 or email waste@greenup.on.ca.

If you wish to install your own composter or need a second unit, both the City and County of Peterborough provide composters to local residents for a nominal fee. These are available at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot on Pido Road, at the City and County offices, and at the GreenUP Store in downtown Peterborough at 378 Aylmer Street North.

Need more compost? Regardless of how much compost you produce at home, many gardeners are looking for even more “black gold” to add to their gardens. Small quantities can be purchased at GreenUP Ecology Park on a self-serve basis from May through October.

For further information about Ontario’s Waste Free Strategy, visit ontario.ca.

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GreenUP
For more than 20 years, GreenUP has been central and eastern Ontario's leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship. GreenUP is a non-profit charity and an active community organization that offers dozens of programs and services to those living in the Peterborough & Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. GreenUP's programs focus on facilitating positive action and provide the tools to make small changes in the home or cottage that can create a large and lasting impact on our environment. You can follow GreenUP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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