Earth Watch: Community Composting Project

- "My container has  some olives, peppers, coffee grinds," said Linda Holland President of the Gillespie Park Neighborhood Association.

The Gillespie Park neighborhood in Sarasota has a great thumb.

"People are really shocked at what they're seeing. You could see all the food scraps just 3 months ago," said Tracie Trosler President of Sunshine Community Compost.

Since February the park is home to a successful compost pilot project. The City of Sarasota provided the bins and the space at the park.

 "We want to do projects that help reduce our solid waste production as a city and encourage recycling and compost. They're seeing firsthand how composting works, getting more comfortable with it," said Stevie Freeman-Montes Sustainability Manager City of Sarasota.

With help from nonprofit Sunshine Community Compost.
 
"For the first couple of months, we stayed one night a week at the community compost site and helped people.  Once people get in the habit they have a really hard time not doing it," said Trosler.
 
"Now people are very comfortable, they know the process. She's written out the instructions, so even if you forget the next step you know what we're supposed to" explained Holland.

Now about 25 participants are compost professionals.

 "You're doing good and you're having fun.  You're meeting your neighbors and you're chatting. People use this as a social time and they're helping the environment," said Holland.
 
Food scraps are weighed before they're put in the bin. They've kept over 1300 pounds of food out of the landfill and counting.

"What's really fun is to show the residents what stage the compost is in. That its clean and beautiful and even smells good. There's not creatures showing up," said Trosler.
 
 "I hope that a lot more people see food waste as an asset versus just something we should throw away," said Freeman-Montes.

"It's been a fabulous project and a great process. A learning one for everybody. Now can come back and get the final product, which is this rich soil to put in their gardens or around their fruit trees," said Holland.
 
More information: http://www.sarasotagov.org/sgc/community.cfm

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