Metroland Article on Composting

Food-Scrap Revolution

As communities examine the economic and environmental impact of waste-collection systems, the composting movement is gaining ground

by Darryl McGrath on November 10, 2011

“I have to warn you, it’s going to be smelly.”

Scott Kellogg offers this caveat as he prepares to set out on his weekly pickup of food scraps from a couple dozen homes in downtown Albany, where residents subscribe to the compost collection service that Kellogg runs with his wife, Stacy Pettigrew.

The odor that wafts through Kellogg’s 1998 vegetable-oil-powered Volkswagen Jetta as he traverses the Mansion Neighborhood on this mild afternoon is earthy, slightly pungent and  overripe, but not noxious. It’s more a garden smell than a garbage smell, familiar and not unpleasant to anyone who has ever turned over a compost pile in their back yard and thrown a full shovelsful of the stuff on the tomato plants.

At each stop, Kellogg lifts a packed bag of food scraps from the bright-green plastic bucket on the front stoop, drops the bag into a larger collecting bucket in his car and leaves the customer a fresh clear liner bag that crinkles like a grocery store plastic produce bag but is actually made from biodegradable corn starch. The collection bags, along with the banana peels, egg shells, and coffee filters and grounds they contain, can be composted.

And at the end of the day, the buckets of food scraps will be added to the circular chicken-wire enclosures of compost at the Grand Street site of the nearly-completed Radix Ecological Sustainability Center. When fully established, the center’s half-acre complex—which features a year-round, 1,200-square-foot greenhouse—will produce edible plants, fish, honey and possibly small animals such as rabbits—all fueled by solar power and other environmentally passive methods. The compost produced through the neighborhood collection service plays a major role in supporting this tiny urban farm project.

Kellogg and Pettigrew co-founded the Radix Center—the name Radix comes from the Latin word for root—almost two years ago, drawing on their years of experience in the sustainability movement and a similar project they ran in Texas. They envision the center as an educational project and are working to build partnerships with area schools. The Radix philosophy of reuse, recycle and reclaim is encapsulated in the Community Compost Initiative, through which food scraps that most people consider garbage are utilized for food production instead of dumped into the Rapp Road Landfill.

The Radix Center’s environmentally-attuned customers pay Radix $15 a month for weekly pickup of their food scraps from a carbon-filtered, sealed bucket, the contents of which, by the end of a week, have turned into a damp, slightly compacted mass of stale bread, leftover pasta and rice, banana peels, fruit rinds, paper towels, tea bags and coffee grounds.

Full Article at – http://metroland.net/2011/11/10/food-scrap-revolution/

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