Locally Sourced

Public Food Composting Pilot Project on Virginia Key

We can't seem to get enough of the vermicomposting wormies here on Short Order... If you've got food waste to share or an urban garden that needs soiil, The only thing that might turn your stomach is that there may be a Bush involved.  And no, we're not talking the lowercase variety.

Beginning July 1, a summer pilot program will make public food composting a reality on Virginia Key at the site where the City of Miami currently offers residents free mulch and compost from yard trash. The address is 3851 Rickenbacker Causeway.

According to Lanette Sobel of Fertile Earth, a non-profit working with the city, South Dade Soil and Water Conservation District, Florida Atlantic University, and others, the test could become Florida's first public food residuals composting program churning out tons of the stuff to delight urban gardeners and small farmers alike in Miami-Dade. 

The plan appears straight forward.  Organics from hotels (echem, Ritz Carlton) and restaurants (Sir Pizza?) that agree to participate are collected and deposited at the facility. The local community will also have the opportunity to bring food waste to the site, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., where it will be inspected to make sure it meets criteria.  If a person is associated with an urban gardening project, they will receive something in exchange for food residuals, most likely either finished compost or maybe gift certificates to an organic farmers market.  An experienced technician then loads the "in-vessel" composting machine.  The goodies brew for about 3-5 days, then cure for another 10, and there you have it -- finished compost ready for bulk wholesale to the local agricultural community, or bagged and sold to consumers through a retail distributor like Whole Foods Market. 

It's all very exciting, but you may not feel so enthused after a quick visit to the website of BW Organics, the composting machine company with whom Fertile Earth is in talks to procure an in-vessel unit for the project. To promote the wide range of uses for its machines, it's conducting research "to process 25% mortality and 75% chicken litter to be tested and used as a cattle feed supplement."  That's not exactly what I wanted to read after watching an advance copy of "Food, Inc." the soon-to-be-released film documenting the horrors of the American food industry, like our systemic dependence on corn and cows being unnaturally fed this rather than grass -- not to mention the idea of dead chickens.  But really... Why focus on making the chickens' pen less fatal when we can recycle the ones that die from disease from overcrowding?  Oh yeah.  Money!   Not sure if I'd want to get in compost with that.

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Jackie Sayet