Composting Up: Grant supports community composting

The Urban Tree Connection’s Veggie Kids program in Haddington, which employs children aged five to 16 to grow and deliver fresh produce to impoverished families in their community, is closing the loop with a new composting program. Thanks to a $10,000 grant, the Veggie Kids will now collect organic waste from the same 25 families currently receiving produce deliveries.

The money is part of the 2013 Think Green Grant program from Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful, whose local chapter, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) applied for the grant at the urging of the Urban Tree Connection (UTC). Together, the two nonprofits reached out to Bennett Compost to create the proposal. The program will also help expand Bennett’s on-site composting operation at Neighborhood Farms and recruit block captains (in a 10-square-block area) to engage neighbors in composting.

The initial goal of the proposal was to educate Haddington residents about the value of composting, and to develop a community compost program. “This is an area where we haven’t previously seen interest in composting services,” says Bennett Compost owner Tim Bennett.

“The idea is to keep the project going beyond the first year,” says KPB director Michelle Feldman. KPB hopes to spend the first year learning best practices and teaching both hard and soft skills to its employed youth to help them replicate the program in other neighborhoods.

“There will be some additional part-time jobs created in these communities,” says Bennett, “but the long-term plan is to transition them to hopefully micro-entrepreneurs, so we’re building wealth in areas that are traditionally underserved.”

Feldman has high hopes for the program. “We think it’s going to make a really big impact. We think that educating folks about composting is part of making really vibrant communities.” 
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Story by Molly O’Neill