Atlanta is home to many beautiful urban farms and community gardens that provide nutrient-rich, sustainably-grown food for our growing communities. But key to their success and long-term sustainability is healthy soil.
Last year, Food Well Alliance surveyed community gardens and urban farms and learned learned through a community garden survey that there is a lack of access to high-quality compost for community gardens and urban farms in Metro Atlanta.
The survey also showed that 40% of community gardens struggle with poor soil health, which results in increased pests and plant disease.
After listening to community gardeners and urban farmers who shared their need for healthy soil, Food Well Alliance is working to increase the supply of community-based compost in Metro Atlanta. By doing this, it will not only improve soil health, but will promote more local, sustainably-grown food in communities.
Community-Based Composting in Atlanta
Community-based composting is engaging community members to process organic material on a scale that is typically smaller than full-scale composting. Community-based composting operations that currently exist in Metro Atlanta are often located at community gardens and urban farms, or may be stand-alone operations on vacant lots within communities.
Many of those operations engage area residents and small-scale businesses to source separate food scraps for composting at the community site, which:
- Accepts feedstock, e.g., food scraps from off-site
- Seeks to keep organic materials in a closed loop from the source of feedstock
- Are typically limited by state regulations to processing a specific amount of material which is measured by the amount of allowed on-site at any one time or by square footage of the composting area.
Community-Based Composting Working Table
This year, Food Well Alliance convened a Community-Based Composting Working Table, bringing together compost experts, entrepreneurs, educators and advocates to team up on how to systematically advance community-based composting for Atlanta’s community gardeners and farmers.
Food Well Alliance held four structured, facilitated convening sessions for the Community-Based Composting Working Table, spanning there months with 15 private, public and not-for-profit stakeholders with more than 15 years of combined composting experience.
The Working Table developed a set of recommendations to scale and support community-based composting in Metro Atlanta. To learn more about the Community-Based Composting Working Table, visit here.
Compost Design Table
Food Well Alliance is currently seeking applications from Atlanta's most impact-driven leaders who are willing to collaborate and work with their intellectually-curious, process-driven peers to solve tough local food system challenges through a Food Well Alliance Design Table.
Design Tables work as a process accelerator that focus on designing innovative pilot projects that can be tested, leading to viable and scalable solutions that can be replicated across Metro Atlanta.
Compost Design Table Fellows are unique in their ability to leverage their organizational assets and intellectual capital to work collaboratively with their team to develop solutions for increasing community-based composting.
The Compost Design Table will last for a maximum of 10 months. Upon completion of the Design Table’s design phase, Fellows will pitch the proposed pilot plan to Food Well Alliance. Research and funding to support the pilot will be provided by Food Well Alliance
If you are interested in applying to become a Compost Design Table Fellow, learn more and submit an application here. Design Table applications are due on June 12, 2017.