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.

In 2016, 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

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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.

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Community-Based Composting Working Table

Food Well Alliance began focusing on soil’s importance to our food system in 2014. Working with leading stakeholders like the Georgia Recycling Coalition, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Resilience, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and leading urban growers and social enterprises, Food Well Alliance published its Community-based Composting Working Table White Paper, Closing the Loop: Food Waste in Atlanta in June 2017. 

Closing the Loop: Food Waste in Atlanta recommended that Food Well Alliance and other community partners “explore convening an Atlanta Community-based Composting Council with a concrete change that includes exploring opportunities to advance community-based composting, and its nexus with urban farming and community gardens in Metro Atlanta.” 

Atlanta Community Compost Council

With generous support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food Well Alliance is working closely with the Georgia Recycling Coalition to convene the Atlanta Community-Based Composting Council to increase community-based compost production to benefit Metro Atlanta’s urban farmers and community gardeners. 

Council members work collaboratively on three strategic priorities:


Interested in joining or learning more about the Atlanta Community Compost Council?

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