Compost Crimes

Last night a fellow community garden member and I hauled some dry leaves and straw that I had stashed over to our new community compost bins. The first of the three wood and wire bins is already full. And not full in a good way. It doesn’t matter that I posted carefully made signs detailing what goes in and what doesn’t. There are still long strings of invasive morning glory throughout. It doesn’t matter that I instruct people in group emails to chop up the big hunky materials – I found a giant head of cauliflower with all the leaves attached in one of the plastic communal bins. A waste of perfectly good food. I also find food scraps, sometimes still in plastic bags either thrown into the bin or left to become fly infested at the base of the bin.

The old wooden composter was designated as the brown material storage, but when we arrived, we found it too had been dumped half full of green materials. Probably because we had put giant rocks on top of the other bins to act as a deterrent for the dump and runners. But last night we found an entire plant, the soil still in the form of the hanging pot with a plastic base still attached, inside the first bin. My garden colleague has volunteered to take out all the green material dumped in the first bin and layer it with browns back into the second bin. We’ll put a sign on it that says: curing. And maybe a big rock. We doubt that it will help. We suspect it is non-garden members who are the culprits.

I had left a brown paper yard waste bag outside the bins for the morning glory (with a sample attached to the bin) and other pernicious weeds. Instead it was used as a garbage bag. And fly haven. Endless garbage. During our monthly work parties, there is always a large contingent of us who pick up garbage. There are no garbage cans along the garden walkway, in fact you have to walk several blocks down to 4th Avenue to find a garbage can. After the work sessions, the city picks up bags of garbage and any yard waste that we can’t manage in our system.

What is most maddening is the bags of dog poo that are left not just near the new three-binner, but on top of the various plastic composters in the stretch of two blocks that makes up our very large community garden. I would like to install a doggy doo composter – just a simple trench and enzyme system. But you can imagine the infractions that would occur with that one.

It seems to me the garbage and compost issue needs to be dealt with city wide, for community gardens, in parks, along railway tracks. I notice in another community garden that gardeners have put latches with locks onto their plastic bins. Maybe it’s time we locked out these compost criminals or installed a security camera! And the fine? Cleaning up other people’s garbage.


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