Although the farm closes a few months each year, we continue to collect food scraps and process them through our composting systems.
You can help lower landfill waste and our need to purchase soil by donating your kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy), leaves, and other biodegradables to our compost bins. It's easy! Simply drop them off at the farm site. In a few weeks, it will be soil just bursting with nutrition to feed our crops! We also take leaves, junk mail (without plastic windows or staples and ripped into smaller pieces), and non-glossy newspaper.
Our compost deposit bin is located along the fence facing the park. Simply deposit your food scraps in the bin! We take all kinds of food scraps except animal products, which would attract pests and break down too slowly (eggshells, however, are okay). Include some carbon-based materials (paper, sawdust, cardboard, leaves, etc.) if possible. See below for details on acceptable materials. Email us or come visit during our open hours if you have questions!
To make this program work well and keep the compost pest and odor free, we need your help. Please do NOT leave bags or bins of food scraps outside the Farm gate when we are closed! This will smell and attract rodents and we will have to cancel this program.
The following products require a hotter compost system to break down. Please refrain from dropping these items in our compost bin:
We use two composting systems on the farm, a modified windrows system and a vermicomposting (worm) system. As an educational site, we want to demonstrate various approaches to urban agriculture, including different methods for composting.
Modified Windrows System
Common Good City Farm developed assistance from a modified windrows composting system, with Darren Joffe. It involves sizeable piles of soil, food waste, and straw, built up in layers. It requires some space, but it can take in up to 450 lbs of food waste a month, and produces usable compost in about three months!
Critterproof Compost Bin
In the winter of 2014, we constructed a critterproof compost bin. The bin utilizes the same windrows system process, layering soil, food waste, and brown waste to create the conditions necessary for composting. The walled-in and raised design keeps out rats and other animals. Our structure was designed by Eriks Brolis of memeTree, and built with the assistance of DC Parks and Recreation's Josh Singer as part of their Community Compost Cooperative Network.
Adding woodchips, newspaper or other “browns” to the compost is critical to the compost bin working. Your food waste (“greens”) provides nitrogen to the compost, while these “browns” provide carbon. A 1:3 nitrogen to carbon ratio allows the compost to get hot and break down the organic matter in it. Moisture level and temperature are also important factors, and we monitor the windrows' temperature and moisture.
Also known as worm composting, vermicomposting is a practical option for urban dwellers. Two of the best options for household composting are indoor worm bins or outdoor worm boxes. Worms can break down organic matter fast and provide urban gardeners with an opportunity to create their own organic fertilizer. It is easier to collect leachate, the nutrient-rich “water” produced as the worms break down food wastes, from indoor worm bins, but outdoor worm boxes can be much larger and thus produce far greater quantities of worm castings. While the two systems employ different approaches, your end result is the same- “farmer’s black gold”- dark, crumbly, nutrient-rich soil for house plants, potted gardens, raised beds, roof gardens or even compost tea that can be applied to soil or used for hydroponic systems.
In the Spring of 2014, we installed a large outdoor worm box at the farm, drawing from various plans to design the ideal system for our needs. We dug out a 4’ X 12’ trench and lined the bottom of our trench with hardware cloth to prevent moles and other animals from feasting on our worms. We then lined the walls of the hole with cinder blocks and filled the gaps in the cinder blocks with some of the dirt we dug out. By installing our system below ground level, the earth serves as a natural insulator, keeping the box warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. In the winter months, the worms will have ample space to burrow below the freeze line. After filling the box with coconut coir bedding, food waste and worms, we covered the box with a plywood lid to prevent the compost from drying out and to keep out excessive water during rainstorms. With both indoor and outdoor systems, maintaining the appropriate moisture level is crucial to the success of your compost production. Too much water will flood and drown the worms, whereas too little water will cause the worms to dry out.