The city may have given up on curbside compost pickup but a non-profit group is busy getting a few apartment blocks and condos composting in a pilot project it hopes will grow throughout the city.
The Green Action Centre's ON SITE Multi-Family Composting Project is offering all the tools and support to get apartment and condo dwellers set up to compost where they live, said Bo van der Midden. The Winnipeg Foundation is funding the pilot project and, so far, they've installed a compost bin at an eight-unit condo in St. Boniface, said van der Midden with the Green Action Centre's compost team.
"They were actually ready to start on their own," she said. "They didn't want to be throwing out their organic food waste." They wanted it composted and used to enrich the garden and landscaping the residents have developed and dote on. "It's pretty great to see the work they've done — not just for the condo but for their neighbourhood," said van der Midden.
The Green Action Centre requires that at least two interested residents at each building are willing to volunteer as co-ordinators for the composting project. Once an application form is filled out and the majority of residents and the landlord or condo board is on side, they can get started.
"We give them all the tools and resources to make that successful and to empower people to compost on their own," said van der Midden. The communal composter is made by Urban Eatin' Landscapes and built using salvaged wood, she said. The Green Action Centre is now working with twin condos in the West End to prepare them for composting in early spring, she said.
"We still have space for two more," said van der Midden."This is a very small pilot project just to gauge public interest," she said. The pilot project will see if there's actual follow-through once a system is set up, she said. In the West End, two residents of the twin condo buildings are gung-ho to get composting.
"As an individual I think it's mostly about being more conscious of how I'm consuming things and what kind of waste I'm producing," said Nicolas Geddert, a carpenter who went back school and is taking cultural studies. The 30-year-old, who uses his bike as his main form of transportation year round, said he's not disappointed that the city has shelved curbside organic waste collection.
"It's a local thing," said Geddert. "You want your compost, ideally, to go somewhere near you — you want to put that into a garden or a flower bed." The Green Action Centre's pilot project is giving residents of apartments and condos a chance to get involved in something that's local and sustainable. "The waste is not getting trucked out," he said. With curbside pickup, "you've got to maintain big trucks and use gas and there's all those pollutants," said Geddert. Keeping organic waste close to home and composting makes more sense, said the budding gardener.
His grandfather had "a green thumb" and a compost pile at one end of his garden where he tossed organic food waste. "You didn't need any special kind of container." Nowadays, it has a certain cache, said Geddert. "Compost is a thing you can put on your eco-resume," he joked.
His neighbour, Christian Bohm, said he's looking forward to composting close to home and not having to cycle across Portage Avenue to get rid of vegetable peels and other organic food waste. "When I had large amounts, I'd put them in bags and take them to friends in Wolseley and dump it on their compost pile," he said.
Bohm, 49, another year-round cyclist, said he's trying to leave a small carbon footprint. He's stepped up with Geddert to set up the composting project at the twin condos.
"I think it would only make sense to turn it into a joint effort -- to have that compost in a central area and we all have our individual bins and collect in our suites," said Bohm, a geologist who works for the province. "People like Nick and I would do with the compost whatever has to be done," he said. "It's just one of these steps in the right direction that was totally missing before."
Bohm said there's underused common space between the two buildings that could be turned into a vegetable and flower garden enriched with resident compost. He doesn't expect everyone to get on board with the project. "We just need a small critical mass and then the rest of the building not to be opposed to it." It could even create a stronger sense of community, said Bohm.
"Right now, other than picking up dog s--t around the building, there isn't much that creates a common discussion," he said. Doing something together that's good for the environment might be good for everyone, said Bohm.
"That's the type of stuff that could certainly bring people together."