Composting for the river

Person puts foodscraps into compost bin

Composting not only reroutes food waste into healthier soil, it also helps yards absorb more rainwater, keeping harmful runoff out of our local waterways. (Photo by MPCA)

What is composting?

As any good gardener or farmer knows, there's dirt, and then there's soil. Rich, dark soil is made up of a mixture of decaying plant and animal cells, beneficial microbes and other components that together create a welcoming environment for a healthy network of plants, invertebrates and fungi.

Good soil doesn't only improve crop and vegetable yields. Soil with more organic matter, or compost, actually holds on to significantly more water, which means that a heavy rain won't cause as much runoff, and a dry spell won't leave plants as parched. This infographic from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance explains it all: “When added to soil, compost can filter out urban stormwater pollutants by an astounding 60-95%.”

What you can do

Some counties offer food scrap recycling programs, which are a great option if you don't want to make your own compost, but still want to offer your food waste to a good cause. Counties often offer free finished compost at yard waste sites as well.

How can you make your own compost? For a full tour of the basics of making and using compost in your yard, including what to compost, check out these guides from Do It Green! and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

To start composting in your yard, you can build your own bin or buy one ready-made.

DIY compost bins

 These guides from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency can help you get started with building your own compost bin:

Build your own compost bin
Wood pallet compost bin

Ready-made compost bins

Here are a few sources for ready-made bins:

Recycling Association of America
Mills Fleet Farm
Home Depot

More resources

Do It Green!'s introduction to worm composting
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance's composting webpages
Minnesota Composting Council's website

 

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