Composting in Cincinnati
When it comes to composting, community-scale initiatives play an essential role in benefitting our communities and soils. As composting infrastructure and support grows, a multi-scaled approach helps ensure we are building a resilient, equitable system. Cincinnati is positioned to do just that.
In 2021, the City of Cincinnati received a USDA Community Composting grant, with the goal of building infrastructure for composting food scraps at community sites across Cincinnati. The Common Orchard Project has been a key partner in implementing this project. Check out our work below and learn how to get involved!
Community Composting Sites
Our composting work with garden and community sites around Cincinnati has been inspired by the Johnson-Su Bioreactors built at the Walnut Hills Community Gardens.
We have iterated on this original bioreactor design to implement no-turn, aerated composting systems that work with the needs and limitations of gardens. Through this model, we support gardens with supplies, materials (including food scraps), and implementation, to compost up to a ton of material all at once. This system requires no ongoing maintenance and yields up to a yard of quality compost in a year's time - all for the garden to use.
This system can also be set up as a food scrap drop-off program. Offered to the community and gradually filled over time, it's a great way to connect people to the garden and redirect food waste into food resource all at once.
Interested in building a bioreactor or setting up a compost drop-off at your garden or community site? We'd love to talk! Fill out our interest form to get started!
Composting at Camp Washington Perennial Farm
The composting program at Camp Washington Perennial Farm is just one partner in a broader city initiative to develop community composting sites around Cincinnati.
At full capacity, the compost program at Camp Washington Perennial Farm can take in up to 6,000 pounds of food scraps per week, producing 600 yards per year of highly valuable compost to be used on our site and other urban farm initiatives in the city.
The CO2 emissions reduced through this program are equivalent to removing 626 gasoline-powered vehicles from the road for a whole year.
Residential Compost Drop-off
Sign up for our free, residential compost program, and help create healthy soil while diverting your organics from the landfill. Our drop-off bin is accessible 24/7, and is located at the gate entrance of Camp Washington Perennial Farm.
To begin composting and receive the bin code, complete our sign up form.
We accept the following items for compost:
grains (bread, rice, oats, etc.)
coffee grounds and coffee filters
house plant clippings and old houseplant soil
cut flowers (with no paint, ribbon, or other decoration)
As we are a small-scale composting operation, these items are the only ones we are currently able to process. If you are unsure if something falls under the categories on this list, please reach out to us and ask! When in doubt, leave it out.
Did you know that there is a whole living community in the soil? Bacteria and fungi break down organic matter in the soil, helping release nutrients for plants to use. Food scraps are a very nutrient-dense resource. By composting our food scraps, we are working with the microorganisms to return these nutrients to the soil. This system creates a circular nutrient economy, where the food scraps we didn’t eat get turned into the food we grow!
In Hamilton County, 30% of what goes to the landfill could be composted. Which means we are throwing away an energy-rich resource, all when we don’t have to!
Meanwhile, in the landfill, compostable material breaks down anaerobically, a process that releases methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas even more harmful to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide. By sending our food scraps to the landfill, we’re contributing to the effects of climate change.
Choosing to compost not only returns nutrients to the soil, but also helps plants grow stronger, prevents soil erosion, and sequesters carbon. All while reducing what gets sent to the landfill. It’s just the right thing to do!
We work with a number of different people and organizations to get this program up and running. The City of Cincinnati received a USDA grant to set up community composting initiatives around town, including supporting the beginning stages of our program. We’ve also partnered with Queen City Commons to receive and compost the food scraps they collect.
We’d love to expand on our partnerships! If you have larger volumes of food scraps and a way to get it to us, we’re also looking for other partners as we grow. Reach out to Marie at email@example.com, to learn more about how we could compost your food scraps.
Specifically through our drop-off program, we do not currently have capacity to accept large volumes of food scraps, such as those from businesses, restaurants, food pantries, etc. If you are interested in dropping off large volumes, contact us directly. If you are interested in having your food scraps picked up to be composted with us, check out our partner Queen City Commons. You can also find other available services in Cincinnati.