Photo: Composting (credit: Black Earth Compost)
By Megan Tan
Support your Local Farmers and Gardeners!
By the title of this opinion piece, you may be expecting me to tell you to support your local farmers by going to farmers markets in the greater Boston area. While that is something I love to suggest to my friends and family, I want to talk about a different way you may be able to support your local farmers. I want to encourage you and your family to start composting.
You may already be familiar with composting, considering many residents in Belmont do so already. However, it is also possible you are not so familiar with it, which is okay because we all must start somewhere. I also would love to share some information about it.
Composting is the process in which organic material and food scraps are separated from the trash that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Once separated, the food scraps decompose and in a matter of a few weeks to a year, it becomes a natural nutrient-dense fertilizer.
One can process compost right in their backyard; however, this method requires some attention which not every Belmont resident is able to provide. Recognizing this obstacle, Belmont has partnered with Black Earth Compost which is a company that is dedicated to processing your food scraps into compost. This partnership has resulted in the installment of a weekly curbside compost pickup for residents that sign up for the service.
To start composting yourself, all you would have to do is pay a small and worthwhile fee for the weekly pickups, a compost bin, and some compostable liners in addition to signing up. Once you have done that, you are ready to start composting. After eating a meal or snack, simply separate the compostable items into your compost bin and put the rest in the trash. Some of the many things that are compostable are fruit and vegetable scraps, animal bones and shells, dairy products, eggshells, paper, and much more.
To make this easier for you, Black Earth has an extensive guide on their website that shares items that are and aren’t compostable which is shown below:
The partnership between Black Earth Compost and Belmont formed almost two years ago, and since then, nearly 1,000 Belmont residents and counting have signed up. Belmont so far is responsible for diverting 472 tons of food waste from landfills into compost production. The compost created by Black Earth is eventually purchased and utilized by farmers and gardeners to help grow sustainable and nutritious fruits and vegetables that we can then buy to feed ourselves and our families. And of course, after eating them, we can put our food scraps back into our compost bins, and the cycle starts all over again.
Compost is a wonderful way for us to reduce our waste and reuse the nutrients we would otherwise throw away. In fact, approximately 40 percent of what goes to a landfill from our trash is compostable. By composting, you would be able to personally divert a large portion of your waste and instead have it be used happily by farmers for their crop cultivation.
Approximately a year ago, I signed my house up for weekly curbside pick-ups from Black Earth Composting. Since then, my family has diverted a total of 418 pounds of food waste to compost which has been used to plant 54 seedlings of various fruit and vegetable plants. Keep in mind my brother and I have been out of the house for most of the year at school, so these numbers are on the lower side.
Another cool thing about composting is that the more people who do it, the less expensive it gets. It is currently $8.99 a month to be subscribed to the weekly pickups but is subject to decrease as more Belmont residents sign up. If f you’re interested in learning more about composting or wanting to sign up with Black Earth Compost, click the link here.
Megan Tan is a 2019 graduate of Belmont high and is a sophomore at Bowdoin College majoring in Environmental Studies and Anthropology.