In modern society, that fruit will likely rot in a faraway landfill, release greenhouse gases, and become petrified, serving nobody.
Instead, by diverting city food waste from the landfill, we can return the planet’s nutrients back to the soil, so that we can grow more of what we need in the urban area: food.
Since September of 2011, what started as a modest, bicycle-powered initiative to turn waste back into food, Gainesville Compost, is now a cornerstone in a larger conversation about food waste and urban composting.
What began as circumstance — a friend with a bike trailer and a need for more space — became a business model that many are now talking about and even implementing in other places — bicycle powered food scrap collection and a distributed community composting network.
Nearly a year and a half after Gainesville Compost was founded in my shed, what has emerged is a beautiful, organic web of community that I can’t help but relate back to the soil.
Compost, with its millions of microorganisms, is the feedstock for healthy soil life. Compost, too, is the basis of a society rethinking its relationship to food.
In a healthy “soil foodweb,” a term coined by soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham, a community of organisms interact and thrive off of each other in harmonious symbiosis. Their interaction creates life in the soil, which benefits plants that take root.
Similarly in Gainesville, our partner businesses, organizations and residents are interacting and collaboratively creating culture, participating in local food, urban gardens, and in essence, a community foodweb.
Gainesville Compost helps over 12 restaurant and venue partners divert their food waste via bicycle to composting centers located on the properties of 7 local organizations, some of which host gardens.
It is likely that in the near future more will choose to participate in composting and urban agriculture, whether to responsibly divert food waste or to add a vibrant garden to a lifeless courtyard. In doing so, we grow our ever-expansive community food web.
The Gainesville Compost piles sitting neatly around town are but small microbial metaphors in a grander picture of community that is culturing in Gainesville.
The simple action of choosing to divert your food waste represents not just a personal stride toward sustainability, but the greater action of building compost and community alike.
This post is by Chris Cano, founder and “Compost Experience Officer (CEO)” at Gainesville Compost, a pedal powered community compost network that works to build sustainable soil for the urban agriculture movement in Gainesville, Florida.
To learn more, visit GainesvilleCompost.com