Composting in the City

Composting Bin

I first learned about composting in 2009 while living in an intentional community in the upper level of a rehabbed church in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Seven of us shared one refrigerator, one common living area, and one small trash can, and one even smaller trash can. The second trash can was actually more like a canister—less than a foot high, roughly eight inches in circumference and was used for compost scraps.

There are multiple forms of composting, but the most common form for city dwellers is Backyard composting. You combine browns (fallen leaves or straw), greens (grass clippings and food scraps), and even hair with some water in a designated area. These ingredients, when combined and mixed periodically, yield compost which has lots of benefits.

But I’ll be honest, it seemed like a really terrible idea when I moved into the shared space because the smell was horrible (rotting produce, egg shells, and coffee grounds). And although we had a community garden the idea of throwing the scraps in a larger compost pile outdoors only brought back memories of Templeton from Charlotte’s Web. You may have guessed that I elected to avoid our community garden after dark, but now as a Baltimore city resident planning a community garden with some friends I have to face my fear.

It turns out there are heaps of resources on rat-proofing your compost pile. After reading several reviews online it seems that Hotbin invented by Tony Callaghan seems to be the best at keeping the scary pests away. Of course there are other tips and tricks for keeping the rats away, but with next door neighbors, I’m going to try the Hotbin and report back on my success/failure with the product.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reducing the amount of waste my partner and I send to landfills that are out of sight and out of mind, and enriching the soil of our community garden.

Have you had success keeping rats out of your compost? Feel free to comment with tips that others might also find useful.


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Bakari Jones

With a passion for bridging entrepreneurship and community activism, I hope to leverage my project management, media/marketing, fundraising, and volunteer management skills to impact change through Campaign Consultation’s collaborative work environment. As a Project Specialist for Campaign Consultation, Inc., I primarily support planning efforts for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Read more.

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