The farm-to-table movement is a concept firmly entrenched in the mindset and lifestyle of many Hudson Valley residents these days. But is it the entire story? Or is there another step in the process — table-to-farm, so to speak — where the remains of dinner are taken back to the farm to be composted and turned into soil in order to start the entire cycle again? The new Community Compost Company started by New Paltz resident Eileen Banyra offers a service that makes it easy for people to do just that.
The fledgling business, just getting off the ground since starting in May, offers a collection service that picks up organic waste from residents and businesses and delivers it to a local farm to be composted. The company also maintains a drop-off location (currently on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon at the New Paltz Farmer’s Market on Main Street) where residents can bring their organic waste to be picked up. The pilot farm in the program is the Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, owned by Jay and Polly Armour, but Banyra says she’s in conversation with three or four other farms in the New Paltz area who are also interested in accepting the material.
How it works
The collection service provides residents with a countertop container to collect food scraps in (outfitted with biodegradable, compostable, non-GMO liners) and a five-gallon covered bucket to deposit the bags of collected waste in. Once a week, the bucket is picked up and a clean bucket dropped off along with several more bags for the countertop container. And for those who don’t want anything taking up additional counter space in their kitchen, the particular model they use can also fit sideways in a regular garbage can.
The container has tiny “needle” holes throughout and the bags breathe, so you can leave it for up to two or three days and it won’t smell. “The material in there isn’t rotting, it’s breathing,” says Banyra, “and as long as there’s air in your organics, it stays okay for a while. I tell people, ‘If you’re not used to doing this, don’t put it under the sink or you’re not going to use it. Just put it next to your garbage can and when you scrape your plates, you’ll start using it and realize the idea that you’re not throwing this stuff out, it’s literally going to a farm to be turned into something useful’.”
Community Compost Company accepts all food scraps, including fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, bones, dairy, grains, rice, beans, pasta, bread, eggshells and coffee grounds, along with yard clippings and even food-soiled paper, waxed cardboard, napkins, paper towels (without any chemicals sprayed on them) and uncoated paper plates. Even tea bags — without the staple — are compostable. Not compostable are plastics and plastic wrap, metal, aluminum foil, Styrofoam, liquids, frozen food boxes, pet waste and chemicals.
At this point, the collection service only extends to residents and businesses in the Village of New Paltz. (Plans are in the works to start a collection service in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Community Compost currently maintains a farmer’s market drop-off location.) Banyra is purposely easing into the new business at first, she says, in order to ensure its long-term success. Waste pickup is currently done by truck, but when they get a few more clients, they’re going to do residential collections using bicycles with trailers. Banyra has studied similar models of business in other places where they use bicycles even in winter, and says, “There’s no reason we can’t do that, and it’ll bring more awareness when people see our trailers.”