22 June 2011

Little Ag in the Big City

Last night, we picked up our weekly allotment from the Grand Street CSA. We paid for the crop year in advance, and each week we get a share of what Woodbridge Farm produces. Local, sustainably grown, seasonal produce. Right now, there are lots of greens, plus rhubarb, strawberries, and some herbs. Later in the season there will be squashes and beans; in the fall, potatoes and pumpkins and apples.

After we weighed our greens and garlic scapes, we sat down to stay for a concert by the string quartet Ethel. The Offspring got to hear a bunch of fairly recent music, some composed by members of the quartet, and to experience a performance of John Cage's 4'33".

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This morning, I dropped off two bags of compost at the bins maintained by the Lower East Side Ecology Center at the Union Square Farmer's Market.

Some nice stranger clued me in a couple of years ago about keeping compost in the freezer so it doesn't get stinky -- a big improvement over keeping compost on the counter if you don't have a place to dump the stuff every day.

Why compost? It keeps a lot of garbage out of the dump, where it might take a few centuries to decompose. No Impact Man did a year-long zero waste project a few years ago, and others are attempting to follow his example, but even if you don't want to go that far, reducing the amount of stuff you send to the dump is a good thing.

How does composting work? You collect carrot leaves, corn husks, egg shells, apple cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, grain products, food scraps -- pretty much any vegetable matter. If you have your own yard, you dump it in a bin and let it turn into dirt. (More on what you can and can't compost: here.)

Depending on your composting philosophy, you might just move the pile every year or so, maybe toss a little dirt over it when you move to a new spot, or you might get a fancy bin and add ingredients in careful proportions and turn the mixture every day.

If you're adventurous enough, you can get a worm bin and compost on an apartment windowsill. I am not that adventurous.

There are other places in the city to take compost if you're not anywhere near Union Square. When we lived in Washington Heights, there was a neighborhood group that accepted compost on the stairs at Pinehurst Avenue and 181st Street. Poke around the community gardens and public parks in your neighborhood and ask around.

If you know of composting locations in the five boroughs and beyond, please leave them in the comments.