During two years as president of D.C. Urban Gardeners, I never ceased to be amazed at the number inquiries about composting. And not just from gardeners. No, there are many renters and apartment dwellers out there who want to do something good for the planet by recycling their kitchen scraps. They want to know how to compost.
Yet even here in the nation's capitol we are woefully behind in responding to this pent-up urge to compost. Unlike jurisdictions such as San Francisco, which has implemented curbside recycling of food waste and dirty paper for composting, there is virtually no public composting program or infrastructure in the District of Columbia.
In fact, crews have been busy all over town lately sucking up leaves into big trucks and hauling them off presumably to a landfill. In the past, some of those leaves have been composted on a trial basis and made available at a municipal transfer station that could take you half a day and a satellite imaging system to find.
So people want to know not just the basics of composting--what kind of bin to use, how to avoid nasty smells and rats--but where they can take their food scraps to be composted, or, if they are composting with worms, where they can take the finished castings. (Okay, how about spreading them around in the nearest curbside planting?)
In other words, people need help, and the city is not offering any.
The District is in a hard place--we are a small city/state crowded on all sides by Virginia and Maryland with not a lot of big open lots for composting. But my reading is that so many people are ready to start composting, something will have to give soon.
Note: There are many composting resources linked from this blog, starting with a series of videos detailing how to compost. For a whole list of other places where you can learn more about composting, composting with worms and composting bins, scroll down to the lower right.