Site tour shows off new program building bicycle-carried buckets for coffee composting and planned three-bin garden composting system
NEW YORK – Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer joined the Citizens’ Committee for New York City and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) to announce 36 Community-Scale Composting Grant awards for community garden programs across the city in 2017. In a site tour following the announcement, members of Lydia’s Magic Garden / El Jardín Magico de Lydia and East Harlem business owners demonstrated the potential of the community-based composting programs funded by the grants.
“Composting is an important part of reducing waste and making our city more sustainable, and these grants have helped community gardeners lead the way,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Neighborhood-level composting brings communities together around sustainable practices, and spur innovations that can be replicated across the city.”
“Now in its seventh year, our community-scale composting grants are more successful than ever, increasing the number of volunteer-run compost drop-off sites in some of the most underserved neighborhoods of the city,” said Citizens Committee for New York City CEO Peter H. Kostmayer. “As always, we are grateful to Borough President Brewer and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board for their relentless dedication to the cause of zero waste. The grant program is just one piece of the puzzle. Still it clearly demonstrates that New Yorkers can take control of the nutrient cycle locally and sustain it over time.”
With assistance from the grant program, community gardeners at Lydia’s Magic Garden are building a three-bin composting system and spearheading a coffee composting program in the community, partnering with local cafés to pick up used coffee grounds and transport them to the garden for composting. To transport the coffee grounds, the group is building bucket carriers  that can be attached to bicycle cargo racks. This innovative model can be replicated in other gardens for general compost pick-up. The project also addresses rat concerns in the neighborhood, because composting coffee grounds minimizes noxious odors that would otherwise attract rats. The Community-Scale Composting Grants program, now in its seventh year, began as an effort to challenge New Yorkers from all walks of life to embark or expand on community composting projects in neighborhoods across the city. Community garden groups, student groups, tenant and block associations, and other environmental groups are eligible to apply for micro-grants of up to $750 for investments in community-based composting programs. The all-volunteer, borough president-appointed Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board raises money for the grants. Citizens Committee supports the program by matching those funds and managing the program. All money raised goes entirely toward grants.
For 2017, 36 composting groups received a total of $22,740 in micro-grants ranging from $200 to $750. Since the grant program’s inception in 2011, 216 grassroots groups (including Title I school groups) have received more than $137,000 to create or enhance composting bin systems and community composting programs.
A list of this year’s grantees can be downloaded here .