Making More Bluegrass: Composting in Bigger Ways

In Kentucky's Bluegrass region, the soil is famously rich, dark, and productive. We can invest in keeping and building it, if we will. We can aspire, as Edmonton, Alberta does, to keep 90 percent of residential waste away from the landfill. Edmonton presently diverts around 60 percent of waste and will divert 90 percent by 2013. In Lexington, we have begun to go beyond composting in our individual homes -- though let's pause for applause for those home composters and home systems. On to thunderous applause, please, for Seedleaf, Inc., which goes beyond homes to collect and compost pre-consumer organic material from an increasing number of restaurants, coffee shops, and caterers. Seedleaf then returns the finished compost to the Bluegrass soil by applying it to one of the Seedleaf-supported community and school gardens in our city. Community activist Yvette Hurt described Seedleaf's composting project in "Sowing self-sustaining communities," an article for Business Lexington.

Third Street Stuff & Coffee poured out early support and enthusiasm for Seedleaf's recycling program, and continues as a key partner. Coffee companies in general have embraced sustainability well before other U.S. businesses -- perhaps because all that caffeine leads to quick, sharp, analytical thinking!

In a recent New York Times article, A Coffee Conundrum, Murray Carpenter reports that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters started composting used coffee grounds in 1983. Sadly, the focus of the story is on the company's recent blockbuster sales of single use disposable coffee pods -- an apparent corporate value turnaround, given that the pods produce "straight to landfill" waste.

We see no such turnaround in corporate values at Breaking New Grounds, in Louisville, which Heine Brothers Coffee owners Gary Heine and Mike Mays launched as a "neighborhood-based community food system that turns 'waste into wealth.'" Breaking New Ground hosts a Soil Summit on August 14, featuring Growing Power founder and composting impresario Will Allen, who will appear by video conference.

Backyard compost, ready to use

Backyard compost, ready to use

When garbage gets lucky, it's headed toward compost. In other words, garbage, in a composting world, is simply pre-dirt.

Dirt is having its moment in Lexington. In fact, Dirt! The Movie, shown recently to a full house at the Central Library auditorium, will be shown two more times, thanks to the enthusiastic reception the first audience gave it.

From the most recent Good Foods Owners Newsletter:

Dirt!will be shown in the Rochdale Room at Good Foods on Saturday, August 21 and Saturday, September 18 from 9:30 -11:30 am. Or, you can order the DVD directly from

Don't confuse Dirt! The Movie with The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which is the next film in the Good  Foods series. Farmer John airs at the Central Library on Tuesday, August 24, at 6:45 PM.  I have seen this film, and it is worth watching for many reasons, including the way it portrays a farmer's challenges and courageous responses. The Good Foods Owner Newsletter offers this accurate description:

This is an epic tale of Farmer John, a maverick Midwestern farmer who - in spite of the condemnation from his community - bravely transforms his farm amidst a failing economy, vicious rumors, and arson. In doing so, he creates a bastion of free expression and a revolutionary form of agriculture in rural America.

Good Foods Chapter 2 will stay open late so you can grab supper or a snack before the movie!

I look forward to learning more about compost and soil-building in cities. I look forward to what Seedleaf and others will lead us to know and do so we can add to the commonwealth of extraordinary soil we enjoy in the Bluegrass.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 58.