BOISE, Idaho — Last week on ‘You Can Grow It’, Garden Master Jim Duthie showed us how Boise's Curb It recycling program works, turning residential yard waste into beneficial compost that is given back free to city residents.
In the second part of this series, Jim explains more about the composting program, how it has received national certification, and how you can actually host a compost party in your own neighborhood.
“Recycling residential green waste has a lot of benefits," Jim said. "One of them is, you get compost, that you can use back in your own yard and garden.”
That is why in 2017, the City of Boise instituted its curb-it program for solid waste management. Part of that program recycles residential yard waste into usable compost that is made available to city residents free of charge.
[super: lisa knapp, boise compost program]
“Well, I can tell you we bring in about 35,000 tons of organic material that’s diverted from the landfill every year," Lisa Knapp, with the Boise compost program said. "That can vary a little bit year to year; it depends a lot on the rainfall and how many leaves our trees make every year. But we give everything that we make back to either to use in our parks or give back to residents through these programs of our residential pick-up sites or community compost give-back. What we don’t give back for free, we have some leftover, we wholesale that, and it offsets some of the cost of the programs.”
Grass clippings, wood trimmings, and fall leaves can all go into the recycling bins, but no commercial waste is accepted, in order to keep the compost clean.
“Commercial landscape companies have access to different types of pesticides and herbicides that most of us can’t buy for our houses, so we know that the material that’s coming in – we call it a feedstock in composting – is a very, very clean material,” said Knapp.
In fact, Boise's compost program has received the seal of testing assurance from the U.S. Compost Council, certifying the quality of the composted material.
“So what that does, it requires that our compost is tested at a very high level through an independent laboratory, every other month. And we actually put that information on our website now, and so before you come and pick up compost you can actually get an idea of exactly what’s in the compost that you’ll be putting in your yard. It’s got all the nutrient content. It also is testing for pathogens as well as heavy metals”.
“The City of Boise has a couple of pick-up points where you can come and get your compost. One of them is here at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Another is on Joplin Road,” Jim said.
Residents can collect up to two cubic yards of free compost per year.
In addition to that, Boise residents can arrange to have compost delivered free to a location near them, that can then be shared with neighbors. In other words, you can become a compost host.
“In addition to these give-back sites where you come and self-pick up, if you are an organization or a neighborhood or a group of at least five houses in Boise, we’ll deliver for free 20 to 25 cubic yards of compost as long as there is an accessible site for us to get it there," said Knapp. "That is a program that’s open to anyone in Boise who is a participant in the compost program and it’s at no cost.”
Think of it as a way to have a fun get-together with your neighbors, while sharing something beneficial, and helping to improve your own gardens, as well as the overall environment.
The finished product, often referred to as black gold, is a biologically active product. There are millions of microorganisms ready to go back into gardens to help soils and plants become healthier.
Other nearby cities offer different kinds of yard waste collection programs, but Boise is the only city to give back recycled compost to its residents for free.
“The big benefit of this really is to our natural environment, to keeping those greenhouse gases, those landfill gases down, as well as keeping those nutrients in our community and back in our soils and being able to build healthy soils that then help us to have healthy plants that will produce more oxygen and take more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” Knapp said.
It is a win-win not only for Boise residents, but for all of Idaho.
For more information about Boise's curb-it program, and where to can pick up free compost, or become a neighborhood compost host, check the curb-it website.
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