Get Composting with Lancaster Compost Co-Ops!

And you thought composting was just for people who have large yards and/or expansive gardens. Think again! Composting is for everyone. After all, we all eat and mindlessly throw organic food waste into the trash when we could be composting it. Through doing so, you have the power to lessen our environmental impact by reducing the waste stream that flows into landfills and the greenhouse gases that permeate the air.

Members work together to conduct regular bin maintenance to keep the bin active and healthy for all to use.

Across the country composting initiatives are being founded and spearheaded by municipalities, for-profit companies and volunteer organizations. Lancaster City is home to one such effort, Lancaster Compost Co-Ops, a volunteer-led initiative that enables residents to divert – and thus, reduce – landfill waste and greenhouse gases via composting.

Credit for Lancaster’s program goes to Eve Bratman, an associate professor of environmental studies at Franklin & Marshall College. In 2018, intrigued by a volunteer-led program in Washington, D.C., she began to research the premise of starting a similar program here. She also engaged the expertise of city government and organizations such as Regenerate Lancaster and Urban Edge Farm/Susquehanna Sustainable Enterprises. Grant money helped to make the program a reality. The goal of Lancaster Compost Co-Ops was simple, yet impactful: divert organic food matter from landfills, build neighborhood connections, educate the public and generate research. At the time, F&M research indicated that such an endeavor could save the city more than $5,000 per year and divert more than 16,000 pounds of food waste from landfills.

In 2021, Lancaster Compost Co-Ops made its official debut (appropriately enough, on Earth Day) with 60 members on its roster. At the time, three compost bins were available to members in Musser and Culliton parks and at the Lancaster Recycling Drop-off Center. Since them, membership has grown to 350 members and new bins have been added to Buchanan, Linear and Brandon parks.

How It Works

City residents are welcome to join this free initiative. The only requirement is a prospective member must attend an orientation program, which is typically held on a weeknight evening or a weekend morning. They must also agree to help with periodic maintenance workdays. Upcoming dates/times/signups are posted via the Co-op’s Eventbrite.

Once orientation is completed, a member chooses which location they would like to utilize and a lock code is provided that gives them 24/7 access. Members also receive finished compost (when available) that they can then use to amend the soil in their homes’ garden beds.

Earth Day Events

In order to encourage new members to join the movement, Lancaster Compost Co-Ops will be hosting a special new member orientation program at Culliton Park (285 Conestoga Street) on April 20, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. In addition to the orientation program, visitors can learn more about composting, proper tree mulching, street and river trash clean-up, native trees and plants and rain barrels. Giveaways are also planned. Visitors can also contribute to a mural that will be in progress and participate in open-mic and poetry-reading sessions.

Lancaster Compost Co-Ops Sites

Brandon Park, 525 Fairview Avenue

Culliton Park, 285 Conestoga Street

Buchanan Park, 825 Buchanan Avenue

Lancaster Recycling Drop-off Center, 850 New Holland Avenue

Linear Park, 200 W. Lemon Street

Musser Park, 135 N. Lime Street

Information: Lancastercompost.com

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