Last week, the compostadores built a spiffy new compost bin at the Little Kitchen Food Shelf at the Grace Center in NE Minneapolis. The weather was fantastic – blue skies and late summer sunshine smiled upon us as we built a bin in the lot out back. The Grace Center is working over the next two years to convert a tremendous parking lot into a beautiful permeable surface, complete with a garden and play area.
Little Kitchen Food Shelf — along with Waite House in S. Minneapolis — recently received an award by the Emergency Food Shelf Network (EFN) for their highly innovative ideas and hard work. This year, the two food shelves have been working with Gardening Matters, EFN and a taskforce of other dedicated members to work on the Garden Gleaning Project, to increase donations of healthy produce from community gardens. This is an effort to bolster nutritional foods in food shelves and to get the community engaged to combat hunger issues. The project has been a wonderful success — to date, Little Kitchen has received about 1700 lbs of donated produce.
There’s one important step to the process of receiving food donations that is critical, especially from large-scale sources, such as farmers markets or grocery stores, which often tends to be neglected. You probably can guess it — composting! Of course, the vast majority of the produce donated is distributed to guests of the food shelf. However, when acquiring a huge load of produce, much of which may be nearly expired or just on the cusp of ripeness, on occasion some products will not “move” fast enough. Compost helps cycle those nutrients right back into the garden, so that in springtime, they can be put to good use rather than landfilled, ultimately “closing the loop” on food waste. The new compost bin will help Little Kitchen utilize 2,000 lbs of compost to fuel the growth of their garden next spring for food shelf guests.