As we work on Roots & Wings over the next few years we're hoping to create a lot of compost, so we used the winter to plan and prepare. Among the factors we used to decide what kind of compost system to create were the following:
- we hope that lots of people connected with the project who live in apartments and can't easily begin composting themselves will begin to bring us appropriate food scrapes for our compost pile;
- we had a set space available to us to do our composting. It wasn't huge but it was big enough for more than a tumbler or a single bin composter.
Given the amount of material with which we'll be dealing and the space and location, building a three-bin system behind South Church seemed like the best choice.
That means that once we kick off our composting with a workshop a little later this spring, we'll begin to create a pile of "browns" and "greens" in one of the outer bins. Once that bin is filled, we'll aerate it by moving it into the middle bin. It will continue to decompose while we start a second pile in the outer bin. When the second pile has been completely built, we'll move each bin again so that the pile we started first will be on the other outer edge. That will be the pile that at that point should be almost ready to be used. If we time it all correctly once we've been up and running for a while we'll have one pile building, one pile rotting, and one pile ready for use.
To build our bins we started with pallets donated by Readers Hardware Store. We wrapped the pallets in chicken wire, which will allow air and water to get into the bins but keep the composting material from falling out between the slats. We hammered in metal posts that both hold the pallets in place and allow us to raise and lower the front pallets when we need to shovel the composting material from one bin to another.
Once the compost system was basically completed, since we aren't going to start the composting until the weather warms up, we filled all three bins with shredded maple leaves. Over the winter these will break down into leaf mold that we'll be able to use in our garden in the spring.