Composting in Public Spaces: Sharing What We’ve Learned!

Community Composting Resources


Bin design by Pete Leki, rendered by Yesica Barrera

The Chicago Food Policy Action Council’s Compost Resouce Page

You care about community composting!

So we invite you to register for this free and fun event at Waters Garden!

NeighborSpace garden leaders and stakeholders, in partnership with sponsor Hills Brothers Coffee, are hosting two hands-on community composting education days.

Community and school gardens are public gathering spaces where multiple people participate in various ways. Composting systems in these spaces have to be managed thoughtfully and creatively to be successful. Join us for this very special gathering, where compost education leaders host a fun day-long event for us all to share what we've learned along the way.

 Sessions will be hosted by

Pete Leki, Julie Peterson, and Yesica Barrera, of Riverbank Neighbors and the Waters Ecology program, 

Laura Calvert, the Executive Director of Advocates for Urban Agriculture,

Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council, and

Breanne Heath of the Peterson Garden Project.

as well as some others who have experimented and led in organizing composting at a community level.  

Description of Sessions-

Workshop A-

Composting Program Policy: Best and Most Difficult Practices

This discussion will begin by examining a wide variety of signs, evidence of vastly differing composting program policies. Many stories will be shared as guides to success and warnings of trouble. Signage takes on a new dimension for composting programs as a result of the new Chicago City Composting Ordinance. This session will provide the information a composting program leader needs to know and give opportunity to discuss the subtleties of various composting situations. Designs for signs will be provided.

Workshop B-

Build the Bin, Build the Pile, Build the Compost!

Work with a Team to Build a 5 ft by 5 ft by 3 ft Bin Robust Compost Bin for Your Public Space

In this hands-on workshop, participants will be guided through the process of building a frame for a compost bin, lid and bottom included. Pre-cut materials allow for quick assembly but thorough understanding of the build process. They will also help attach ¼ inch hardware cloth all around the bin to rat proof the bin, and simultaneously keep the air moving. Finally, participants will work with materials to build the pile, and learn special chopping methods and techniques that help in turning waste into the soil you want for your garden.

Participants will also-

We will discuss other bin designs and the factors that feed into bin design decisions.

Workshop C-

Troubleshooting and Thriving at Community Composting: When Schools and Communities Combine:

In this workshop, we’ll go through common problems and solutions of composting in the city in public spaces. We will examine the challenges and opportunities of community gardens and schools working together. Special attention and inspection will be given to the new requirements of the Chicago Composting Ordinance. With a simple guide, issues such as pests, humidity, pH, oxygen, or nitrogen/carbon balance and temperature will be demystified. No less important are troubles or support of neighbors, the city, school communities, perceived beauty and stink as well as the public awareness of the composting project and its story in relation to caring for our planet. We will provide helpful materials and ideas to help your project thrive. This session includes talk of pests, neighbors, the man, the stink, too much of this, too little of that, community support, and more real life stories!

Register for Northside Event
Northside Workshop
Nov 4, 9:30 to 3:00
Waters Elementary School
4540 N Campbell Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

Register for Southside Event

Southside Workshop
Nov 11, 9:30 to 3:00
Montessori School of Englewood
6396 S Hermitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60636


If you have questions, please contact Julie Peterson at the following email-