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Could a pilot home composting program help decrease food, yard waste in Lexington?

MAY 19, 2021 7:37 AM

One of Seedleaf’s composting bins on Third Street in Lexington Seedleaf, a nonprofit, is a community gardening and composting organization. MALCOLM STALLONSLFUCG

The city of Lexington may soon offer compost units to encourage more people to throw away less food and yard waste.

Under the proposed pilot program, participants on city garbage service can either choose a free compost unit or get a compost unit at a reduced cost after participating in workshops that will cover how to compost and use various compost units, troubleshooting and other topics.

Pilot participants will also take short surveys over a one-year process.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilwoman Hannah LeGris had proposed the pilot program to increase composting and decreasing food and yard waste from going to the landfills. The pilot program will cost $9,000. LeGris said Tuesday she will ask for the program to be funded in the upcoming budget, which begins July 1. The money would come from the urban services fund, which is separate from the general fund, which is the city’s main checking account.

“LFUCG has begun much-needed discussions about what happens to the city’s waste,” said LeGris Tuesday during the council’s Environmental Quality and Public Works Committee. “The next step in that conversation is about food waste and how we can divert it from the waste stream.”

Angela Poe, program manager for the Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, said the pilot would consist of three workshops starting in August. Seedleaf, a nonprofit that focuses on community gardening and composting, has offered to host the workshops.

“There are three different types of composters at three different price points,” Poe said.

A worm composter costs about $50. That composter would be given to participants for free. A stationary composter, which typically accommodates larger amounts, usually costs around $85. Participants could get it at a discounted rate of $35. A tumbling composter, which can rotate the waste, typically costs around $100. It would be given to participants for $50.

“The plan is for the city to buy these and then to give them to the participants,” Poe said. Poe said it’s possible the city, because it will buy the units in bulk, will get a discount, further decreasing the costs to households.

Poe said the city has not held a workshop on composting in many years. However, when it did, those workshops sold out, Poe said, indicating potential interest in a program.

Poe said the $9,000, which includes Seedleaf’s workshops, the compost units and other costs, would cover 60 households.

The council will likely take its first vote on the budget sometime in June. No council member spoke against the pilot proposal Tuesday.


Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.

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