Golden's Community Compost program was birthed in 2017 to provide a much-needed service to our community. Living in a small mountain town, we face unique challenges to composting. A high prevalence of bears and long winters are two of the challenges, making it hard for urban residents to have enough space or the security for back-yard composting. Also, there are residents who live in apartments or rentals that don't allow composting or they simply do not want the chore!
While composting does take work, it also has benefits. In addition to removing food waste from the garbage stream, it can be transformed into a valuable soil amendment. This is where Goonieland Permaculture Farm stepped in to take on the task. Perched on a bench overlooking the Columbia Valley, Goonieland Permaculture Farm raises chickens, pigs and ducks and grows salad greens and commercial hemp. While the Basins valleys are blessed with rich soils, Goonieland sits on a glacial till and clay bench with very little topsoil. In working with the land they had, Permaculture farmers Brian and Nicole, of Goonieland, started with pigs and chickens who lived happily in the hilly forests and gave rich manure they composted to build soil. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the composting wasn't going fast enough. So they decided to start a Community Composting program to bring more compostable materials to the farm to turn into soil. Golden's Community Compost program was born! Nicole used her business Eat Pure Mountain Market as the drop off point and started collecting compost from her customers and a few restaurants around town. As the program grew in popularity, it became evident that slugging compost bins down the stairs into the store basement for storage then back up again was not an ideal plan.
Then came Covid, and with the physical distancing rules, things got even trickier! In the spring of 2019, Nicole heard about grants offered by the Golden & District Community Foundation for projects that helped the community in a Covid friendly way. She had been dreaming of solutions to the compost dilemma and jumped at the opportunity. With a friend's help, she applied for a grant and bought a small trailer to serve as an outdoor drop off point for compost. The Community Compost program received a $400 grant from the foundation, which turned the trailer into a compost work of art and helped pay for the insurance to get it on the road. Kate Thomson was the artist who helped turn an idea into a mobile mural promoting composting!
The trailer now sits at Eat Pure Thursdays and Fridays 10 am-6 pm, ready to collect food waste in a physically distanced way! Community members use a bin at home to collect food waste, then on collection days, bring it to dump into the larger collection bins in the trailer. Once at Goonieland, the food waste goes into a giant compost bin inside the chicken coop. The chickens get to snack on the veggie scraps and do a terrific job of turning the compost. Every few months, the pile is removed from the coop and left to age, turning into a rich dirt-smelling compost added to perennial trees or used to build new garden beds. Eggs and salad greens are then sold back to the community via Eat Pure Mountain Market, and the cycle of food waste to soil and back into food is complete! We want to thank the Golden & District Community Foundation for making a Covid-friendly composting dream come true and to Kate for her incredible artwork and enthusiasm. If you are interested in joining the compost program, you can pick up a brochure at Eat Pure Mountain Market to learn the do's and don'ts. The program runs year-round, providing a regenerative solution to food waste for Golden.