Thursday, August 22, 2013
The premise of the Hill City Community Compost project is that good soil is the foundation of a healthy, happy community.
Monika Groppe, a Hill City resident who had previously started a community garden at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, had been wanting to do a community project in her own area. In the spring of 2013 she asked the pastor of First Calvary Baptist Church if she could use the property at 301 Bell Ave. for a community garden. He agreed, and the church provided the materials to start the garden, which is now sprouting fresh fruits and veggies such as cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions, bell peppers, lettuce and leeks.
The only problem is the area’s lack of fertile soil, said Groppe. Purchasing and transporting fertile soil is expensive, she added.
The solution she and other garden participants have come up with is to purchase two composting bins. The closed-system composting units heat up and break down organic waste into fertile soil, she explained.
Groppe said she did a lot of research on composting before selecting these particular bins, called Earth Tubs. Some people have a negative view of composting because they think it smells and attracts bugs, she said.
“The closed system keeps insects and animals from being attracted and prevents odors,” said Groppe.
Designed by Green Mountain Technologies, the Earth Tubs cost $5,000 each. So far, the Hill City Community Compost project has raised around $700 through its campaign at Causeway.org as well as through the Muenster Truck, which donates 10 percent of its profits to the project.
The Hill City Neighborhood Association supports the project, as does City Councilman Chip Henderson, Groppe said.
“He’s been very supportive,” she said of Henderson. “He even brought by some plants for the garden.”
The goal is to have the money raised within the year and have at least one bin in place by December. The composting station will be set up so anyone can drive through easily and drop off organic waste such as coffee or tea grounds, grass, fruit and vegetable waste and egg shells.
The bins will produce more than enough fertile soil for the community garden, and the excess soil will be given to Hill City residents and other community gardens in addition to being sold at the Corner Market in Hill City, said Groppe.
“It’s a unique cause that can serve as an example for other communities,” she said. “It’s a one-time investment that will go a really long way.”
Once the composting bins have been purchased, Groppe plans to teach others how to use composting to create more sustainable communities.