Starting a new community composting scheme

If you would like to start a community compost site at a nearby community centre, in a park, on a grass verge or disused green space near you, then please read through the steps below to understand the process. If you want to proceed, get in touch using the enquiry form at the bottom of this page.

Though sometimes the steps below don’t happen in this order, they all need to be completed before the bins are installed. Please be aware that the process of setting up a new scheme can take several months and requires volunteers to be proactive, organised and passionate about composting. If you are unsure about doing this on your own, we may be able to link you up with another community member who can help.

1. Find a suitable site
Is there a patch of earth near you that could be home to a couple of compost boxes? It needs to be flat, away from people’s homes, offices and open windows; in a well-lit and easily accessible area, and preferably on grass. Though some schemes may be smaller they work best if they have the following space:

compost bin diagram

2. Initial enquiries
Once we have received your enquiry form, we will have a chat with you to discuss viability. We then liaise with the Council, find out who owns the land and seek their permission. This can take time and the answer is not always yes. The Council also need to register the proposed site with the Environment Agency. We will often do a site visit with you to check the suitability. Depending on who owns the land, alternative funding sources may be investigated.

3. Find others to join the scheme
To start, you need a group of at least 10 residents including two compost monitors who will share the responsibility of the scheme. The contact details of the members are held by the Food Partnership and accessed only by monitors to comply with our privacy policy.

Usually the people who help set up a new scheme are the monitors. The monitors will need to agree to the Compost Monitor Roles and Responsibilities (pdf).

4. Consult with the local community & land owners
Monitors will need to do some community consultation which usually involves putting up posters and speaking to neighbours and residents groups in person and online to check there are no objections to setting up the scheme. Any concerns and objections that are raised during this phase will be carefully considered including any proposals for alternative sites. Ultimately the landowner (usually the council) will have to give permission and have the final say, but we do our best to work with local residents and neighbourhoods to balance the high demand for compost facilities as well as resident’s preferences. If a proposed site has mixed responses, sometimes a trial phase of 6 months is a way forward, but each site is different.

5. Bins installed
Once a decision has been made, the bins, locks and worms are ordered and the bins installed. Food Partnership staff offer inductions to new monitors and members and hand out free caddies for members to use in their kitchen.

6. Composting begins
Residents add their raw fruit and veg waste, worms are added, and composting begins. The compost monitors keep an eye on how things are going and contact members and the Food Partnership if there are any issues. Monitors organise a rota of members who help turn the compost regularly which keeps it healthy.

7. Compost is ready!
Compost is ready when it is dark and crumbly and no longer has identifiable food pieces in it. Members get priority for taking the ready compost and whatever is left is offered to local community gardens or advertised by the Food Partnership for gardeners to come and collect it.

Next steps

Please complete the form below if you are interested to start a new scheme.

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