Transition Milwaukee

Rebuilding Community Resilience & Self-Reliance

There has been increasing talk in various local sustainability & urban ag groups about the need for neighborhood composting systems, perhaps in the form of one or more compost cooperatives. Opinions vary as to how centralized and "big" this should be. But we all seem to agree there are needs for (a) more soil for urban gardens (because of contamination in many existing urban soils) and (b) better use of local 'waste' materials, such as coffee grounds, brewery waste, food scraps, etc.

What is the next step in moving the conversation forward? Should Transition Milwaukee host a discussion on the topic? Should we invite a wide range of stakeholders, and/or start with one small neighborhood composting project? How/where might such a project operate? Will local codes need to be changed to allow for neighborhood composting?

Feel free to brainstorm here and suggest ways to move to action.

Meanwhile, some links to explore:
Growing Gardens Neighborhood Compost Project, Boulder, CO
Neighborhood Compost Map, a novel way to help neighbors locate nearby compost sites, Philadelphia, PA
Cascade Compost Project, Seattle, WA

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What about changing the local rules about the size of the compost piles? They are kinda small.
Hi Marc,

What are the rules about compost pile sizes? Actually it would be helpful to have all the codes/regulations relevant to composting posted here. Some people mistakenly believe "composting is illegal in Milwaukee." I understand that technically residents are supposed to take a course before they can legally compost? Also is it true piles must be enclosed on all sides? (This sounds like a recipe for going anaerobic. Perhaps our composting codes are in need of updating?

Those who live in other municipalities, if you post your local composting codes here I can compile them into one page. Thanks!
I contacted the site owners for PhillyCompost and asked his permission to adapt his map idea for Milwaukee. He happily said yes, so I created one.

Milwaukee Compost
Very cool, Joe! This is a little bit of a tangent, but I wonder if we can/should combine the compost site map with a map of garden swap sites (people looking for garden space and people willing to share) and/or other aspects of urban ag.

Here's a group using a fancy custom version of Google Maps for garden swapping:,%20DC

Some people found the Blitz Google map hard to use, and then someone accidentally deleted all my instructions. (Lesson learned: keep a back-up of the instructions somewhere.) There is another map program called Sticky Maps that apparently is specifically for community groups. I don't know much more about it than that. Might have some advantages over Google Maps.
Joe you rock!
Community Growers and The Victory Garden Initiative are looking for venues to collect organic matter. We already have a few sources on board and we have a site slated for production. Please let send us any leads on where we might get more compost materials :)


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