The Champlain Housing Trust hosted a compost training for resident gardeners at Fort Ethan Allen over the weekend, as part of an effort to establish an on-site community compost at the 36-plot neighborhood garden.

The event was part of CHT’s NeighborWorks Week celebration. Each year, NeighborWorks America and its network of local organizations mobilize volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, friends, and local and national leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness.

CHT acquired the garden two years ago when they purchased several apartments at the Fort from the University of Vermont.

“For the past several years, residents have been using a plot in the garden as a place to dump their food scraps and garden waste, but it’s never been managed properly,” said Anna Herman, CHT’s Community Relations Specialist. “The idea behind this project was to create a hot compost system that continues to serve the community but also produces viable compost come spring-time.”

She says the initiative was 100% resident-driven and came at a time when many housing sites are beginning to introduce composting measures in preparation for Vermont’s mandatory composting law, Act 148, which goes into full effect in 2020.

Both NeighborWorks America and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided funding for the project. Natasha Duarte, Director of the Composting Association of Vermont, and Athena Lee Bradley, Projects Manager for the Northeast Recycling Council led the training alongside support from the Vermont Community Garden Network and the Chittenden Solid Waste District. The groups are working together on a pilot community food scrap composting project at three sites outside of Chittenden County to test and support best practices for community-scale compost management.

“Community-scale composting is a great way to manage household food waste and produce valuable soil amendments,” said Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator for the Vermont Community Garden Network. “Projects like this play a key role in empowering communities to keep the vital resource of compost local.”