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Source: Newsday

Residents join new N. Hempstead composting cooperative

BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER

Posted: May 3, 2010
Originally Published: April 29, 2010

North Hempstead residents will be able to turn their kitchen scraps into compost soil for gardens through a program town officials announced Thursday at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson.

The town's Composting Cooperative is the first such program on Long Island, said Supervisor Jon Kaiman. The town purchased about 500 composters for $110 each. They're available for a fee of $50 to residents who have taken a lesson on composting at Clark Botanic Garden.

Kaiman said the town decided to promote composting after a meeting with leaders from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who told him that getting more people to compost was a key concern.

"Composting is a way for us to reduce our garbage stream," Kaiman said.

At a trade show upstate, Kaiman said, he and other town leaders saw an exhibit of plastic, cylindrical composting bins.

"What if we bought a bunch of them and gave them away?" he said. But they were concerned that if the town simply gave the bins away, residents might not be motivated to use them.

So far, 320 residents have signed up, Kaiman said. Those who want a town bin should call 311.

The bins, about 30 inches tall, are meant to be kept outdoors. More companies are making products that can wind up as compost instead of in landfills, said Maureen Dolan Murphy, executive programs manager of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, holding up a bag of SunChips as an example. The bag, made of plant-based materials, can be broken down in a composter.

Mindy Germain, executive director of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, said her civic group has been going into schools and teaching students about the importance of composting.

Thursday, Jenny Ulsheimer, the garden's horticulturist, demonstrated how to use the composting bin. She threw in small pieces of newspaper, plant trimmings, seed-free weeds, worms and eggshells. Meat and dairy should not be composted because of odor and maggots.

She added some water and spun the bin. In about six to eight months, or longer, she said, the mixture will turn into nutrient-rich soil.