CHHS Key Club hosts fundraiser to encourage composting

Trashing table scraps is a thing of the past. The Columbia Heights Key Club is helping to facilitate an organics recycling avenue by hosting a fundraiser to encourage composting.

Anne Sumangil and Russell Scholer dropping off their organics at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center on April 15.  (Sun Focus photos by Sarah Burghardt)
Anne Sumangil and Russell Scholer dropping off their organics at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center on April 15. (Sun Focus photos by Sarah Burghardt)

In partnership with the Columbia Heights-Fridley Kiwanis, the Key Club is selling 20 pound bags of compost soil through an organics composting education program called “Plate to Garden.” From now until June 17, residents can purchase the bags for $3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center, 3801 Madison Street NE.

The Plate to Garden program was developed by the Minnesota Composting Council in an effort to complete the loop of growing food, eating food and turning food scraps back into soil to grow food again. The fundraising opportunity helps community organizations and schools to raise money for their organization or charity while educating citizens about the benefits of composting and using finished compost.

This is the Key Club’s third year participating in the program. The funds benefit the members of the club by providing scholarships and opportunities to further their leadership skills.

Jesse Davies with the Public Works Department said the city’s goal is to keep materials out of the trash.

“Organics don’t have to be in the trash; it can be composted and turned into something useful,” Davies said.

Many residents don’t know that recycling leftover food can lead to strengthening and preserving the environment. It’s also incredibly easy to do. The Columbia Heights Public Works Department offers a free starter kit for residents interested in joining the movement. The kit includes a five gallon pail with a lid, a small kitchen basket and required bags for disposal.

Residents simply fill the kitchen basket with food scraps, soiled paper napkins and other paper products. Those bags can then be thrown into the pail with the lid until it’s full. The pail can then be emptied into the organics container at the recycling center. Soiled pizza boxes and paper egg cartons are also accepted.

Columbia Heights Key Club members Yunduk Tsering, Soshanna Truong and Namduk Tsering bagging up the compost soil for the Plate to Garden fundraising event. The Key Club is selling three pound bags for $3 on Saturdays, now through June 17.
Columbia Heights Key Club members Yunduk Tsering, Soshanna Truong and Namduk Tsering bagging up the compost soil for the Plate to Garden fundraising event. The Key Club is selling three pound bags for $3 on Saturdays, now through June 17.

The organics containers are emptied weekly and brought to an industrial composting facility where the waste is recycled into compost. The Plate to Garden program allows for volunteers, in this case the CHHS Key Club, to bag up the soil and use it as a fundraising opportunity.

Columbia Heights resident Jenny Ketchum has been composting for the past few years. Formally a resident of Northeast Minneapolis, Ketchum was excited when Columbia Heights began to offer organics recycling.

“I’m super happy that we have it available,” Ketchum said. “I’m very excited about it because instead of going into landfills, it can be turned into beautiful rich dirt.”
Going forward, Ketchum hopes more local restaurants and businesses will begin to participate in organics recycling.

Other than minimizing household waste, there are many benefits to using compost in gardens. Adding compost to soil can improve its composition, allowing for increased ability to hold nutrients for plant use. This nutrient boost can add to greater moisture retention, lessening the need for frequent watering. Additionally, compost is a completely natural and chemical-free fertilizer, meaning it use can reduce phosphorus runoff into lakes and rivers. For those who don’t have space for a yard, compost can also provide the same benefits to potted plants.

Along with many residents contributing their organic waste to better the community, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community generously donated compost for the fundraiser to the CHHS Key Club.

All residents are encouraged to participate in organics recycling. Call the Public Works Department at 763-706-3700 to receive the free organics starter kit.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]

 Residents are able to buy $3 three pound bags of compost at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center now through June 16 every Saturday. Profits will benefit the Columbia Heights Key Club, a community service volunteer program.  Columbia Heights residents Ryan and Kim Sebesta dropping off their organics at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center on April 15.
Jenny Ketchum purchasing a bag of compost from the Columbia Heights Key Club.
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Residents are able to buy $3 three pound bags of compost at the Columbia Heights Recycling Center now through June 16 every Saturday. Profits will benefit the Columbia Heights Key Club, a community service volunteer program.