Plate to Plant- Community Composting Initiative

Following Imagine Grinnell’s mission to create healthier people and a healthier environment in Grinnell, the local nonprofit has set out to support a new initiative: Plate to Plant. This community compost initiative aims to reduce the city’s landfill waste while simultaneously creating nutrient-rich soil. Bella Kugel and Sage Kaplan-Goland, two recent Grinnell College graduates, are launching a pilot program on August 15 to identify the best approach to meet this goal.

“Our pilot program will offer 15–20 participants the opportunity to curbside compost, so each week, for five weeks, participants fill a provided enclosed bucket with compost matter and the Plate to Plant team will pick it up within a given timeframe, much like the garbage pickup,” says Kugel. “We’ll replace the filled bucket with a new, clean bucket and drop the compostable matter into three different types of backyard composters located at Marvin Garden.”

Kugel elaborates that the pilot program will help to identify the best approach to make it easy for Grinnellians to compost while also testing out backyard composting options for the organization to offer in the future. They will test compost matter within a continuous flow-through worm bin, a heat tower with auger mixing and a classic three-bin system.

“We’ll provide instructions for the kinds of food waste and materials that can be put into the buckets,” says Kaplan-Goland. “This will help ensure that the soil will not become contaminated and the backyard bins will not attract vermin or output any sort of unpleasant odors.”

In addition to managing the curbside service and monitoring the compost bin matter, the Plate to Plant team also plans to reduce its carbon footprint by picking up and dropping off bins using a fat tire bike with an attached heavy-duty trailer.

“Bella and Sage have shown incredible diligence in their planning and to run the curbside service through bike pickups fits perfectly with our mission,” says Tim Ellsworth, Imagine Grinnell Co-President. “With the proper resources and interest, this initiative has the opportunity to change our community’s landscape, reducing waste – which will potentially lower our city’s expenditures on waste removal – and also offer nutrient-rich soil for our community gardens, landscapers and any others who have a need for good soil.”

Participants can join the pilot program for $10 per week, but the group hopes to reduce this cost for future services once more resources and efficiencies can be identified. Interested parties may visit to learn more or to donate.