Compost Ordinance Passes
This morning, the Council unanimously passed the compost ordinance I authored. This is a big deal for Minneapolis, in two important ways.
First, it fits into the broader Homegrown Minneapolis initiative to grow more food in our city. Much of our soil is compacted, depleted, or contaminated from decades of urban use. If we really want to grow more healthy local food, first we have to grow more healthy local dirt. Composting is the best way to do that.
Second, this ordinance fits into the City's broader environmental initiatives. We have aggressive goals to create less waste - for instance, by burning less garbage. One of the key ways to increase our diversion rate will be to get the reusable organics out of the waste stream. And if we're going to compost that material, there is literally no better place to manage it than in our backyards and community gardens, where it's generated.
This ordinance makes major progress on both of those goals. It dramatically increases the amount of composting folks can do in their backyards, and increases the amount of composting people can do at community gardens even more. It gives folks flexibility in the design of their composting bins. It makes clear that people don't need to use (and really shouldn't use) green-treated lumber to build compost bins. And if folks create problems (odors, attracting pests), our staff can now require that they take a course in how to compost properly.
I want to thank a few people specifically. As I said in the last post, Russ Henry got this initiative started and was an invaluable asset all through the process. Sarah Sponheim presented the environmental/waste reduction case very well in committee. Kirsten Saylor presented the community garden case very well. Beth Dooley and Mustafa Sundiata wrote a great letter from the Food Council. Anna Cioffi successfully organized the grower community to call their Council Members on this. Eric Larsen, Nate Watters and others from Stone’s Throw farm helped write the ordinance amendments and organize support around them.
On the staff side, Patrick Hanlon did a great job presenting to committee, assisted by JoAnn Velde. Aly Pennucci prepped some very effective sample site plans that really helped make clear what the amendment would do. My Policy Aide, Robin Garwood, provided irreplaceable coordination and leadership throughout the process. Ginny Black from the MPCA and John Jaimez from Hennepin County vetted the ordinance and Ginny gave us a formal letter of support.
I look forward to having similar success on the Urban Agriculture Text Amendments next Council cycle.