Community Gardens: Turning Compost at the Northside

Turning compost by hand is not an easy task, especially on a hot day.  Yesterday at Garden City Harvest’s Northside Community Garden, a talented group of people worked especially hard to turn 3 large piles of compost.  With the help of many hands, we made light work of it

As the smell of cooking compost invaded my senses, sweat dripped down my back, and compost fell down into my shoes, I had a small realization.  This compost pile is not just a compost pile, but a focal point of the garden and community.  The Missoula Community Food Co-op  and Thousand New Gardens (1KNG) both contribute to the compost pile by delivering hundreds of pounds of produce and coffee grounds throughout the year.  Several garden neighbors unable to have an at-home compost pile add their kitchen scraps, unsprayed grass clippings, and fall leaves to the pile.

Over the winter, the piles sit unturned and stagnant to the naked eye.  Inside, the pile is decomposing garden refuse, fruits, vegetables, and coffee grounds.  By springtime, we have a mountain of compost to turn and our first Garden workday tackles just that.  Throughout the gardening season we’ll turn the piles about 3-4 more times.  We estimate it takes a full season to turn our first compost pile into usable compost.  This compost then gets turned back into garden plots replacing vital nutrients back into the soil, and helping to grow vigorous veggies.

And those mountains of compost also contribute to the sense of community that is felt at the Northside Community Garden.  If you’ve ever had the chance to spend time at the Northside, aka Nside, you’ll see how the garden functions as a community hub for Northside residents.  The next time you’re at the garden, take a moment to look up and appreciate all that surrounds you.  What you’ll see is a beautiful and thriving community.  The community garden is at its center.