LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster Compost Co-ops initiative aims to build community while providing opportunities for Lancaster City residents to compost their food waste. The co-ops began with two bins last year and will soon have a total of seven after four more are added this summer.

The Lancaster Compost Co-ops are a collection of volunteer-run compost bins around the city. Members commit to about one hour of work per month helping to maintain the bins, and in exchange, they can dispose of their food waste in the bins and use the compost they produce.

There are currently bins in Musser Park, in Culliton Park, and at the New Holland Avenue Recycling Drop-off Center. Composting bins will be added on Greenwood Avenue in the Southwest of the city, in Buchanan Park, in Linear Park, and in a fourth location yet to be determined.

“As we expand, we’re trying to be sure to place the bins in locations that are easily walkable and that are common destinations for all of Lancaster’s residents, while also giving attention to all the various quadrants in the city,” explained Eve Bratman, part of the organizer core for the Lancaster Compost Co-ops and an assistant professor of environmental studies at Franklin & Marshall College.

Bratman says the Northeast area of the city has some well-situated bins, and new bins will be directed toward the Northwest and Southwest.

There are more than 120 households participating at the existing co-ops locations. Composting can help minimize food waste and have environmental benefits, but Bratman hopes the bins will also facilitate community development among the co-ops’ members.

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“Making more of these meeting points and gathering points for community members to do work and socialize together as they connect over the question of food waste is one of our goals through the initiative,” Bratman said.

Placing most of the compost bins in parks can add an additional feature in places where people are already going to recreate, Bratman says, and be part of reimagining the role of public parks.

“Having compost bins as an amenity allows people to come together, to participate in something that is fun and social, while also offering a service that allows people who perhaps don’t have backyard spaces or don’t have access or the know-how to achieve successful composting to be able to learn and to participate in this form of environmental practice,” Bratman says.

Composting can save money for Lancaster City and its residents by reducing the weight carried by garbage trucks, thus reducing the amount of gas needed to haul the waste, Bratman explained. It also repurposes food waste into a product that can be used by urban gardeners to help with water retention and soil health. One of the co-ops’ composting bins produced over 100 gallons of high-quality finished compost over the past year, Bratman noted.

Those interested in joining the Lancaster Compost Co-ops can visit this website to sign up for an orientation session, which is required for all members.