Re: compost
From: Jerry McIntire (
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 08:17:31 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Jude,

I lived in Portland for a while and have visited Trillium Hollow. A lovely
forested site!

I love composting also. I have some suggestions that might be out of the

First, placing scraps directly on/in garden beds (and covering with plenty
of carbon/brown material, or simply digging a bed and covering with earth
as you move through the bed making deposits). This can be done in new
gardening areas, or in fallow beds, or during the off-season (which I know
could be awfully muddy in your winter).

Another idea is a large composter in the common house which would make for
a centralized, dry collection point and would accept all the kitchen scraps
from the community kitchen. This would best be a large batch composter in a
room/basement below the kitchen, and a chute into it from the kitchen. Both
Clivus Multrum and Phoenix Composting Toilets (made in USA!) have these
systems available and they can be used with or without a toilet connected
to them.

Another simple and lower cost system could be a concrete vault with a side
access door near the bottom of the vault and a deposit opening at the top.
If this is built on a slope, which you have, it would work out well. What
would make this work exceptionally well is putting in a wire mesh/expanded
metal grate for worms midway down the chamber, with 2 - 4" openings in it.
Cover the metal mesh with several sheets of newspaper to start, and put a
pound or two of worms on the newspaper. Drop kitchen scraps in regularly,
and the worms will do the digestive work thoroughly giving you faster and
richer compost at the bottom. I've seen this done in Argentina and it
worked very well. It greatly reduces the frequency with which you need to
empty the vault.


Jerry McIntire, Permaculture Designer
Stone's Throw Ecovillage, in the heart of Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless

On Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 9:22 AM, Jude Foster <foster.jude [at]> wrote:

> To change to a more earthy subject, I’d like to open a discussion of
> compost.  Beautiful, sustainable, essential compost.
> My community is committed to a re-design of our compost system in 2015,
> and our ad hoc group is interested in hearing from coho's who have mastered
> this ongoing challenge of sustainability, sharing knowledge and experience.
> Trillium Hollow is a suburban community of 29 households, and this means
> we have lots of kitchen scraps.  We have 3 1/2 acres, with gardens and
> natural forest and greenspace, but no chickens or other animals, not an
> ecovillage.  We have a 3-bin system now, which makes good compost, but
> which is open at the top, not quite big enough, and in the wrong place.  So
> we want to make it better.  Especially, no more nice, warm nesting and
> feeding for rats!
> We have four goals for this re-design:
> rat-proof, largely odor-free, aesthetic, and efficient and effective for
> residents.
> We are considering wood versus concrete, slab vs open earth, roofed with a
> connected open structure for storage, etc etc.  Obviously, there are lots
> of designs online, but our shared lives and abundance of kitchen scraps
> pose unique challenges.
> If you would like to engage in an exchange of photos, ideas, information,
> and inspiration - please reply.
> Yours for the green and growing earth,
> Jude, lead compost person at Trillium Hollow Cohousing in Portland, Oregon.
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