Farmer Will Allen on Composting

We were honored to have farmer Will Allen on our Neighborhood Food Network Call to talk about compost!

GARDENING

Anne Temple

5/24/2022

On May 16, 2022, we were fortunate to be able to spend time with Farmer Will Allen. Will has been farming for over 60 years and has been called the Godfather of Urban Agriculture.

Will headed an organization called Growing Power, which aimed for sustainable food production, as well as the growth of communities through the creation of local gardens and community food systems. Although Will is no longer with Growing Power, that hasn't slowed him down, as he is still teaching and helping young gardeners and farmers, holding workshops when requested. Will spoke with us about the importance of good soil and how to feed the soil through compost.

What is compost? Compost is the process of taking yard/garden debris and kitchen scraps and breaking it down so it turns back into nutrient-rich soil to feed your garden.

In order to compost, you need carbon, nitrogen, heat, and water. Carbon items could be leaves, shredded cardboard, twigs, woodchips, paper, and even all cotton fabrics. Nitrogen items could be grass clipping, fruit and vegetable scraps, animal manure (not from your pets -- chicken, horse, goat, rabbit and other herbivores), eggshells, coffee grounds and plant trimmings.

The goal is to aim for 30% carbon and 70% nitrogen. Start by layering a carbon layer and then adding a nitrogen layer. Then keep adding layers and toss occasionally and before you know it, you will have beautiful "black gold" to feed your garden!