Pittsburgh, PA

Community composting and currency build self-reliance and food security

The Homepage, published by Hazelwood Initiative

By Daniel Little

The Hazelwood Food Recycling Site is one link in a self-contained neighborhood supply chain that is helping address poverty and protect the environment using community currency. 

At involveMINT, we know people are doing a lot of work that goes unvalued or unreciprocated. Despite how hard they work, many people are not getting their basic needs met. The pandemic has only made inequalities worse. The vital work to meet needs like caring for others and the environment is among the lowest paid - if it is paid at all. 

That is where community currency and small, local supply chains come in. We all saw what happened (and continues to happen) with fragile global supply chains during the pandemic: they broke down, and many vulnerable communities lost access to fresh food.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1y1uBR_0fzhdDSu00
Brochure courtesy of involveMINT

So involveMINT developed the idea for a Food Recycling Site with feedback from Community Kitchen, Hazelwood Initiative, and residents of Hazelwood. It hot-composts food waste diverted from homes and businesses by combining it with woodchips and cardboard collected from the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works. The compost we produce is then used to grow fresh and healthy food. 

Composting food waste is important because when we throw food in the garbage, all the nutrients are lost in landfills. We will never get those back. Moreover, rotting food in landfills releases methane, a gas that contributes to climate change. Intensive farming has stripped farmland of vital nutrients, so the produce in stores is becoming less nutritious. Compost replenishes the soil, makes our food more nutritious and protects the environment.

At the composting site, community stewards work to keep things on track. Through their efforts, involveMINT provides three services essential to a healthy food economy: fresh produce, compost, and food waste diversion. Much of the produce we have grown goes to Fishes and Loaves and Holy Cross Lutheran church. And the stewards take home community currency to spend at neighborhood businesses. 

Negril Curbside, Dylamato’s, Floriated Interpretations, Elizabeth Pharmacy and Elevationz all accept community currency. In turn, these businesses use the currency to buy produce directly from the site or buy waste diversion services from Worm Return. Worm Return pays the currency back at the site to process the food waste. 

The beauty of this model - and the community currency that supports it - is that we are growing the food economy with little outside help, increasing self-reliance and resilience in the face of potential global breakdowns.

Local vendors accepting community currency keeps resources flowing in the neighborhood. When we find gaps in local supply chains, we fill them by seeding new enterprises that can help serve the community’s needs.

We invite all businesses and residents of greater Hazelwood to join us in this effort by visiting .involvemint.io/getinvolved

To have your food waste, cardboard and leaves collected, inquire here tinyurl.com/HazelwoodFRS
Dan Little is the founder and CEO of involveMINT.

Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., publisher of The Homepage, is a community development corporation and a registered community organization. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. does not profit by or receive compensation from contributors or organizations for mentions or links in Homepage articles.

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The Homepage is a print newspaper delivered monthly to households in Greater Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, New Homestead, Lincoln Place and The Run. Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., a community-based nonprofit, publishes The Homepage through a grant from the City of Pittsburgh and advertising revenue from local businesses and organizations. The mission of Hazelwood Initiative, as a community-based development corporation, is to build a stronger Hazelwood through inclusive community development. Sonya Tilghman, Executive Director of Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. (she/her) Juliet Martinez, Managing Editor of The Homepage (they/them) Sarah Kanar, Layout and Design of The Homepage(she/her)

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