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#milliontomato Front Yard #millionbucket Garden: October Update

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Summer. Hello? Where you go, Summer?

Well, that was fast. A blur really. I can’t believe it’s already the middle of October. Fall is in full force. Leaves are turning. Crisp mornings. Oddly, we haven’t had our first killer frost yet though. Hmmm?

Our #miiliontomato in a #millionbucket Front Yard Garden Project went great! We had a great tomato growing summer here in Northwest Lower Michigan. The plants were crushing it in their buckets. Big. Bushy. Happy.

We grew all sorts of tomato types. Cherries. Romas. Big Boys. Yellow pears. Apparently, if you grow tomatoes in a mixture of 100% awesome compost, you get some 100% delicious tomatoes. We harvested 2 bushels of some of the yummiest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.

We did get a few strange looks. Our 5×5 bucket grid took up most of the front yard. When the plants grew big and tall, it looked a bit out of hand. But in an awesome kind of way. We completed the cycle by growing neighborhood food with neighborhood compost using neighborhood buckets. Rad.

We’ve taken the buckets down and composted the plants. We’re dreaming up big plans for next year. 10×10 grid? Help other neighbors set up their own bucket array? Community bucket garden at the F&M park?

Happy Autumn and Compost On!

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The Carter’s Compost Urban Farm

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The Carter’s Compost Urban Farm “completes the cycle” by growing neighborhood food using neighborhood compost made from neighborhood kitchen scraps and leaves.

Our farm is a zerowaste (nothing grown in the yard, leaves the yard), no till/gas-powered equipment (can you say, “Double dig?”), use-everything-at-least-twice (re-purpose/re-use/re-love), try-not-to-spend-any-money (borrow/share/trade/barter instead), kid-friendly garden which features:

veggie (tomato, peas, onions, garlic, squash, beans, potato, peppers) beds,
a dwarf fruit tree (cherry, apple, peach, apricot, cherry, pear) orchard,
raspberry and blueberry patches,
the C’sC Dirt Factory,
Mushrooms! (wine cap straphoria),
a working Worm Ranch,
rain barrels,
perennial veggies including asparagus and rhubarb,
bird friendly habitat with houses/baths/feeders,
native edibles including saskatoon bushes,
and the Ladies of the Washington Street Hennery.

We grow our food with love and organically using basic permaculture principles to feed our family here in the beautiful Oak Park Neighborhood of Traverse City.

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Traverse City’s First Community Pile: The Oryana Neighborhood Compost Station

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In case you needed another reason as to why Oryana is a TC leader in all things awesome, go check out their new Neighborhood Compost Station. It’s very cool. Built of recycled-reused-reawesomed pallets in a very functional and stylish 3 bin system. The real deal.

We are super excited to partner with our local co-op to bring Traverse City it’s first (?) Neighborhood Compost Station. This is the beginning of what we hope will be many more Community Piles in and around TC.

As part of our Community Sustained Compost Project, this station will help us find more space as well as help our customers and Oryana’s members reduce their waste and grow wonderful garden soil.

Each spring and fall, we will help host a Neighborhood Compost Screening Fiesta to harvest the black gold so it can be used to grow neighborhood food.

Thanks so much to Oryana for supporting Carter’s Compost and for helping us to green our TC.

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Swag from the Pile: A Fall Fund Raiser

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Help support bike powered, neighborhood bucket slinging in Traverse City.

Our Fall Fund Raiser features some sweet C’sC swag from the Pile:

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1. 5” Bumper Stickers (printed locally at Signs Now!) of our awesome logo designed by Mike Erway. $5

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2. 2”x14” Bike decals. (Thanks again to Signs Now!) Perfect for your down tube! An awesome way to spruce up that old Trek. $5.

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3. The Official C’sC T-Shirts (new shirts will have black font). Again, locally made by the folks at Britten Gear. Adult sizes only at this time. $15.

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4. Upgrade that tired kitchen compost bin with the rad AirMax Counter-Top Pail + a roll of 25 2 gallon compostable BioBags. $20

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5. 500 red wigglers in a Ready-To-Go C’sC 5 gallon bucket Worm Bin. Vermicompost is both Fun and Awesome! $30

If you live in the ‘hood, we can deliver your swag (by bike of course!). We accept cash, checks to Carter’s Compost, Bay Bucks and PayPal (let me know if you want to pay electronically and I’ll send an invoice…$1 fee applied).

We can ship everything except the Airmax and Worms bins.

Thank You for supporting Carter’s Compost and for helping us to green TC one bucket at a time!

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#Leaves4Carter

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Photo Credit: Beth Price

It’s that time of year again here in Northern Michigan. And although we’d much rather be riding our bikes, we’re looking forward to harvesting some leaves this fall.

We are nothing without our leaves or “browns”. They are an integral part of our C’sC recipe.

Neighborhood Kitchen Scraps + Neighborhood Leaves = Neighborhood Compost.

For every bucket of kitchen scraps or “greens” we dump into the pile, we add 3 buckets of leaves. Leaves that we get from our neighborhood maple trees. They’re free. They’re local. They’re delicious and nutritious.

We pick-up a lot of buckets so we need a lot of leaves! Our #Leaves4Carter program invites our TC neighbors to help by bagging/delivering some leaves to Carter’s Compost World HQ. Please no grass or other yard waste.

Email us at carterscompost@gmail.com with questions.

Thank you for supporting bike-powered community composting and helping to green our Traverse City!

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United Way’s Day of Caring: The Neighborhood Compost Fiesta Project

Today we hosted our first big neighborhood compost screening party. As part of United Way’s Day of Caring, we had 15 awesome people come over to C’sC World HQ to screen compost and wrangle worms. We had a group from TBAISD Career Tech, two from Edible Grand Traverse Magazine, a current C’sC member and volunteer extraordinaire Mr. Gavin. In all, we had 16 volunteers help out plus I got to miss school for a bit which was awesome.

Here’s the stats:

– 10 five-gallon buckets full of 100% awesome compost…roughly 300lbs!
– 3 worm bins cleaned
– 6 new worm bins built
– 15 buckets of “tchmil” (big bits of not-yet-broken-down organic matter that we use as mulch in the C’sC Urban Farm garden)
– 5 big jars of worm tea brewed
– 13 new friends!
– 4 pancakes at the Open Space breakfast eaten

With all this freshly squeezed compost look for the Carter’s Compost Neighborhood Dirt Market to open soon for the fall season.

Thank You to our rockstar volunteers for helping us out. We really do appreciate it as we can’t do it alone. They were all enthusiastic, eager to learn, not afraid to get dirty, gentle with the worms and super hard workers. Truly Compost Champions! See you next year!

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Compost Screening Fiesta

We had the crew from Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative (MYOI) over to C’sC HQ last week for our first ever Compost Screening Fiesta.

It was awesome.

We had 6 dirt screens. A bunch of wheelbarrows full of finished compost right out of he pile. The tunes rocking. And we got to work.

The guys and gals were quick learners. Screen gently. Looking for worms. Saving the worms. Putting the “Tchmil” (a word we made up for the bits that aren’t broken down yet) into a special bucket which we use as mulch in the garden, orchard and perennial beds.

We screened 7 5-gallon buckets full of 100% awesome, locally grown compost. That’s about 200 pounds of beautiful black-gold ready to go into our neighbor’s gardens.

Our next Fiesta will be part of the United Way’s Day of Caring on September 12th. You can sign up here.

See you soon and Compost On!

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The Lets-Help-Carter-Not-Have-To-Scrub-So-Many-Buckets Project

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Riding bikes around TC. Wrangling worms. Finding bugs in the pile. But if you asked me what is the worst part of bucket slinging. That’s Easy. No contest. Scrubbing the buckets after dumping them.

We scrub the buckets by hand. Almost everyday. It isn’t pretty. Elbow deep in sometimes chunky, smelly, nasty water. Scrubbing to make them as lovely as possible. And although we’ve gotten pretty good at it over the past year and a half (we have a system…rubber gloves, harvested rain water, biodegradable soap, newspaper for scrubbing, start at the top and work your way down), it’s still a very time consuming and a less than awesome part of the job.

The Lets-Help-Carter-Not-Have-To-Scrub-So-Many-Buckets Project hopes to remedy this so that we can become more efficient in our day to day operations. We will be using BioBag’s awesome, super ventilated AirMax counter-top compost bins with their breathable 2 gallon, certified compostable kitchen bag to keep the scraps as dry and thus, as stink (anaerobic scraps = stinky!) free as possible. This will allow my neighbors to simply toss the bag into the bucket. No mess! Easy-peasy. Less stinky in the kitchen for my customers and less bucket scrubbing at home for me. Bam! That’s a winner!

You can buy BioBag’s kitchen bags at several places in TC including Oryana and we will also sell the AirMax and a roll of 25 bags for just $15 (a smokin’ deal as Amazon has them listed at 11.28 and 8.75, respectively). Additional rolls can be purchased from us for $5.

Another option is just lining your bucket with a regular grocery store paper bag. It works pretty well. The bag happily breaks down in the pile with everything else. As always, we ask that you don’t dump a lot of liquid in.

I’d also like to thank BioBag, the WORLD leader in all things compostable!!, for sponsoring this project and supporting bike powered, neighborhood composting. Thanks guys!

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Carter’s College of Compostology

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Compost isn’t complicated. You can’t really screw it up. It’ll just happen. But it does help to have a system. We certainly aren’t compost science experts but we do have a system.

Carter’s College of Compostology will share this small scale, neighborhood system by offering informal meet-ups and tours of our backyard operation. Come learn how we build, manage, create, turn, problem-solve and screen our piles as we “complete the cycle” from table to pile to garden to table.

Or maybe you’re into worms and vermicomposting. Come pick your own and learn how to build your own bin. We can teach you how we use red wigglers to reduce waste, save landfill space and grow awesome garden soil.

The C’sC School of Dirt hopes to educate our neighbors so we can have more compost piles (or worm farms!) in more backyards here in Traverse City.

Email me at if you want a tour or just stop by C’sC World HQ.

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Graduation Season

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Only 2 more days of school here in Traverse City. Very exciting. I’m graduating from 3rd grade and Eastern Elementary (I’m going to a new school next year….Central Grade!). My brother, Jamo, is graduating from kindergarten (atta boy , dude!). And lots of my neighbors are graduating from my kitchen scrap picker-upper service to having their own compost pile. So far we’ve had 6 neighbors start composting in their own backyard and we are very proud of them.

We’ve got some nice letters too. Like this one from Melanie, a librarian in the Kid Section at my favorite library:

Hey Carter,

Thanks to you, I am finally starting my own backyard compost! I’ve thought about doing it for a long time – but never seemed to make the time to get started. Because of Carter’s Compost, I took a step in the right direction and am finally there! I’ll drop off my bucket this week as I know you have plenty of customers waiting to use them. Thank you for what you are doing for our community and environment!

Sincerely,
Melanie

And this one from Mrs. Bullard:

Dear Carter,
Thank YOU. Your composting service has been wonderful, and has been so easy to get started! I’ll continue to compost with my next door neighbors who have a pile going. Plus our neighborhood is really great and people connect, so we’ll spread the work and see if we can get more people involved as we gather this summer.

Thanks again to all of my neighbors for their support over the past year and for helping us to green TC. Our Community Sustained Compost Project is helping to grow more neighborhood compost to then in turn grow more neighborhood food. Someday there will be a compost pile in every backyard to go along with the garden in every backyard.

Compost On!