Boise & Garden City

Boise composters: You’ll soon get a 2nd place to get free compost. More may follow.

Boise trash, recycling and compost collector Republic Services has dumped more than 31,000 tons of material at a composting yard at Boise’s Twenty South Farm. City residents have claimed 1,350 yards of finished compost, and Boise has sold or itself used 8,600 yards.
Boise trash, recycling and compost collector Republic Services has dumped more than 31,000 tons of material at a composting yard at Boise’s Twenty South Farm. City residents have claimed 1,350 yards of finished compost, and Boise has sold or itself used 8,600 yards. doswald@idahostatesman.com

The city of Boise is trying to get more compost into the hands, yards and gardens of residents who provide the grass clippings, food scraps and other materials that are turned into compost.

Boise wants to open a distribution station, its second, in West Boise. Eventually, it may deliver compost to neighborhoods, making it easier for people to pick up.

Since last year, and not without hiccups, the city has allowed residents to pick up compost for free at a delivery station at the Idaho Botanical Garden. That’s a long drive for most Boiseans.

Now, Boise wants to open a new pick-up station that’s more convenient for people who live in the western part of the city, said Colin Hickman, spokesman for the Public Works Department. The new location is Boise WaterShed, at 11818 Joplin Road, near the city’s West Boise wastewater treatment plant.

The station likely would have some kind of pad, perhaps concrete or gravel, and access that could include a gravel parking area, Hickman said.

Boise needs approval from its own Planning and Zoning Commission, or its City Council, to build the compost station. Hickman said a Planning and Zoning hearing on the proposal likely will take place Monday, Aug. 13.

So far, he said, the city has given away 1,350 cubic yards. To boost that number, the Public Works Department might deliver compost to neighborhoods that want it. Parks and other common areas might make good distribution points.

“We want to think it through as far as where we would place it,” Hickman said. “We want to make sure there’s a solid plan for distribution and what happens if there’s leftovers and any cleanup.”

The city is having no trouble getting rid of compost. Last year, the distribution station ran out of free compost. Again this year, some residents couldn’t get any.

The Parks and Recreation Department has used more than 5,000 cubic yards on its grounds, including some for the initial development of Sterling Park, a previously undeveloped park at West Irving and Mitchell streets to which the city is introducing turf and irrigation this year.

Anything left over can be sold to local businesses. So far, nurseries and landscaping companies have bought about 1,500 yards, generating about $18,000, Hickman said. The city uses that revenue to offset the cost of administering its solid waste programs. Boise expects to sell up to 4,000 cubic yards this year.

The city wants single-family households whose monthly fees fund the composting program to benefit from it, Hickman said. The best way to do that is give them easier access to the finished product.

Since the composting program began last year, trucks for trash-pickup contractor Republic Services have collected 31,000 tons of materials from residents’ green-lidded bins. Most of those materials are grass clippings and other yard waste, produced in Boise’s warm months. The trucks deposit them at Boise’s Twenty Mile South Farm on Cloverdale Road about 20 miles south of Boise, where they’re turned into compost.

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