Victor, our first biker, and Sandy, our volunteer field manager, attending the Citizen’s Committee grant reception May 2nd. BK ROT received $2700 for a Community Grant in partnership with Sure We Can and a $600 Compost Grant to promote compost awareness and education. We are so excited to move forward with a little support this spring!
Through our partnership with Sure We Can and El Garden, we secured a grant for much needed safety equipment, materials and supplies to collect more compost and hire more local youth!
What to bring:
Food scraps: fruit scraps (please freeze these for one day before drop off), vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, dry grains, fresh and dry leaves, green plants, prunings, hedge trimmings, grass clippings, flower bouquets, dry leaves, nuts, dead plants, corn cobs, straw and hay, untreated wood chips and sawdust, shredded paper, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, old potting soil, egg shells (but NO eggs)
NO MEAT, FISH, EGGS, CHEESE or DAIRY PRODUCTS
- NO RUBBERBANDS, TWIST TIES or STICKERS
Thanks to our amazing friends at Evergreen Lots, who have worked for a year to open a community gardening space, BK ROT is now gearing up to build larger, faster processing compost bins at 120 Jefferson St.
The bins will initially serve our new commercial compost pilot with a local bakery while El Garden is being developed.
The best part? Generating the much needed nutrient rich soil for the new garden in our neighborhood from local food waste! Hyper localizing in action!
Look out for more details as we build them out!
Local Reporter, Max Jaeger of the Ridgewood Times, wrote a feature about BK ROT last month. Read article below. To see the photos, check out the link:
Green Jobs For B’Wick Youth
Victor Ibarra, a junior at the Bushwick Campus High School, spends his Sunday afternoons collecting organic household waste for BK Rot, a composting program that employs local students.
Luis Rodriguez, a high school senior, adds grass and leaves to household waste to aid the decomposition process.The high school junior works weekends for BK Rot, an upstart that collects compostable household waste, turns it into nutrient-rich soil and distributes it to local urban gardens and community members.
On a freezing Sunday in December, Victor Ibarra, 17, is gearing up for a two-hour bicycle ride through Bushwick— and he isn’t doing it for his health.
The program, which started in August with 7 members, now serves about two dozen households inBushwick, Ridgewood, northern Bed-Stuy and East Williamsburg— all while employing local youth, according to founder Sandy Nurse.
Ibarra said he has been with the company since the beginning. He helped build the compost bins at BK Rot’s St. Nicholas Avenue headquarters and currently handles the bulk of Sunday collections.
Nurse said she got connected to Ibarra through the Bushwick Campus Farm’s summer food justice internship program and hired him because he lived nearby and was interested in carpentry.
“We’d do the runs together, pretty much for a month, and then he just took off on his own,” she said.
Ibarra said he gets a list of pickup locations each week before making his rounds. BK Rot members leave their compost in bright green bags in front of their apartments to make pickup easier, he said.
Back at the base, Nurse and Luis Rodriguez, a senior at the Bushwick Campus, add waste to the compost bins and mix it with leaves and other materials to aid the transformation from trash to fertilizer.
The site has three bins so far, and workers are in the process of building a fourth. Nurse said they’ll keep building as the bins fill, but BK Rot may soon seek a larger space. Currently the churches that share space 176 St. Nicholas Avenue let BK Rot use the building’s side yard for operations.
Lilly Belanter has used the service since the beginning.
Prior to becoming a member, she composted at home and carried food scraps to community gardens when she had the time.
“Which, as you can imagine, is a huge pain,” she said.
When she saw that BK Rot was seeking donations, she contributed and later became a member.
“It’s made my life so much easier,” she said.
She keeps her food scraps in a lidded receptacle provided by BK Rot. She puts the bin in her freezer to keep it from smelling.
She said her house actually smells better now that she is keeping organic waste out of her trash can. Composting also supports local agriculture and saves the city money on waste-hauling costs, she added.
Laura Rosenshine is another fan of the program. She said she is in the preliminary stages of starting a similar operation inManhattan.
Rosenshine, who works for food waste solutions firm Global Enviro, said she is considering partnering with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to duplicate Nurse’s business.
“I love Sandy’s model, because it builds relationships with the community and local gardens,” Rosenshine said. “Creating jobs for kids and connecting them to the environment—it’s all really good.”
And it all started with a simple idea and a little seed money.
Nurse came up with the plan earlier this year and fleshed it out with the help of the Bushwick Eco Action Network, a local environmental and food justice group.
She started BK Rot with $350 in donations raised through an online fund-raising tool.
The donations paid for two bikes, building materials and the first run of promotional fliers.
She said the BK Rot is intended to be self-sustaining, but needs a few more members. Nurse pays her workers $15 an hour. She volunteers her own time and said she’d like to generate enough revenue to pay a shift supervisor—ideally a local students—to do her job.
BK Rot’s membership fee is $45 for three-months. Users can also purchase a drop-off membership for $10 a month, which allows them to bring their waste to BK Rot’s site for deposit it in composting bins. IN addition, residents can pay $5 for a one-time drop-off, Nurse said.
All members get a small home collection bin and a bag of compost once it’s ready.
Nurse said she’ll distribute whatever is left of the yield to local community gardens.
BK ROT is happy to be starting compost drop-off at the Bushwick Abbey starting this Sunday, October 13th.
Date: Every Sunday 1-2:30pm
Where: 176 St. Nicholas Avenue
Cost: $5 per drop-off. Includes a voucher provided for a bag of finished compost per person.
BK ROT is a youth employment project that compensates youth for collecting compostable food scraps and maintaining compost sites. This is gross, smelly and yet really important work. Our project is completely self-sustaining, meaning we do not apply for funding, but do accept donations. We are experimenting with a model that can create value on the work that is necessary to maintain healthy compost piles. The $5 rate is to ensure our youth managing the drop-offs is compensated fairly for their time. Additionally, our pick-up project charges $10 per/month for a weekly pick-up of 3 gallon bags. With drop-off, we anticipate larger deposits that will need more attention.
Are there other benefits?
Yes! With your first drop-off – you will receive a voucher for one bag of finished compost soil. We want the local community to enjoy in what they have helped create.
We’re growing fast! Many participants live in west Bushwick, just across Flushing Avenue, and north Bed-Stuy. We’re excited to expand where our service is needed. We’re currently conducting pick-ups on the west side of Broadway. However, if you have passed by and thought you were too far out, send us a note and perhaps you’re just within reach!