With composting site, community organization wants to make composting the norm


Compost Alex’s handmade compost site sits at Four Mile Run Park Plaza. Four Mile Run is also home to one of Alexandria’s four farmer’s markets; the city has started a free, compost drop-off program at each of those sites.

As the program’s popularity grew, city employee Joshua Etim created Compost Alex, originally a Facebook page: a soundboard for bouncing off information and composting tips.

Composting is the process of recycling food scraps and other organic materials, later used as a rich soil for gardening.

“You turn your banana peel into some type of soil that your local community can use. If your banana peel went in the trash and to a local landfill, you don’t farm a landfill,” said Etim.

In 2017, Etim and Compost Alex partnered with the city’s RPCA to build a demonstration site to show community members how composting works, especially in an urban environment. The compost site was constructed in late 2018.

The compost site was made possible by fundraising and a match from the RPCA.

Etim says many worry about the potential for smell and rodents. “If composting is done properly, it shouldn’t smell — other than the smell of earth,” said Etim. The Four Mile Run site smells like wet hay, not trash. Etim also says the compost site is made of sturdy materials, including hardware cloth (high-grade chicken wire) and straw to protect the compost.

Etim says Compost Alex will start building its second composting site next month.

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