Composting program aims to reduce waste

Polly Triplat turning the compost while Slow Food Lake Tahoe president Andrea Schaffer looks on. | Priya Hutner

A group of us are seated on a bench in a beautiful garden amid rows and rows of green lettuce, kale and basil plants at Truckee Demonstration Garden in Truckee River Regional Park. A variety of bees buzz in and out of purple flowering plants. Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” reverberates in the distance from the band playing at Music in the Park. Nearby, wooden bins hold the secret to reducing waste.

Drop Off locations
Truckee Demonstration Garden | Until the end of October
Truckee Sunday Farmers Market | Until Sept. 29, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Truckee Town Hall | Year-round

Waste is a huge problem around the world. Leftovers and food that’s gone bad fill up home garbage cans and landfills. Rotting food waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas, and composting is one way to reduce garbage. To learn about composting, I recently attended a workshop hosted by Slow Food Lake Tahoe with local composting expert Polly Triplat.

Triplat, a former board member of Slow Food Lake Tahoe, shared her passion for giving back, reducing waste and creating compost that feeds and nourishes her gardens and houseplants.

Composting tips

  • Accepted items are vegetables, fruit, eggshells, plant materials, coffee & tea grounds
  • Use any container with a lid to collect items
  • Keep the container in the kitchen for easy use
  • Drop off scraps once or twice a week
  • Freeze compost if you can’t drop off weekly

“I was the garden manager here for a couple of years when Project MANA was the organization that managed the garden. I want to be part of the garden and Slow Food and give back. I have some wisdom about composting that I’ve acquired over the years,” she says.

For many composting is a way to reduce waste, for others it is a way to enhance gardens.

As we listened to Triplat, a woman and two children walked by with a bag full of food scraps. Triplat seized the opportunity to educate the group. We gathered around the bins and peered in.

Triplat picked up a metal tool and started prodding at the materials in the bin. There were a number of bins each serving a purpose. The first bin had a sign with an arrow, which directed people where to drop the food scraps, another bin held dry straw material and the last bin held the materials that break down into compost. Eventually, worms will begin to breakdown the materials and create compost.

The compost bins at Truckee Demonstration Garden. | Priya Hutner

Composting program

To help locals composting in the Tahoe Sierra, a new composting program was recently launched by the Town of Truckee, Keep Truckee Green and Slow Food Lake Tahoe.

“The program offers three ways to compost. The first is to come to the garden with your compost and put it in the bin over there,” says Slow Food Lake Tahoe president Andrea Schaffer, pointing to the large wooden bins filled with scraps of food and straw at the Truckee Demonstration Garden. The garden will accept compost until the end of October when it closes, weather permitting.

“The second thing you can do is use the drop-off location at the Truckee Community Farmers Market on Sundays [12047 Donner Pass Road] until Sept. 29. We also have a booth where you can get free composting bins while they last. Keep Truckee Green also has bins. The third way is to drop off materials in the bin with a green lid that looks like a recycling bin behind town hall near the airport. They will be accepting compost year-round.”

What to compost

For collecting scraps at home, Triplat suggests using a plastic bin with a lid. The Truckee program is accepting vegetables, fruit, eggshells, plant materials, coffee and tea grounds. Do not put in bread, bones, meat, dairy, seafood, fats, pet feces or kitty litter, plastic, compostable cutlery, compostable bags or containers, tissues or paper towels, cardboard or anything sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

The scraps should be dropped off once or twice a week at one of the locations, and scraps can be frozen if it’s not possible to drop off that frequently. | slowfoodlaketahoe.org