Composting Guidelines

The City of Chicago recently adopted a new ordinance for composting. Material coming from the garden can be composted in open bins, like the cinder block bins that we have been using. But materials coming from off-site, like kitchen scraps, must be composted in enclosed bins, to deter rodents.

In 2017, Dan Lee built us two large, beautiful enclosed compost bins (thank you, Dan!). They are located along the alley on the west side of the west garden and are ready to go.

Here are the procedures for using the new bins:

  • The enclosed bins are primarily for kitchen scraps. Acceptable kitchen scraps include: fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, etc.

  • Do NOT put in any food scraps with oil, dairy, meat or fish.

  • New kitchen scraps should be put in the left-side bin(as you are facing the bins). Use the strap to lift the lid, and dump your scraps through the top. (If you open the front doors of the bins, you'll end up with decomposing compost all over your shoes! I don't recommend it.)

  • Cover your scraps with a layer of dry leaves or shredded newspaper from the metal garbage can near the enclosed bin.

  • Please continue to put plant material from your plot into the open compost bins, not the enclosed bins. Chop up materials in small pieces and add them to the first bin on the left. Remember to put diseased plants and bind weed into the trash, not the compost.

If you see someone dropping off kitchen scraps in an open bin, please let them know about the new enclosed bins on the west side and explain how to use them. We have a few neighbors who drop off kitchen scraps that aren't garden members and won't receive this email.

East side gardeners, we haven't forgotten you! If the enclosed bins work well, we'll build a second set for the east side. Until then, please take your kitchen scraps to the west side bins.

If you have questions or comments, please contact us at