Monday, June 29, 2009

Save the free mulch

As I've mentioned several times before, the Holly Hills Improvement Association operates a community garden at the corner of Bates and Arendes. Gateway Greening is the community outreach arm of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. They were instrumental in getting us started and established. Here's a note from our neighborhood greening coordinator:

Dear Garden Leaders,

It has come to my attention that the City of St. Louis is considering a change in the Forestry Division. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry includes these three Divisions. The Forestry Division includes the Compost Section. The Compost Section takes the yard waste generated by St. Louisians and the Forestry Division and recycles it for use as compost and mulch, which is available free of charge to city residents. According to the website, they deliver 9,800 cubic yards of compost to community pick-up and garden sites each year. We work with community gardens to facilitate these deliveries. They fill the bins located at Bell Garden; Chippewa and Oregon; Lee and Euclid; 9th and Barton; and on Geyer. This change would contract the services currently provided by the Compost Section to a private company. We are told that it would most likely mean the end of provision of compost and mulch.
In order to preserve what we have been fortunate to receive, we need to make a strong statement about the importance of this complimentary service to City residents, it’s community gardens and the beautification of the City throughout its 79 neighborhoods. If you value this service, please contact your Alderperson and let them know how important it is in order to accomplish the elaborate gardens found on formerly vacant, trash-filled lots; the medians popping with blooms on City avenues, the schoolyards bursting with flavor. They can contact the appropriate City officials involved in the decision-making process. The matter is URGENT as they plan to make a decision by July 1st. That is less than 1 week from today!

Attached is a list of Alderpersons and their contact information. They can also be reached at City Hall:

City Hall, Room 2301200 Market StreetSt. Louis, MO 63103(314) 622-4114

I am in touch with the City in order keep updated on the situation. I aim to find out who the best party to approach is so that we can stage a letter-writing campaign. Please let me know if you have any questions and we appreciate any support you can provide.

***If you do not live or work gardens in the City, please disregard this message.

Now, the question I have is: will the Forestry Dept. no longer deliver compost and mulch to garden sites, or will they completely discontinue the free pickups at places like Carondelet Park? I've placed a call with GG to get clarification. I know many don't like the site and infrequent, yet pungent odor of the compost piles. Personally, I find it was less offensive than the sight and smell of the Burger King immediately to the south of the compost piles.

Seriously though, this has been a great service offered by the city. Please contact your alderperson if you'd like to see this service continued.


  1. Thanks for making me aware of this issue. This is sad news. We are living in a city that is quickly becoming unlivable.

  2. This would be a great forward thinking service gone the way of privatization. It's understandable that cities are strapped for cash these days. However, composting and greening an area are part of the overall change that is knocking on the door of American society.

    Those who advocate private solutions to economic dysfunctions also usually subscribe to the role of philanthropy. Groups like GC and neighborhood organizations are philanthropic in action. If the composting operation goes to a private company then part of the deal with city government should be for the company to "voluntarily" sustain the community groups. That's how a business can give back and work with a community instead of just working it for cash like the Burger King.
    Lastly, I think more communities like St. Louis County should be going green and offering composting collection points. I think even a small fee is reasonable for residents to pick up mulch and compost.