By: Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The town of Gananoque does not currently have a municipal composting program. One young entrepreneur is proposing to change that deficit.
Tikvah Mindorff is a Gananoque resident who would like to open up a composting business in partnership with the town.
“The program would run according to the same recycling schedule in town, and there would be a membership initiation fee, in order to provide a curbside green bin and smaller kitchen caddy and fridge magnet explaining what can and can’t go into the bins,” said Mindorff.
Right now the membership fee is in the $45 range. This would be a private business offering residents a service that could help the town divert as much as 43 per cent of its waste.
“Presenting to the Gananoque Green group was hopefully a good start; Tikvah did a wonderful job and was passionate about her idea. As this moves along I suspect steps need to be determined including what needs to happen next and who needs to do what,” said Coun. David Osmond, who along with Mayor Ted Lojko is generally supportive of the idea.
There has been some private discussion about whether the town would subsidize the program in return for an expected reduction in tipping fees, or whether simply to allow residents to choose the service on their own and gauge the interest through memberships.
Mindorff is planning to use a mechanical composting system as opposed to field composting.
“The machine is very expensive so I’m hoping to get an assurance from the town that we’ll have an exclusive five-year agreement for compost collection in town,” said Mindorff.
The type of machine that Mindorff and her partner Tyler Simpson are looking to use is an in-vessel composting system, not unlike the system that the University of British Columbia has installed at the university’s south campus, said Mindorff.
In-vessel composting refers to the breakdown of organic matter in a mechanized, fully enclosed vessel to produce useful nutrient-rich compost that can be used in gardens. The closed feature minimizes odours, while allowing a wider range of materials to be composted and can all be done indoors.
“We’ll be able to accept meat, dairy and fish, basically anything that was once alive can be composted,” said Mindorff.
The system this couple is eyeing is about one metre by five meters in size and can handle 2,200 pounds of compostable material per week. They’ve already calculated that they’ll need at least 550 households worth of compostable material to get off the ground.
“As for support, we need to continue the conversation, be open-minded and use a look for a ‘Yes’ approach. It’s easy to find reasons to say ‘No’ when looking for a ‘No.’ Tikvah is looking at a 2022 launch so that allows time to keep the conversations happening and manage expectations,” said Osmond.
The idea is that members, who pay into the initial start-up, would get a reduced price on the purchase of compost for their gardens and everyone else would be able to purchase the resulting compost at market value.
Mindorff will be making a presentation to council in March, and at that time will be looking for a formal partnership in the form of a memorandum of understanding, allowing them to pick up the compost in town for composting at their facility.
The idea for the business has been spurred by a desire for a more holistic way of life.
“The idea to run an agricultural/farm business stemmed initially from our mutual desire to live off grid. Composting fits really well with that idea and solves a big community-wide problem,” said Mindorff.