The Challenge


How might we better connect food production and consumption? read the brief


Compost Connector: City Blocks to Rural Blocks

Inspired by Selvan's post about Daily Dump (, after banana peel disposal came to mind when thinking about Anne's "Banana Boat".

Composting connects us full circle: The very beginning of the cycle of production to the very end, consumption.

Here is a great breakdown of composting:

The concept:
Compost containers could be provided by local grocery stores or by the farms themselves, upon purchase, for consumers.

Consumers can take home, fill with produce remains, then bring back in support for the farmer to enhance their soil. Some consumers would make the local trip to the grocery store and some may head out to the farm land.

The farm could have a marking/naming system for each 'block' of their land that gives a shout out to who provided nourishing compost to enhance soil of the farm land.
A shout out could be given and named by city neighborhood or by block (instead of individuals) to bring more of a community feel. Neighborhoods in the city make a joint effort in supporting and giving back to their fresh food source(s).

A shout out could be: (Similar to plant pot labeling of type of flower and it's family) Neighborhood/family name and contribution of compost by weight.

This connection can easily become seasonal interaction that supports a sustainable lifestyle.

Also could be a great way to study what type of compost mash ups benefit that particular farmer's land the most, and for what specific produce.

(The IMG used for this concept post is a screenshot of a scene from Daily Dump's video.)


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Krassimira Iordanova

April 17, 2011, 11:40AM
Hi Shaona, I created a concept some time ago around the same problem- me know what you think.


April 17, 2011, 14:10PM
Hi Krassimira,

Thanks for sharing! Great breakdown of information compiled. I noticed your build and update upon Johan and I's recent concepts. So many great ideas to join!

A few points-

1. (Selling in your concept title caught my attention) I feel it'd be a nice tribute to the farmers for the compost to be given, not sold, back to them. As a specific example, if a restaurant is purchasing produce in bulk from a farm, there is financial benefit for the farm. The restaurant will then be making profit from their costumers off the food they sell, which includes produce. Here I see the financial part of the business balancing out based on the income method of both industries.

Maybe the farmers instead increase their delivery quantity by a certain percentage based on how much food waste they've received, instead of the farms paying for the compost. The benefits of the produce itself speaks instead of

2. Sticking to the restaurant example you've pointed out: Using larger networks that are consuming food in masses is such a great target for collecting compost!

In my concept above, I was thinking more neighborhood-based. Still in mass but using collection as a way to strengthen and bringing together communities. There could be one area on the block where the compost containers are stacked if they are being picked up (Johan mentioned the garbage-like truck that comes by in a Swedish community- links you may have checked out below). This is a common way of garbage pick up for condominium communities in the States.

Or consumers can bring the compost back to the farmland they've received the produce from. The perk in my concept: Visually connection of city blocks and rural blocks. To see how much compost their community has provided in actual scale on farm land could be powerful. Again, a bond between the farm and person/family/community who has been supporting in more than one step of the production cycle.

Johan Löfström

April 17, 2011, 14:34PM
oh, i just recalled that local restaurants send their leftovers to pig farms. so their food waste is offsetting their cost on buying back pork from these farms. Just a reminder that organic waste does not have to go directly to compost. there is some better value somewhere else in the chain for some of it.


April 17, 2011, 14:59PM
Another great example of the product/process itself speaking, without finances involved.

Johan, your point about organic waste not even having to go through decomposition makes me think about the underlying influence of time being a huge factor with food in general. The mapping of time and effectiveness definitely puts a reality filter on both consumption and production of food, keeping agronomy in mind.

Selvan Thandapani

April 15, 2011, 01:43AM
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Selvan Thandapani

April 15, 2011, 01:48AM
Very cool idea and i think involving farmers and grocery stores makes it holistic.


April 15, 2011, 02:19AM
Thanks for the source of inspiration Selvan! Such a great reference for anyone looking further into almost anything and everything composting. The feasibility filter of HCD methodology is addressed by Daily Dump through the clarity of information on the site, winning the confidence and trust of readers who are preparing for a transitional period in their lifestyle.

Meena Kadri

April 14, 2011, 21:51PM
Having met the founder of Daily Dump, I wish I had her email address so I could tell her how many time she's inspired myself and others over here at OpenIDEO. She'd be fine about your use of the video – especially given you've attributed it. She's a big Creative Commons fan – as well as a all-round winner.


April 14, 2011, 21:59PM
Truly inspiring! The information on the Daily Dump site is so simply broken down and easy to understand. Very helpful when the full process is shown visually, with supporting copy.

I love the attention to detail in the compost containers painted various colors. Little details like that make a huge difference. The idea of transportable containers of my concept may not have even come to mind if color didn't further grab my attention!

Peter Nixon

April 14, 2011, 10:25AM
The addition of the concerted community is great. I think the competitive element would work very well.

The idea of composting completing the cycle of production and consumption is so important, and this is a fantastic way of introducing the concept into urban life. I also really like the idea of making the trip out into the farmland to deliver the compost, as this would really reconnect urban and rural.


April 14, 2011, 21:30PM
Thanks Peter. The owning of composts isn't unheard of when it comes to city living. Agreed the introduction of compost containers in local markets would help further address the benefits.

Are you referring to the naming recognition of blocks in the farm itself as competitive? If so, I didn't see it this way til now. There could be a point system per neighborhood. More compost, more points. This calls for communication of awareness within communities. The point system could become an incentive for discounted purchases of produce after a certain number of points are achieved.

Johan Löfström

April 14, 2011, 09:16AM
There is a big compost project built up in my city, here in Sweden. They have combined several features that assist each other in reaching profitability and adaptence from 90-95% of the residents.

In the process of mulching and composting our food waste (that is collected exactly in same manner as conventional garbage trucks) they collect almost all methane gas and gets some excess heat out as a bonus from the process. And of course local soil of great quality that we can buy back.

I guess the large scale is needed to get the profits. Composting in small scale in the back gardens only emit methane gas and it takes a lot of work to gain good soil from it.


April 14, 2011, 09:31AM
Hey Johan. Much, much thanks on the info. What is the project called? Has it recently taken off? 90-95% of resident involvement is impressive.

The way a traditional garbage truck collects could be a great way for farmers to meet consumers half way in the exchange process. Addressing environmental effects in gas form was big when looking into this concept.

Large scale, in the form of combining small scale movements, is definitely needed to have a progressive impact.

Johan Löfström

April 14, 2011, 09:57AM (swedish) (same link auto-translated) (english pdf)

i guess the project started in 2006 or 7?
(sadly most info on their web page is 1-3 years old)
They started using a mechanical process for grinding and mulching, but have since constructed a plant that is more a biological process with much less equipment needed, right now it is 30 tonnes daily, (from approx 95.000 citizens and some restaurants). One year ago 35% of this transformation was done biologically and energyefficient in sealed tanks, to capture the valuable waste gases. The goal is to do the whole process of all 30 tonnes in sealed tanks very soon.

For collection, we get free paper-bags with printed info on it on what is allowed to put in it. The paper makes the food waste dry up a little and reduces any eventual odours.

The city-owned garbage-company uses same type of garbage bins (brown/khaki colour, to differentiate from green normal trash bins) and same type of garbage-trucks, but collection routes not on same days as normal garbage-collection. Garbage trucks are supposed to within a year to run on only bio-gas-fuel, completely from their own compost-process :D

Krassimira Iordanova

April 17, 2011, 11:45AM
Johan, such a wonderful project....thanks for sharing with the community. Do you know what % of the population actually does this? I posted an idea some time ago-
Please let me know your thoughts.....Thanks!!!

Johan Löfström

April 17, 2011, 13:20PM
80 000 citizens (out of approx 95 000) got their food waste picked up weekly, separately from the normal trash in 2010. ( the last 15 000 is assumed to have a compost in their garden )

In 2010 it was 9 670 tonnes organic waste collected. (there is only 1,7% of material in the whole compost system that is not organic waste, people who sort at home are really informed and does it well)

Citizens buy back at least 1 700 tonnes of soil each year at a discounted price. (rest of the soil is sold to local Plant nurseries, Farmers and to the Parks department for improving flower beds and so on)

And in normal garbage it is now less than 40% of material that could have been recycled in another way. But most of garbage are incinerated to generate heat and electricity to peoples homes. So a huge reduction of dependency on coal, oil and nuclear power.

Total costs for handling and managing our garbage decrease at least 100 000 euro per year for the city thanks to recycling. (but they also invest in new equipment and promotions for almost 1 million euro per year, so the help from recycling and awareness can be assumed to be more than 1 million per year)

In sweden 80% of all newspapers, magazines and catalogues are recycled. 52 kilograms per person and year.

each kilogram of hard plastic being recycled reduces the need for 2 kilograms of carbon emissions, if you compare to produce new plastic.

recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy needed compared to producing new aluminium.


April 17, 2011, 14:27PM
Wow, Johan! THANK YOU MUCH for ALL the information. 80,000 people (as you mentioned 90-95% of citizens) hits even harder when seeing numbers of how big the movement is. I recently read about your gradual lifestyle change (link of Johan's bio: Really commendable and inspiring. Point well made about all the benefits of a computer, in keeping that as a reliable/efficient electronic asset.

Johan Löfström

April 17, 2011, 14:38PM
Thank you very much *taking a bow* you should check out my other concepts, I hope you can add some inspiration or details to :
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