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Sustainability Spotlight: Education, Community, and Environmental Stewardship at Long Beach Community Compost

Release Date: 2022-01-11

Long Beach Community Compost is a self-organizing group of individuals whose primary mission is to turn residents’ food waste and yard debris into steamy, glorious compost. In partnership with the Office of Sustainability, their composting hub is located on the west side of the Native Restoration Area in Willow Springs Park. Long Beach Community Compost has organized since 2019 and has had its headquarters at Willow Springs since October 2020.  

Residents drop off their food scraps at Willow Springs Park, where the scraps are then weighed and distributed across the 10 active compost piles at the hub. The piles are maintained weekly by a group of volunteers who assist in breaking up the scraps, turning the piles, and maintaining the moisture levels. On average, the team receives approximately 1000 pounds of food scraps a week. 

Organic materials like fruits, vegetables, and yard debris decompose with the help of oxygen, water, and microorganisms. The resulting material is called “finished compost” or “humus,” an important component of healthy soil. Humus that results from composting adds nutrients to the soil that can increase the health of plants and help eliminate the need for synthetic, chemical fertilizers.  

Creating compost out of organic waste is beneficial to the environment in several ways. Not only does compost add nutrients and introduce valuable organisms to the soil, but it diverts waste from the landfill, enhances water retention in soils, and provides carbon sequestration.  

According to Kirk Kunihiro, a member of Long Beach Community Compost with a background in waste management, the organization has three main goals: building community, improving environmental conditions, and spreading awareness and knowledge to residents. “Each drop-off day also functions as a free workshop. Those who come to volunteer not only help with the manual labor part of creating compost, but they learn about the process, the microorganisms, and the nutrient-dense soil they create,” Kunihiro beamed.  

Community serves as a major driver of Long Beach Community Compost’s vision. “People bring their children, their friends, their neighbors...it’s a really tight knit community," Kunihiro said, “Our community reflects the diversity of Long Beach.” Each Friday, there are consistently six to seven volunteers at a time. When at the compost hub, one can feel this deep sense of community and closeness; there are people joking, laughing, smiling, and sharing stories with one another. The energy is lively and contagious.   

Long Beach Community Compost hopes to expand its operations and create additional community-based and educational composting hubs throughout the region. They aim to increase the availability of food scrap collection and compost exponentially, so all residents have an opportunity to learn and benefit from the availability of rich, nutrient-dense soil.  

Long Beach residents can drop their food scraps off at Willow Springs Park at 2714 California Avenue every Friday from 8-9:30am, Sundays from 10-11:30am, or Fridays at the Downtown Long Beach Farmers Market from 11-1pm.  

For more information, email kirk@lbcommunitycompost.org or follow Long Beach Community Compost on Instagram at @lbcommunitycompost.