Cook Out and Compost on Governors Island!

With Fourth of July barbecues on the horizon, Earth Matter NY is working hard to get the dirt on compost out to as many summer revelers as possible. Earth Matter is dedicated to advancing the practice of composting in and around New York City, with the mission to improve soil health and reduce the amount of organic waste entering the garbage stream and sewage system. From Saturday July 7th through Sunday the 8th, the non-profit will have stations set up for the Governors Island Cook Out NYC event, a weekend of craft beers, spicy kimchi eating contests, sustainable meat grilling, and live music.

Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center is on Governors Island, allowing it to be a part of many of the events that happen there (like the recent Jazz Age Lawn Party!). Kristen Bonardi Rapp, a Brooklyn-based writer who serves as the organization’s programming coordinator, describes Earth Matter’s role at these events as twofold: both practical and educational. “We distribute a lot of general info about composting, like which Greenmarkets accept food scraps, how to store food scraps until you can drop them off, et cetera.” Earth Matter’s educational initiatives on Governors Island and elsewhere encourage people to compost their food waste themselves, and provide them with the skills to do so. The Learning Center supplies everything from workshops to literature on composting, and offers a variety of approaches to composting to accommodate varying comfort levels and living situations. This means everything from technical info on how to start a backyard bin or an indoor worm bin, to community composting opportunities for those waste-conscious folks who aren’t able to make it happen in their own homes. Encountering composting through a community event such as Cook Out NY makes the idea of decomposing food waste much more palatable for many city residents who aren’t used to thinking past the trash disposal.

With more than 20 grilling stations, rooftop garden salads from the Brooklyn Grange, a hot dog competition, and celebrity chef demos, Cook Out NYC is the ideal event for a hands-on demonstration of the value of composting. Kristen says, “We collect the food waste from these events, which, for something like Cook Out NYC, is quite a bit, as you can imagine. We take these food scraps (along with the food from our other collection stations throughout the island), and bring them back to the center — and we recycle the food scraps by feeding them to our chickens and goats!” Cook Out NYC promises to be a wild and delicious weekend, and one that will involve tons of new people in the composting process! Earth Matter is still looking for volunteers to collect food waste at the separation stations, answer composting questions, and perhaps even supervise the chickens – volunteers receive FREE ENTRY to the Cook Out in exchange for a two-hour shift. And in addition to the Cook Out, Earth Matter NY will be seeking volunteers for its City of Water Day event and numerous compost bin-building workshops in July. Check out Earth Matter’s postings on GetDirtyNYC, as well as its calendar.


Sara Blazevic

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