New compost annex returns nutrients to vineyards and farms

San Francisco’s nationally acclaimed urban compost program has opened an annex that can handle food scraps and yard trimmings from local homes and restaurants, a program spokesman said.

The Organics Annex, located on Tunnel Avenue in Visitacion Valley, will accommodate the growth of the Food Scrap Compost Program, said Robert Reed, spokesman for the program.

“The annex was created to provide infrastructure to continue to grow the program. There’s 2,100 restaurants and 75,000 homes providing us food scraps and yard waste, but there could be even more,” Reed said.

About 90 percent of the compost is given to local vineyards. The rest goes to small farms and landscape supply yards.

“It’s a way for people in the city to return nutrients to farms. There aren’t a lot of opportunities like that,” Reed said. “People who work in kitchens — prep cooks, busboys — are now environmentalists. That’s a role reversal, because historically farmers have served cities.”

San Francisco’s garbage companies began the Food Scrap Compost Program in 1996 as a test program. It was formally adopted by the city in 2001, Reed said.

It has since become a model for similar programs throughout the country.

“A lot of people recycle bottles, cans and paper. This is really the next step,” Reed said.

San Francisco Recycling and Disposal, Inc., owns and operate the annex. Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling run the collection trucks, and Jepson Prairie Organics near Vacaville and South Valley Organics in Gilroy make the finished compost.

Bay City News

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