Free Compost For Chicago-area Gardeners
Did you know that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is giving away high-quality compost? Maybe you did, but I sure didn’t. The compost is made from wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, and biosolids derived from water reclamation.
In case that sounds icky to you, have no fear. These organic materials are composted at a temperature high enough to kill all pathogens. Compost from MWRD has been used for over 20 years at parks, schools, golf courses, and athletic fields.
The District will even deliver compost to you – if you order 10 cubic yards or more. That’s a heck of a lot of compost for a home garden, so instead I’ll be driving to the nearest water treatment facility with buckets and a shovel stowed in my trunk. Gardeners can take away as many containers full of compost as they care to fill.
I do make my own compost, but it’s never enough, and so I always end up buying bagged compost from some garden center. This makes me feel bad as the bags contribute to the plastic waste problem, plus they can be somewhat expensive.
Evanston, the suburb adjoining Chicago where I live, used to make its own compost at a nearby park. You could take buckets of the stuff away with you for free. However, the operation shut down after complaints about the smell – an entirely imaginary smell, in my opinion. So the MWRD is making up for my own town’s foolish decision. I only wish I had known years ago.
You’re probably aware of this, but just in case, I should point out that compost makes an excellent mulch and soil amendment. It improves the soil structure and adds organic matter.
Giving away compost makes loads of sense. Gardeners get an affordable and environmentally-friendly soil amendment, and MWRD (along with local governments) gets help with waste disposal.
I might need to buy some more buckets, though.