Dover Coast residents composting diverts 20 tons from landfill

The committee members in front of the Dover Coast Garden sign, left to right: Ann Meuris, Molly Edwards, Susan Cornish, Elaine Anderson, Pat Mercuri, Gillian Miller. Missing from the photo are Bill Parkes and Ed Tremain.

By Sue Graci

DOVER Coast is an active retirement living community. People come from all parts of the province to retire in our friendly, clean, active town.

Some people come to relax and take life easy while others throw themselves into their new surroundings with vigor.

“We were all looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of larger communities. The love for the lake to be close at hand and the opportunity to have a more relaxing lifestyle in a small-town community,” said Elaine Anderson.

She is part of a group of like-minded residents that have banded together and formed the volunteer Greening our Community (GOC) committee. They have implemented a successful composting program within Dover Coast.

The Maple Leaf caught up with Elaine recently to learn about what they’ve been up to in recent months. Started by resident Wendy Cooper, the GOC committee has eight members, and they meet once a month to brainstorm and “discuss ideas on what initiatives we could do to save the landfill and green our community,” Elaine said.

They have a passion to make a difference in the town and felt a good start would be “saving our compost to take the burden off of the landfill, essentially to extend the life of the current landfill. So, we initially started out with the “green bin” project but have several other initiatives that our group has been working on.”

The group would like to see a green cart program started and “prior to engaging the farmer, our team created and sent a proposal to Norfolk council regarding creating a green bin program. A few of us from the committee met with the county council and shared our proposal,” Elaine shared.

“Amy Martin set up the meeting and invited others to join including Merissa Bolka, Jason Godby and Larry Conrad. The council was very interested in our initiatives that we had proposed but they shared some limitations,” she added.



“We learned that Norfolk County did not have room in the budget to start up the green bin program, that there were very few companies that would receive the green bins and manage the contents, and they are very expensive so Norfolk County could not compete with the other cities RFPs,” Elaine said.

Their committee learned Norfolk’s low population density works against a green bin program but believed the county was still committed to working on a green bin program.

And then the pandemic hit and, like so many other initiatives, everything ground to a half.

With many on the committee familiar with green bin programs from other communities, they decided another solution had to be found.

Elaine said, “we would like to start this project with Dover Coast being a test pilot site and when the council sees the benefits of what we can accomplish with a small community of 200 homes, we would love to see it expand to the whole of Port Dover.”

Dover Coast residents have initiated their own green cart program that has diverted 20,000 pounds of kitchen waste to a local farmer. Photo by Earl Hartlen

In the meantime, a Dover Coast resident found a farmer interested in receiving table scraps to help feed their animals.

This seemed a good fit.

“I heard of this and brought it to the group, and we considered if we could engage our residents in Dover Coast to do this. We ran a survey to find out everyone’s interest,” Elaine explained.

“As we live in a condo setting, as per the rules of the board, we are not able to do self-composting in our backyards. We had a great response to our survey, so we approached the local farmer and asked if they were interested in receiving our ‘kitchen scraps’.”

The farmer was willing to work with the Dover Coast group. “This helped provide them extra feed for their livestock and it allowed the residents to feel good about not putting these kitchen scraps into the garbage,” Elaine said.

“We worked with the farmer to identify items they did not want in the scraps for the animal feed. From our team, we set up homes where we allow the residents to place their bagged kitchen scraps into bins in our driveways. We then take the scraps over to the farmer at the end of the collection times,” Elaine explained.

Deliveries from the committed team members to the farm happen Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

“No fee is received, we give it to the farmer. So, the residents get the self-satisfaction that they are helping a local farmer and not adding this to the landfill,” Elaine told us.

Once the program had started, the committee provided tips and updates on the composting program.

Elaine estimated that approximately half the Dover Coast community is participating in this program and the collections have been substantial.

For a year the contents of the bins was weighed with a total of 20,000 pounds collected!

As Elaine said, that is equal to “10 tons of waste that did not go to our landfill! And this is just from one small community…we were pleasantly surprised as to the amount. Can you imagine if everyone in Norfolk County participated!”

Backyard composting, recycling, and finding a way to use those kitchen scraps – these are actions we can all take. And the Dover Coast community has a great model on how it can be done!

 

Originally published October 20, 2021

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