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Imagine Grinnell Announces Plate to Plant Community Compost Initiative

Plans to Run Curbside Pickup Service Starting August 15, 2020

Grinnell, IA — Following Imagine Grinnell’s mission to create healthier people and a healthier environment in Grinnell, the local nonprofit has set out to support a new initiative: Plate to Plant. This community compost initiative aims to reduce the city’s landfill waste while simultaneously creating nutrient-rich soil. Bella Kugel, a recent Grinnell College graduate, is launching a pilot program on August 15 to identify the best approach to meet this goal.

“Our pilot program will offer 15–20 participants the opportunity to curbside compost, so each week, for five weeks, participants fill a provided enclosed bucket with compost matter and the Plate to Plant team will pick it up within a given timeframe, much like the garbage pickup,” says Kugel. “We’ll replace the filled bucket with a new, clean bucket and drop the compostable matter into three different types of backyard composters located at Marvin Garden.” 

Kugel elaborates that the pilot program will help to identify the best approach to make it easy for Grinnellians to compost while also testing out backyard composting options for the organization to offer in the future. They will test compost matter within a continuous flow-through worm bin, a heat tower with auger mixing and a classic three-bin system.

“We’ll provide instructions for the kinds of food waste and materials that can be put into the buckets, as well as publicize program updates and information throughout” says Sage Kaplan-Goland, another 2020 Grinnell College grad collaborating on the project. “This will help ensure that the soil will not become contaminated and the backyard bins will not attract vermin or output any sort of unpleasant odors.”  

In addition to managing the curbside service and monitoring the compost bin matter, the Plate to Plant team also plans to reduce its carbon footprint by picking up and dropping off bins using a bicycle with an attached heavy-duty trailer.

“Bella and Sage have shown insight, passion and brains in their planning and design of a viable small group composting service. Running the curbside service with bike pickups fits perfectly with our mission,” says Tim Ellsworth, Imagine Grinnell Co-President. “With the proper resources and interest, this initiative has the potential to change our community’s waste stream habits – which could lower our city’s expenditures on waste removal and also offer nutrient-rich soil for our community gardens, landscapers, and any others who have a need for good soil. Job creation and the possible expansion of a successful bike composting service to other towns are great side benefits. We’d also like to give a big thanks to Craig Cooper at Bikes To You, and Richie Berman at Sam Berman & Sons for their generous support!”

Participants can join the pilot program for $10 per week, but the group hopes to reduce this cost for future services once more resources and efficiencies can be identified. Interested parties may visit to learn more or to donate.

Imagine Grinnell began in 1985 with the dreams of a few community members as they envisioned life in the year 2000. The non-profit was originally named Grinnell 2000 and in 2001, the board changed the name to Imagine Grinnell. The mission of Imagine Grinnell is to turn imagination into action to create a more vibrant, sustainable and healthy Grinnell. With successful projects including the Farmer’s Market, a volunteer-run recycling facility, tree planting, solar energy initiatives, Grinnell Giving Gardens, addressing food insecurity, the Grinnell Area Recreation Trail, state-of-the-art permanent Skate/BMX park and the latest Prairie Burn 100 gravel bike ride, Imagine Grinnell continues to be a link between the community and ideas. Visit for more information or to make a donation to this important community nonprofit.

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