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University City District will be encouraging neighborhood composting through The Dirt Factory

Composting in University City is catching on. In just a couple weeks, the University City District (UCD) will be opening The Dirt Factory composting facility at 43rd and Market, a partnership between UCD and the Pedal Coop, a bicycle-powered disposal service that serves West (like Plotland at 44th and Locust) and South Philly (like Mercy Edible Park) and Center City.

The Dirt Factory represents the most permanent composting facility the Pedal Coop’s ever had, according to Seth Budick, the manager of policy and research at UCD, who says the cooperative is currently forced to compost at community gardens and other short-lived sites, which quickly hit capacity, forcing the disposers to find other sites. The facility will also have limited hours when other University City residents can use it.

"Our hope is that this facility will have sufficient capacity to allow (Pedal Coop) to expand their collection, increasing the number of residents and businesses that are able to compost," says Budick. This will enable Pedal Coop to handle large university functions at UPenn, Drexel, USciences, and other institutions.

West Philly businesses seem excited about the large-scale local composting option, whether or not they contract to the Pedal Coop. Budick says that Pedal Coop clients Metropolitan and Four Worlds Bakeries, both of which serve bread in West Philly, are especially thrilled about The Dirt Factory. Along with that, he adds that an increasing number of local businesses, affiliated and unaffiliated with the Coop, are asking how they can compost at 43rd and Market. 

The Dirt Factory will also have limited hours when University City businesses, non-profits, and residents can compost.

"We hope to begin by opening the site once a week for drop-offs of small quantities of compostables," says Budick. Eventually, the space could open to the public more if the need exists.

The UCD is also planning compost, food, and sustainability workshops for the summer months to be held on-site, says Budick, who promises more details will be announced soon.  Also, the site will have smaller composting classrooms where members of the community can learn techniques for composting at home. Additionally, the Walnut Hill Farm recently planted fruits and vegetables at The Factory using neighborhood compost. 

Other partners in the composting effort include the owners of the property at 4308 Market St. who offered up the parcel, and the University of Pennsylvania, which sold its used "Earth Tub" composting machines at a greatly reduced rate. The public grand opening for the Dirt Factory will be on June 20, and will feature complimentary refreshments by Four Worlds, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and Dock St. Brewing Company.  

Source: Seth Budick, University City District
Writer: Andy Sharpe
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