I've been cultivating relationships with people and businesses to add to compost here. I don't make special trips for any of my inputs. I look close by, and on the routes of normal travel I'm already doing. Sometimes if I get an early heads up, or I know schedules, I can plan my routes/pickups around that info.
First, each Fall I gather hundreds of large paper bagged leaves. That forms the backbone of my "browns".
Every week I pick up an average of about 1500 eggshells (roughly 8 cases of 15 dozen) from a local bakery. I dry, crush, and powder them here onsite.
I get lots of spent cracked grain from a local brewer. NOTE: If you live near people, the spent grains are so rich they start to hot compost in a day and will smell off very quickly. COVER them with something to mediate the smell.
My coffee source ran dry. I'm looking for another. I used to get an average of 30-40 gallons every week (two locations). That ran dry. Not even the local stores from a certain nationally known coffee chain known for saving spent grounds for people will save the grounds near here. We get a little from Ms UrbanWild's office...maybe a gallon container or less depending on the week. I'll take what I can get as I don't even drink coffee.
I get spent tea fixings (tea, hibiscus, mint, etc) and SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast) from a small local kombucha manufacturer. SCOBY is like worm crack. Seriously, they mass up around it like me on cookies! I pass on the high oil hops. After a couple of years worth of experimenting, it isn't worth the trouble. Worms don't like it and I have limited space. If I had acreage, I'd dedicate one section to the long-term breakdown of hops and just walk away. It will be years and not much helps it along. NYC has a ton of kombucha makers.
I add alfalfa to beds...meal, pellets, or blocks depending on what is on sale.
I'd love to be able to harvest my own seaweed but I'm landlocked.
I'd love to be able to purchase biochar powdered and maybe just small chunks but can't get it here.
I also can't find crushed basalt (dust) which I'd like to have as well.
Given herbicides in straw passing through mammals and even making it through the compost stage and killing garden plants, I have yet to find a local source of safe manure. The search is still on.
Anyway, talk to enough people...and get known as the local composting weirdo... and sometimes you find new sources and new materials. 99 times out of 100 I don't get answers to emails I send looking for materials. Additionally, even phone calls don't pan out often. However, all types of contacts work...and you just need a few. I contacted a local smoothie shop thinking I could get the leftover fruit and veg screenings. It turns out their smoothies were all about powders and supplements and they processed zero fresh fruits and vegetables. Who knew?
On the fertilizer side, have you heard about EcoScraps?
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