Sign up for Free Educational Composting Gatherings! Two Dates. Two Places. November 4 and November 11

Please join us for this free education series- Composting in Public Spaces: Sharing What We’ve Learned!

NeighborSpace garden leaders and stakeholders, in partnership with Hills Brothers Coffee, are hosting two free hands-on community composting education days. Community gardeners and community composters are invited to join us by registering for this free event. Free coffee, breakfast snacks, and lunch will be provided!

If you have questions, please contact Julie Peterson at the following email-

NOTE: if you previously registered for Oct 21, that event was rescheduled to November 4th. We hope you are able to re-register for one of the two other dates”

Northside Workshop
Nov 4, 9:30 to 3:00
Waters Elementary School
4540 N Campbell Ave
Chicago, IL 60625


Southside Workshop
Nov 11, 9:30 to 3:00
Montessori School of Englewood
6936 S Hermitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60636

Community and school gardens are public gathering spaces where multiple people participate in various ways. Composting systems in these spaces have to be managed thoughtfully and creatively to be successful. Join us for this very special gathering, where compost education leaders host a fun, hands-on, day-long workshops to share what they’ve learned along the way.

Panelists and Presenters include- Nance Klehm, Breanne Heath, Pete Leki, Julie Peterson, Yessica Berrara, and more. Check back here for updates of presenters and presentations. Please see schedule of the day below-


Schedule for Day-

9:30- Coffee Under the Oaks

10:00-10:35 – Morning Gathering / Panel Discussion

Join in a welcome from hosts Pete Leki, Julie Peterson, and Yesica Barrera and a lively panel discussion of challenges and opportunities in the community composting realm. Plus a quick orientation of the day, bathrooms, etc.

Track One –


11:45-12:40 Session B

12:40-1:15 lunch and break to explore*

1:20-2:15 Session C

Track Two –

10:45-11:40 Session B

11:45-12:40 Session C

12:40-1:15 lunch and break to explore

1:20-2:15 Session A

Track Three

10:45-11:40 Session C

11:45-12:40 Session A

12:40-1:15 lunch and break to explore

1:20-2:15 Session B

2:15-3:00 Join in for tours of Waters native gardens, school and community gardens, composting bins, fire circle, stormwater management including rain barrels and wetland swale, and more!

Lunch at Waters Elementary will be wood fired pizza made right in the garden, in the outdoor pizza oven!

Description of Sessions-

Workshop A-

Composting Program Policy: Best and Most Difficult Practices

This discussion will begin by examining a wide variety of signs, evidence of vastly differing composting program policies.  Many stories will be shared as guides to success and warnings of trouble.  Signage takes on a new dimension for composting programs as a result of the new Chicago City Composting Ordinance. This session will provide the information a composting program leader needs to know and give opportunity to discuss the subtleties of various composting situations. Designs for signs will be provided.

Workshop B-

Build the Bin, Build the Pile, Build the Compost!

Work with a Team to Build a 5 ft by 5 ft by 3 ft Bin Robust Compost Bin for Your Public Space

In this hands-on workshop, participants will be guided through the process of building a frame for a compost bin, lid and bottom included. Pre-cut materials allow for quick assembly but thorough understanding of the build process. They will also help attach ¼ inch hardware cloth all around the bin to rat proof the bin, and simultaneously keep the air moving. Finally, participants will work with materials to build the pile, and learn special chopping methods and techniques that help in turning waste into the soil  you want for your garden.

Participants will also-

  • be provided with a take home design and instructions for the compost bin that meets the current Chicago City ordinance requirements and is the result of many years of working experience.
  • think through location of a bin and factors that contribute to to bin design choices include location- backyard bins, school or community garden bins, urban and rural locations, public or private property as well as quantity and type of raw compost and the temperature of community support all contribute to bin design choice. We will provide an overview of these factors and the opportunity to discuss specific bin choice issues.
  • Learn how to use a chop saw!

We will discuss other bin designs and the factors that feed into bin design decisions.

Workshop C-

Troubleshooting and Thriving at Community Composting: When Schools and Communities Combine:

In this workshop,  we’ll go through  common problems and solutions of composting in the city in public spaces. We will examine the challenges and opportunities of community gardens and schools working together. Special attention and inspection will be given to the new requirements of the Chicago Composting Ordinance. With a simple guide, issues such as pests, humidity, pH, oxygen, or nitrogen/carbon balance and temperature will be demystified. No less important are troubles or support of neighbors, the city, school communities,  perceived beauty and stink as well as the public awareness of the composting project and its story in relation to caring for our planet.  We will provide helpful materials and ideas to help your project thrive. This session includes talk of pests, neighbors, the man, the stink, too much of this, too little of that, community support, and more real life stories!