The GrowNYC Compost Program is typically focused on collecting residential food scraps, but this Spring, we’re also giving away free compost made from the food scraps we’ve collected in the last year and processed by our partners!
This is our annual act of reciprocity: we're closing the loop and giving thanks to the thousands of New Yorkers who have saved their food scraps from landfills by bringing them to our Food Scrap Drop-off sites. Small, 2-pound bags of ready-to-use compost will be available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last!
Compost Made in NYC
The compost for this Giveback is provided by two New York City Compost Project host sites: Queens Botanical Garden and Earth Matter NY. If you’ve dropped off food scraps at one of GrowNYC’s Food Scrap Drop-off (FSDO) sites, then the bag of compost you’ll receive may contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from your very own peels and pits. That’s what we mean when we say “closed loop.”
Compost Giveback Schedule
Quantities are limited and based on average weekly participation at each drop-off site, so consider coming early to make sure you get a bag. Our 2023 Spring/Summer givebacks are finished, past givebacks events are listed at the bottom of this page.
How to Use Compost
You don’t need to have a backyard or garden to have a use for compost. Indoor plants benefit from an annual application of compost, and we all have access to street trees that can use some love. We recommend mixing your compost into soil at a ratio of at least 3 parts soil to 1 part compost for best results.
For outdoor plants: Rake, sprinkle, or mix the compost into the soil of garden or tree beds.
For indoor plants: Gently mix an inch of compost into the top layer of potting soil, or blend with potting soil when repotting.
Compost is not shelf-stable and will not store well. Please use your compost within a week or two of receiving it.
Our small Compost Giveback bags are also compostable! Please remove the tin tie and sticker before bringing the empty bag back to a GrowNYC Food Scrap Drop-off site for composting.
What is compost, anyway?
During Compost Giveback events, there’s often some confusion about what we’re giving away and why. Here are a few definitions to know:
Food Scraps (noun) – the uneaten foods or parts of food. Calling these items scraps, rather than waste, highlights their value and potential for beneficial use, including human and animal consumption of rescued edible foods, composting, and anaerobic digestion.
Composting (verb) - the process of aerobic, biological decomposition that transforms organic materials like food scraps and fallen leaves into compost.
Compost (noun) – a soil amendment that resembles dark, crumbly topsoil, has a pleasant earthy smell, and has no resemblance to the original organic materials from which it is made. Compost refers to the finished product of the composting process, and is not to be confused with food scraps, which are just one ingredient in the composting process.
Soil (noun) – the upper layer of earth in which plants grow. Healthy soil consists of 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter. Soil is not to be confused with compost, which is a soil amendment that adds organic matter and beneficial microbes to soil.
When you drop off your food scraps with GrowNYC, we bring them to composting facilities, where they’re mixed with carbon-rich materials like leaves and wood chips, and transformed into compost. The finished compost can be used to improve soil quality for houseplants, gardens, and street trees alike.
The compost giveback is made possible by funding from the NYC Department of Sanitation.
Past Giveback Events
Thursday May 4th
Friday May 5th
Saturday May 6th
Sunday May 7th
Wednesday May 17th
Thursday May 18th
Friday May 19th
Saturday May 20th
Wednesday May 24th
Thursday May 25th
Friday May 26th
Saturday May 27th
Sunday May 28th
Wednesday May 31
Friday June 2nd
Saturday June 3rd
Sunday, June 4th
Wednesday, June 14th
Friday, June 16th
Sunday, June 18th