Urban Farmers Cultivating Eight Acres in Berkeley Eager To Deploy Mountain of Compost Donated by Schnucks

Donation Marks Success of Grocer’s Food Waste Recycling Program

Berkeley’s celebrated band of urban farmers know exactly what to do with the mountain of compost being donated to them by Schnucks, the area’s largest grocer. “It comes in real handy,” said Richard Austin, 79, of Berkeley. “We haven’t had anything like this compost before. It will really help the garden. This ground hasn’t been worked on in quite some time.”

All told, Schnucks is donating three tractor trailer loads of compost to the eight-acre farm at 5294 Glencoe Avenue off North Hanley Road. The donation symbolizes the success of the company’s on-going food waste recycling initiative. According to St. Louis Composting, which is delivering the nutrient-charged product to the plot in Berkeley, 23 participating Schnucks stores across metro St. Louis have diverted more than 4.3 million pounds of food scraps away from area landfills since mid-2011.

In addition to expired bakery goods and left-over food from deli, salad bar and hot bar operations that is not suitable to donate to Operation Food Search, the region’s largest distributor of free food to the poor, Schnucks sets aside trimmings from its produce and floral departments. Teammates at the stores load the organic material into special 64-gallon totes which are collected bi-weekly by Total Organics Recycling and transported to a composting facility.

Upon arrival, St. Louis Composting mixes the food scraps with other organic material, primary yard trimmings. Over the next six months, aided by precisely timed manipulation, the organic material is transformed into high-quality, all-natural compost ready to nourish gardens and lawns.

“We plan to put compost on the garden after the growing season is over to make it twice as rich for next spring,” advised Joe Spears, 70, a McDonnell Douglas retiree who resides in Rock Hill, Mo. “It will make our garden so much better next year.”

Roots of Berkeley’s Community Farm
Earlier this year, contractor Clayco, Inc. deeded the vacant eight-acre tract off North Hanley Road to a group of about 50 urban farmers hailing from across the region. The parcel replaced a nine-acre tract in Kinloch that the farmers had been free-cropping since the early 1980s. The land in Kinloch was needed to accommodate growth at NorthPark Business Park – including a distribution center in which Schnucks is investing.

An Environmentally Aware Company
Schnucks, which operates 98 stores in five states, has long recycled cardboard, plastic shopping bags and clean plastic wrappings. It has also sought to adhere to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification guidelines on its newly constructed stores.