Contentious Law Penalizes Gardener for Using Offsite Kitchen Scraps

>> Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms in Los Angeles, California, was cited because of a law on the books that states that “composting material must be generated on-site unless it is placed in a vessel that controls airborne emissions”. What this means is that in Los Angeles you can only legally compost what you produce on your property unless your compost bin is a “commercially approved” device.

I wonder how this affects Starbuck’s program of giving away used coffee grounds to anyone who asks.

Kolla had established a relationship with a local restaurant to fill a garbage can she provided each week with their vegetable scraps, which she would then haul to her half acre urban farm and add to her own compost bin. Sounds like a great relationship. Food scraps and the methane gas they produce via composting, are kept out of landfills and Kolla gets to make rich organic compost for her garden. It’s a win-win.

This illustrates what environmentally conscious individuals are striving for, a closed loop, reducing carbon emissions by keeping everything local, and reducing the amount of waste sent to local landfills. But the current letter of the law in Los Angeles states that if you take grass clippings, orange peels, or fallen fruit from a neighbor, you are in violation of the law and could be cited and fined.

This law needs to be rewritten to reflect the spirit of a time honored practice of recycling nutrients back to the earth in a manner in which they will do the most good. Gardeners and environmentalists have known of this practice for years, we need to educate our law makers.

This is also another example of local bureaucracies interfering in what happens in our backyards and defies common sense. Here’s the original LA Times article in full length detail. An official from the local waste management board stated that he’d like to see the law changed, but intending to change the law is still a long step from tangible changes. Also, bear in mind that your city may have a similar law on the books and that your current composting activities may violate the law.

If this outrages, or even mildly upsets you, you should be aware of the other areas that the government is trying to intrude on the activity in your backyard. Read here about efforts to track every backyard chicken in America with the USDA’s proposed NAIS. And on a positive note about government interventions, read here about Maryland considering a ban controversial food dyes.

Further reading:
National Animal Identification System
U.S. Court, FDA: Raw Milk Like Toxic Waste


Matron February 24, 2009 at 10:57 AM  

I just can't wait till they find out where horse manure comes from!!

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