Local club builds community through compost


In the fall of 2010, a group of friends came together to create a group dedicated to helping the community, forming what is currently known as Coffee to Compost.

Twice a week, members collect coffee grounds to turn into compost to be used by local Bozeman residents, various community garden sites and their parent organization, “1000 New Gardens.”

The coffee grounds are collected from Zocalo Coffee House, Wild Joe’s, the Nova Café and the Union Market in the SUB. Looking to expand their collection efforts and total compost output, the group picks up old coffee grounds and adds them to decaying backyard piles of compost in order to grow gardens.

The group consists mostly of MSU students, with the addition of some other community members. Megan Shaver, a junior in sociology, said a big reason for joining the group was to help build a “supportive community where the college is giving back to Bozeman, and using the space around us in the most efficient way possible.”

Seeking to make Coffee to Compost a community-wide project, the group is always looking for new people to help out. They believe in the cause of composting as a sustainable and natural method of growing food locally in the Gallatin Valley, and seek to help make Bozeman a more natural community through healthier eating choices. The major goal is to collect the coffee in the fall and winter so the compost can be used in gardens throughout the spring and summer.

Building constructions made of straw, leaves and coffee grounds, Coffee to Compost is all about sustainability. Even throughout the winter, they bike to the locations to collect the coffee grounds. Carts are attached to their bikes, which haul around 15-gallon trash cans half-filled with coffee grounds.

Shaver remarked that riding around town is her favorite part. She said in regards to picking up old coffee grounds, “It’s plain ridiculousness that there are some of us that find enjoyment in riding bikes with crazy trailers tied with old webbing to the back of bikes.”

While waiting for members to arrive on a Friday afternoon, the group turned massive pounds of compost with shovels and hooked up the trailer to a bike. Whether the group members are collecting coffee grounds or turning compost to get it ready for use, they are always up for a good laugh. Someone noted that the tardy members must be “running on compost time — slow.”

Erik Anderson, the president of Coffee to Compost and an environmental sciences student at MSU, is a big part of the club’s success. He makes sure new members are welcomed and the compost is maintained.

In regards to plans for the future, Shaver voiced her excitement and wishes for Coffee to Compost to grow throughout Bozeman. She even mentioned ideas of helping community members with garden upkeep, harvests and teaching clinics on how to preserve and prepare the locally grown food.

Whether they are biking through snow or turning over hundreds of pounds of compost, the members of Coffee to Compost are always up for the challenge to make Bozeman better — a few pounds of used coffee grounds at a time.