Food scrap composting is beginning to take off across the East End with the launch of the pilot of East Hampton Compost, a community food scrap drop-off program launched this week by East Hampton Town.

The town is collaborating with ReWild Long Island to collect food scraps at the Springs and Sag Harbor farmers markets. The scraps will be composted at the town’s recycling center on Springs-Fireplace Road.

East Hampton’s program comes on the heels of a town-wide food scrap composting program in Riverhead that launched in May after a successful pilot project in Calverton last fall, and a pilot program in Southold Town in 2020.

East Hampton hopes that, by participating in the program, “residents can actively contribute to a more sustainable East Hampton and transform food scraps into nutrient-rich compost that revitalizes our soils, reduces our carbon footprint, reduces stormwater runoff, and supports crucial pollinator populations.”

During this summer’s pilot, East Hampton Compost will receive food scraps at two farmers markets. The ReWild Eco Table at the Springs farmers market will receive drop-offs each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 15 through Sept. 23. The ReWild Eco Table at the Sag Harbor farmers market will accept limited drop-offs each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, July 22 through late September. Additional pop-up locations may be added.

“This initiative is another step towards achieving our sustainability goals,” said East Hampton Town Board Member Cate Rogers, an enthusiastic supporter of the project. “By working together, we can make a tangible difference in reducing food waste and our carbon emissions and also preserving the natural beauty of East Hampton.”

The organizers of this project estimate that households in East Hampton throw out more than $20 million worth of food each year. Trucking of food in traffic down the narrow arteries to the Hamptons also contributes to greenhouse gases. While food waste in landfills degrades in a way that releases methane, composting returns nutrients and organic matter to the soil, and compost helps soil to retain water and absorbs stormwater before it reaches the bays.

Visit EastHamptonCompost.org to learn more about the program, register to drop off your food scraps or volunteer. For more information, contact Gloria Frazee at EastHamptonCompost@gmail.com. More info is also available on their Facebook page.

Compost will also be on the minds of North Forkers this summer. The Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association hosts a discussion on “What Are You Doing With Your Food Waste” at its monthly meeting on Monday, July 31 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Veterans Park in Mattituck, where Mark Haubner of the North Fork Environmental Council and Beth Fiteni of the Long Island Organics Council will discuss the benefits of food scrap composting. All are welcome to attend.

Here’s Ms. Fiteni’s TedX talk on the subject.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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