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Urban Agriculture Looks For Urban Compost

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Vinny Bevevino mixes up an acre-wide compost pile to fuel an  
urban farm.
Max Cole
Vinny Bevevino mixes up an acre-wide compost pile to fuel an urban farm.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

Typically unsellable produce from grocery stores and warehouses in the D.C. region is shipped off to get composted as far away as Delaware. One group wants to keep that waste to fuel urban agriculture here.

Just inside the beltway, in College Park Maryland, a small bulldozer is rearranging 100 yard long piles of woodchips and, what looks like, vegetables.

That's Vinnie Bevevino stepping out of the cab. He's with nonprofit Engaged Community Offshoots or ECO.

"Basically we're mixing two main ingredients, food waste and woodchips to make compost," says Bevevino.

A lot of it, he just got 10 tons of unsellable produce from wholefoods, and many more tons of woodchips from Asplundh, the contractor that Pepco uses to trim trees away from powerlines. In a few months, it'll go to an urban farm in Edmondston Maryland.

"Our vision is a network of urban farms," he says.

Apart from creating local organic produce, Bevevino says one goal of urban agriculture is to alleviate poverty.

"Keeping money, keeping our wealth local, not hiring other people when we could be hiring ourselves," he explains.

To do that, he says urban farmers will need impeccable soil to maximize output. His first batch of compost will be ready in September.

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