On the Record
by Kayla Borg
Nov 03, 2009 | 22318 views | 0 0 comments | 965 965 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kate Zidar has gone from the Amazon jungle to the concrete jungle, and finds that they are more similar than you think. The 32-year-old Pittsburgh native, who has moved around quite a bit through her work as a biologist and environmental planner, recently founded an influential and unique project called the North Brooklyn Compost Project. She said around these parts, the action is in New York City.

“If you’re from the northeast, you go to,” New York, said Zidar. “When I moved to the city I found that the built environment and the natural environment were so connected that I needed to learn more.”

She said she learned quickly that the environmental priorities in New York, and specifically in Brooklyn, revolve around improving water pollution and waste management. Then she got to work.

The Brooklyn Compost Project, founded in 2004, is a volunteer-based group. Originally a small community garden group that harvested and distributed compost, the project now has over three hundred members and entails a compost collection effort throughout several North Brooklyn neighborhoods. The project members also distribute compost material to parks, gardens, and tree pits.

According to Zidar, “compost is essentially the food of the soil. New York City is somewhat impermeable because it is almost 99 percent rooftops and concrete, so the soil is very hard and dry. And because so many residents put their food into trash bags and take it away, the soil is denied valuable nutrients; when you add compost to soil you are adding nutrition.”

Zidar said the group is striving to make an impact on not only the soil itself, but on the water cycle as well. Their work is beginning to pay dividends: compost project’s powerful message has inspired several new volunteer projects throughout Brooklyn.

“Compost is like baking a cake, the better the ingredients, the better the overall result,” said Zidar. “We want to spread awareness, demonstrate how safe the process is, and get the public involved.”

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