Our Earth Month sustainability series is made possible by the support of Friends of the Big Sioux River. They're celebrating Earth Day with a new release of Big Sioux Brew and river clean-up events throughout the watershed. Learn more about their mission here.

Simplified: SoDak Compost started as a six-month pilot program funded by a city sustainability grant. Nearly a year later, the nonprofit has kept 13,000 pounds of food waste out of the landfill, and a new partnership will help them double their capacity.

Why it matters

  • Composting food scraps creates a closed loop system in the environment. Food grows in the ground, gets eaten, and the scraps are composted back into materials that help fertilize the soil for future food growth.
  • By contrast, in landfills, food scraps tend to become "mummified" and don't break down into compost, said Deirdre Appel, founder of SoDak Compost.
  • SoDak Compost will expand to a second location in town in the coming months, doubling its capacity. And long-term plans include making compost available at all community gardens as well as a larger-scale compost option for local businesses to use.
"The vision is that this expansion can show that there’s a lot of other locations that could have (food scrap) drop-off sites,"Appel said. "We kind of have the system down, now. We know how it works ... we're really just looking for more locations."

How does SoDak Compost work?

The goal is to make composting easy, Appel said.

  • She said she often hears people talking about how they're nervous to start composting because they're not sure if they're doing it right, or they're worried about creating bad smells or attracting animals.
"The ability to just have someone else manage all that – and they can still get their goal of not throwing away food scraps – I think is kind of a win-win situation," she said.

Right now, the nonprofit has about 60 families and two small businesses signed up and participating in its composting program.

People apply to participate, and if accepted, they'll collect food scraps and drop them off weekly at SoDak Compost's bins located at IronFox Farms in east-central Sioux Falls.

  • So far, the nonprofit hasn't turned away any households that have wanted to participate, Appel said.
  • It has had to turn down businesses due to lack of current capacity, but Appel hopes to someday expand to a site that could support a food waste digester machine – essentially a big dumpster that can process large amounts of food scraps.

Tell me more about the second location

This summer, SoDak Compost will add compost bins at the Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church near 69th Street and Western Avenue.

  • The church has a community garden, and the compost bins will be used both to collect food scraps and to eventually provide compost to support the garden itself.

With a second location, Appel expects the nonprofit's capacity will double, and they'll be able to take on food scraps from at least 60 more households.

How can I support SoDak Compost?

You can apply to participate in their composting program or you can donate money to support their work – learn more about both options on the nonprofit's website.

In the coming weeks, SoDak Compost will also have packaged compost available for purchase. Follow the organization's social media channels for more.