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What to do with pumpkins after Halloween: Compost jack-o-lanterns at these community sites


Conventional wisdom says there are only two things to do with a jack-o-lantern after Halloween: throw it in the trash, or leave it rotting on your stoop until it’s time for a Christmas tree. But there’s actually a third, better option. You can compost it.

Composting is a multi-step process in which organic matter — including gourds, leaves, sawdust and even coffee grounds — breaks down naturally into soil. The finished product is great for gardening, since it’s packed with nutrients, but it also reduces food waste that otherwise would release greenhouse gases in a landfill.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation opened about a dozen composting sites in community gardens across the city. The launch of this composting network had been long delayed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed similar organic waste programs in New York, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. 

Previously, Philly residents had to pay a private service to participate in composting, or do it themselves in a backyard. Those are still options — Bennett Compost and Circle Compost are the primary companies with compost pick-up services in Philadelphia.

But if you live near one of the following community gardens, free composting also may be available. Maita Soukup, a spokesperson for the Parks and Recreation, stressed that these are small neighborhood sites with limited capacity, so it’s best to consult the location nearest you for more information. Students at St. James School and Hardy Williams Academy Master Charter also may be able to use their campus compost bins.

• Liberty Lands at Third and Wildey streets; drop-off Saturdays between 11 a.m. and noon
• Brewerytown Garden at 27th and Master streets
• Temple Community Garden at Diamond and Carlisle streets
• Pleasant Playground Garden at Pleasant and Boyer streets
• Pearl Street Garden at 55th and Vine streets
• Lawncrest Community Garden at Lardner Street and Rising Sun Avenue
• Eighth & Poplar Farm
• Cesar Andreu Iglesias Garden at Lawrence and Arlington streets; drop-off Saturdays at noon
• Collins Smith Barrick Play Garden at Hagert and Amber streets; contact the garden at csbplaygarden@gmail.com or via the Facebook group to arrange
• Hunting Park Community Garden at Hunting Park Avenue and Ninth Street

This story has been updated with additional drop-off times


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