The Municipality of Anchorage is the largest urban area in Alaska, with its close to 300,000 residents making up 40 percent of the state’s population. This makes Anchorage a prime area for urban agriculture.
So last year when USDA’s new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production offered grants for community compost and food waste reduction, the Municipality of Anchorage jumped at the opportunity.
The Municipality of Anchorage Department of Solid Waste Services (SWS) was one of the first participants in this new competitive grant program, receiving $90,000 for a compost feasibility study and organics collection expansion project. USDA received more than 500 applications and SWS was one of 23 projects funded nationally.
SWS has been expanding composting and food waste reduction programs since 2016 – first with a Community Compost program and then Curbside Organics and a food scrap collection pilot with the Anchorage School District.
Keeping organics out of the landfill extends the life of the landfill, reduces methane emissions caused by landfilling organics, and provides economic opportunities for farmers, landscapers, residents and other entrepreneurs looking to make or use compost.
Since January of 2021, SWS has worked closely with consultant TetraTech to generate initial findings on a future composting program. While the full feasibility study is not yet complete, the consultants provided an interim report laying out some recommendations.
TetraTech identified the GORE cover system, which could process 100 tons and could be built at one of SWS's current facilities. Participants in the Community Compost drop-off program could continue bringing SWS their food scraps. But instead of trucking this material to a farm 50 miles away, as they currently do, this system would allow SWS to compost locally and provide finished compost locally.
To read more about this project, visit the Alaska NRCS website.
To learn more about opportunities for urban agriculture, see farmers.gov/urban.