An urban gardener’s dirty little secret: Compostwheels

Mobile service picks up kitchen scraps and turns them into black gold


A garden is only as good as its soil, and for city gardeners that can be a challenge. If you don’t plan on using chemical fertilizers, then your garden needs a steady supply of rich compost: “black gold” made of decayed organic material such as manure, leaves or food scraps.

Short of having a dairy farm in the neighborhood, a reliable source for pre-composted material is your own kitchen. Vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells all do great in compost piles. But here’s the rub: The transition period between cleaning off your cutting board and nourishing your tomato plants can be awkward. Funny thing about rotting food, not everyone likes it.

Enter Compostwheels. This growing business, launched by clever college kid David Paull, takes most of the messiness out of home composting and turns it into good stuff for the garden.

Paull began the company in February 2012, during his sophomore year at Savannah College of Art and Design. When he graduates next year with a degree in interior design, he’ll become his company’s third full-time employee, overseeing a customer base that grows by five or 10 subscribing members each week. It has about 160 subscribers now.

Here’s how it works. Customers pay a monthly fee of $20 to $35 for pickup service of their kitchen scraps, either once a week or every other week. At each pickup, they’re provided with a clean compost pail. After four months, they’re entitled to their very own share of compost – up to 50 pounds per year.

Customers who don’t want compost back don’t have to take it. Compostwheels partners with public and nonprofit gardens to process and receive compost.

“There is value in getting the material away from landfills, but more important is that we create this nutrient-rich soil to grow from, and we’re partnering with the farms in this city we live in,” Paull says.

Want to give it a try? If you live inside the Perimeter, you can try the pickup service free for two weeks. Sign up here.