Better Buckets 2015

Now in its second year, “Better Buckets” allows individuals and families in the Redwood area to isolate food scraps from the waste stream in order to benefit their community.

Food scraps compose a full 20 percent of what ends up in landfills each year. In a landfill, this perfectly biodegradable material is buried under all kinds of other trash, meaning air can't get to the food scraps in order to ensure decomposition. The food sits there, taking up space and doing no good for anybody. The time has come to change all that.

Better Farm will deliver five-gallon pails free of charge to those who have signed up and make regular visits to empty the buckets—or individuals can bring their full buckets to the community compost bin in Redwood or at Better Farm at anytime. Pickup service in Redwood is free; all other locations are $5/pickup. People living near each other can combine their compost for one single, $5 pickup location.

Over time, food scraps become healthy soil perfect for growing fresh produce. That's right, say goodbye to chemical fertilizer! Adios to artificial additives for your plants! Anyone dropping food scraps off at the Redwood community compost station is welcome to visit that spot to pick up fresh dirt throughout the growing season.

Better Farm's three-tier composting system, constructed with previously discarded pallets.

Better Farm's three-tier composting system, constructed with previously discarded pallets.

For this program, Better Buckets locations on Route 37 in Redwood and at Better Farm utilize three-tier compost bin systems. Here is how it works:

All your dead leaves, grass clippings, twigs, hay, and kitchen food scraps get tossed into the first section of the compost bin until it's a full, big pile. When that bin is full, you shovel it all into the second bin (top-to-bottom). Then you go back to filling the first section of your compost bin. When it fills up again, you move everything from compartment 2 to 3, and from 1 to 2. Then you start over. When all three compartments are full (this should take the average household a full year or even longer), the third bin should be ready to be shoveled out into your garden.

Over time, materials in each bin decompose. The process is sped up by your twice-yearly aeration (manually shoveling the pile into the next bin), rainwater falling from overhead, and the natural aeration that will occur by oxygen reaching your pile from the nice big spaces between the wood of the pallets.

To receive a bucket, arrange pick-up or drop off schedules, or for more information, please email

This is a program being utilized throughout the state, country and world. One similar program is in place in Onondaga County, where residents pay $35 for a membership fee that allows them to drop off compost and pick up dirt throughout the year. Click here to learn more about that comparable program.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.