First, let me introduce you to Cycles|Compost|Charleston. They are a small group of Charlestonians committed to making a positive contribution to the city, and preserving it for future generations. By bicycle, they pick up organic food waste, compost it and then redistribute the luscious, nutrient rich dirt back onto the peninsula. They have involved at this point 5 restaurants in their community enrichment program and have reduced their waste by more than 50 percent. They also just started managing the garden at Shaw Community Center, which I will be telling you more about later.  I tagged along with Nathan Burnell, one of the founders of C|C|C, to get an idea of what a daily composting trip entails.

My tour started at 12:00 at Nathan’s house where I was greeted by all kinds of beautiful vegetables, trees and flowers all in the signature C|C|C white 5 gallon buckets wrapped in burlap.  He explained the plant and flower names to me and I ate my very first pineapple tomato which are these little, round, fruit like balls of goodness that are about the size of a pea.  YUM!  There were also all kinds of starter plants, Eggplant flowers, wild flowers, Mulberry trees, cabbage….the list goes on.


Then we went through the process of hooking up the bicycle to the trailer and loading it up with empty compost bins and tools like a shovel and hoe.  Once we were all hooked up and loaded down I got to do the honors of driving around the compost trailer to get the full experience!  Nathan filled me in on old war stories about wrecking the trailer by hitting curbs and other incidents that come along with towing a trailer on a bicycle through downtown Charleston….needless to say, I put my big girl composting pants on and went for it!


Our first stop was Shaw Community Center located at 20 Mary Street.  This is an amazing community center in Charleston and I personally feel it is an untapped resource for the local community.  It is my hope that we can spread the Good word about this center and the amazing things happening there.  I’ve listed a few of the programs below.

  • Homework Help~Free homework assistance from 3-4pm each afternoon for children ages 5-12.
  • Hit the Books ~H.I.T the books is an academic program which offers assistance in math, reading, English, science and writing. In addition, the program helps to develop strong study skills. Classes will be held Monday through Friday from 4 to 5pm for ages 12 to 18. This is a free program.
  • Carolina Studios/ Music Education~Through the use of specialized equipment, high-quality microphones in the studios isolation booths, you will be able to edit, produce and burn your own CD. For more information visit Carolina Studios website. Classes will be held Monday through Friday from 3 to 7pm for ages 12 to 18. This is a free program. THESE ARE ALL FREE PROGRAMS!!!


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Another great thing at Shaw is the outside garden that Cycles|Compost|Charleston started managing a few months ago.   They have the most spectacular plans for the expansion and procurement of this outside space. We stopped there to drop off some food scraps into the compost bin, pulled some weeds and checked in on all the okra, cantaloupes and honeydew growing!


Next stop…..


This is were they get all the luscious coffee grinds from AND cool refreshing drinks of cucumber water, which on a Charleston summer day is a complete game changer.


Each business is supplied with 2 clean buckets and they have 1-2 days to fill these up with waste and food scraps before it is picked up and replaced with 2 more clean bins for filling. After our first pick up I realized their drop off/pick up program is a fine oiled machine.  If the cyclers get there after hours the bucket is left outside and allows the C|C|C volunteers more freedom with scheduling the pick-ups.


We continued to pick up at Sugar, Butcher & Bee, The Daily and The Alley.  Okay, so now we have a full trailer of food scrapes and it’s time to make some compost!!!!



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We headed to the last stop of the day which is the composting bins located behind Barsa, the tapas lounge on King street.   There is a free community garden with beautiful and ripe butternut squash and three composting bins.


We emptied all our buckets into the bin and took our shovel to spread around all the fresh, good scrapes for the worms and insects to feast on.

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I learned a lot from Nathan and Cycles|Compost|Charleston.  They are passionate about the environment and making real change in our local Charleston Community.

After reading this hopefully you will notice these buckets at participating restaurants, if you haven’t already.  You can support them by liking there FB page, buying a succulent plant that sits in their homemade local compost or donating money to their cause.  Or maybe you are interested in becoming a C|C|C volunteer!!  One of my favorite things to do is bike downtown, and to also help out a great cause like saving the environment only added to my amazing experience!

Thank you Nathan and Cycles|Compost|Charleston for the great experience…I’ll be back!!

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