Making Gold: Composting In Nashville

By TNFP’s Community Engagement Manager, Elizabeth Langgle-Martin

The world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it, there is nothing purer than that.
— Rupi Kaur

This quote from Rupi Kaur is one of my favorites. This idea, this value, of creating worth out of something that can be seen as the garbage of life (literally or figuratively), is inspiring and challenging.   

I’m fairly certain the Rupi Kaur wasn’t talking about compost, but the idea of taking our forgotten bits, our discarded carrot ends, broken eggshells and spent coffee grounds and diverting them to be used as rich inputs for the earth which we have abused and abandoned for so long feels almost holy.


This ritual, this practice, of carefully collecting the skins of onions, the stubby bottoms of asparagus and the spinach that has developed an acute layer slime, speaks to a level of restoration that is life giving to me.  

In both of our TNFP kitchens, you’ll see volunteers and staff alike hoarding apple cores and potato peels and transporting them to our compost bins to be turned lovingly into invaluable nutrients that are sown back into our gardens to grow countless more serving of organic fruits and vegetables for individuals facing food insecurity in the Nashville area.

Not all of us operate commercial kitchens or spend our days tending production and community gardens. However, there is space for each of us to create rhythms of intentionality in reducing the waste we contribute to the landfill and leveraging every smidge of our resources for the benefit of our world.

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So how can you make gold out of the forgotten bits of tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s lunch?

We often have folks reach out and ask this exact question. Individuals living in apartments or families who may not have the time, space, or desire to facilitate their own composting process but who are acutely aware of the need for a change in the way we view and handle our kitchen waste.

Many Nashville neighbors aren’t aware that Metro Nashville provides drop off for compostable materials at 4 of its convenience centers scattered throughout Davidson county. These sites allow residents who are interested in the practice of composting a feasible way to make a shift in the way they view and revere scraps and other materials. Their website notes that 28% of all waste in Nashville is actually compostable materials.

Metro provides simple guidelines for those wishing to participate:

  1. Ensure that all the items you are collecting are truly compostable. See their whole list HERE. Unlike many home compost systems, Metro Convenience Centers can even accept meat, fat and bone scraps. Double check that your contribution is free of materials deemed off limits: Plastic, expanded foam, metal, aluminum foil, animal or human waste and dryer sheets.

  2. Collect items in a compostable bag or cardboard container. Alternatively, you can transport your items in a re-usable container and dump the contents directly in the compost container at the convenience site.   

  3. Deliver to one of the four designated Convenience Center Sites free of charge.  

And the options don’t end there! If you’re interested in paying to have your compost picked up from your home or business, The Compost Company and Compost Nashville are two great local resources.

The practice of compost exists at the intersection of our TNFP values of Interdependence and Stewardship. We are committed to seeing these values realized in our spaces as an organization, but feel truly effective when we see them spill over into the homes of our friends, our teams, our volunteers and families.

We invite you to participate as we strive to honor both those around us and our world more fully each day, with our words, our actions, and yes… even our moldy strawberries.