Truck Sustainability: Inside Crown Town Compost’s Citywide Operation


Join us in a brief imaginary walk through the world of 1990s children’s television.

A busy school bus screeches to a halt near a crowd of children. The door opens to reveal the driver, Mrs. Frizzle. “Seat belts, everyone!”

“Please let this be a normal tour,” Arnold prays.

“With a perm?” – other children answer. “No way!”

The magical school bus goes around bends, along banks and fields, and under water until Ms. Frizzle shouts, “Bus, mind your own business!” It shrinks and sinks into a planter outside The Giddy Goat Coffee Roasters at The Plaza in Charlotte.

“Oh, I know what it is!” – remarks Wanda. “Compost!”

“Wh-what?” Arnold says, holding his nose.

“Compost! People take old coffee grounds, leftovers, coffee cups and stuff and let it decompose and it turns into really rich soil,” says Wanda.

“It stinks,” Arnold says.

“Composting is important,” Ms. Frizzle adds, “because up to 40% of food in the United States ends up in the trash. We must reduce, reuse and recycle!”

The Dizzy Goat is, of course, a real place, as are Jeni’s, The Crunkleton, Smelly Cat and about 80 other Charlotte businesses that a local company called Crown Town Compost visits every week. The 7-year-old food waste disposal company transports waste from these commercial customers and about 900 homes for composting; part goes to an anaerobic digester in Charlotte and another part goes to Free Spirit Farm in Huntersville.

Crown city 003Twice a year, customers have the opportunity to return soil made from composted waste. While most want to claim their land, many don’t know what to do with it, says Eric Tice, one of Crown Town’s owners. That’s why, in 2021, Theys and co-owners Chris Steele, Charlie Hyland and David Walder launched Crown Town Landscapes to help their clients put their soil to good use. The landscape company works with clients to plant everything from flower beds and planters to gardens.

“It’s a full-circle process,” Teese says, “from food waste to compost to growing more food.”

At The Giddy Goat, Crown Town used the soil for a patio expansion project. At Smelly Cat Coffee, they use the soil to support a small garden with fruit trees, perennial vegetables and flowers. Crown Town donates unclaimed soil to community gardens; this year he donated 6 yards of garden land in the Villa Heights area.

Crown Town has been committed to making Charlotte more sustainable since its founders, Steele and Walder, came up with the idea over beers on Steele’s Plaza Midwood patio in 2015. The couple started small, riding bicycles to collect food waste from friends and neighbors at Plaza Midwood and Wilmore. They then began advertising at farmers markets.

That’s where Jamie Brown and Geoff Tunidandale, owners of Supperland, Haberdish, Ever Andalo (formerly Crêpe Cellar), Growlers Pourhouse and Reigning Doughnuts, opened Crown Town — at Atherton Farmers Market when it was still a trolley. Tonidandel-Brown Restaurant Group, which at the time consisted of only Crêpe Cellar and Growlers Pourhouse, became Crown Town’s first commercial client. Today, all of their restaurants compost through the company.

Crown City 044

Crown Town co-founder Chris Steele is developing a curriculum for public schools to teach students about composting and gardening.

“There are always leftovers in restaurants. Take vegetables, for example,” says Brown. “If you cut and trim them, you get carrot tops, mushroom trimmings, and cabbage ribs. We put these things aside and usually make a vegetable stock out of them. We try not to waste anything. … But once you create the stock and strain it, all those vegetables can be composted.”

Brown adds that composting takes sustainable dining to the next level, and it’s nice to “take that waste and use it over and over again.”

“Of course!” Mrs. Frizzle says. “Who’s with us?”

The class rejoices, and even Arnold is happy that he came on today’s field trip.

Tess Allen is Associate Editor.

Truck Sustainability: Inside Crown Town Compost’s Citywide Operation

Source link Truck Sustainability: Inside Crown Town Compost’s Citywide Operation