Our Work

Common Compost is a sustainable food recycling and composting service provider located in Oakland, California.  We're dedicated to increasing access to high quality, locally produced compost for urban agricultural projects. Our programs encourage food processors to think more holistically about food waste and help them to reclaim it as a renewable resource for nearby community gardens, farms, and city soil.

Closing the loop on Urban farm-to-fork

Our Work

Our Vision

Common Compost wants a world where 100% of food waste is diverted from landfills and given to it's highest and best use, including for feeding people, feeding animals, and composting.  We believe that community food recycling networks can strengthen multiple layers of local sustainability in our era of rapid urban growth.  But all food systems begin and end with healthy soil.  At Common Compost, we especially value the nutrients in vegetative food scraps needed to create organic fertilizer, and see the importance of keeping this resource local as we work to re-soil urban environments.

Our Mission

Common Compost is dedicated to developing cooperative membership between food processors and compost users that can: 

•Produce a high quality, affordable compost accessible to urban community agriculture.

•Empower urban recycling relationships that sustainably generate local soil, food, and jobs.

The Top 5 Reasons

...that we’re very different from other food recycling services.

  1. We compost using worms- called vermicomposting!  This helps us minimize odors and pests, and is easily done in compact spaces with little nuisance to urban communities.  Worms also produce a nutrient rich fertilizer, known as worm castings or vermicompost, that can increase crop yields and drought tolerance among many other agricultural benefits.
  2. We only collect vegetative food material, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, edible flowers, nuts, spent grains, and coffee chaff from food manufacturers and processors in Alameda county (as pursuant to OMC 08.28.060 Section G).  We DON'T collect meat, dairy, animal fats, or eggs!  We also don’t take food products that can be donated for human consumption, cooked or expired foods, vegetative scraps mixed with salts or preservatives, large amounts of citrus, or any other mixed organics such as food soiled paper, boxes, and compostable products.
  3. Our vermicompost is distributed directly to agricultural projects in the Bay area.   We provide fertilizer on a subscription basis to our members - local community gardens, urban farms, and organic landscaping businesses! 
  4. Our vermicomposting bins are located within a few miles of each food waste provider, or directly on their property!  By keeping the composting process hyper local, we're able to reduce the costs and environmental impacts traditionally associated with transporting waste, as well as empower community composting networks that strengthen a more sustainable food system.
  5. We plan to become a social cooperative, one where all participants in the production and consumption of our compost are member‐owners with voting rights and dividends proportionate to their contribution.  

Our Story

 L to R: "Global Worming" team grand prize winners at Living the New Economy Hackathon 2014 Derek Hamilton, Audra Nemir, Kourtnii Brown, Karissa McKelvey, and Heather Manchester (not pictured Jim Kleiber).

L to R: "Global Worming" team grand prize winners at Living the New Economy Hackathon 2014 Derek Hamilton, Audra Nemir, Kourtnii Brown, Karissa McKelvey, and Heather Manchester (not pictured Jim Kleiber).

Kourtnii Brown, local community gardener and compost enthusiast, founded Common Compost in 2015 as a way to realize the efficiency and benefits of composting with worms at an urban scale.  After experiencing the ease of composting her own kitchen scraps using red wigglers, as well as learning from similar urban micro-composting enterprises in California, she became dedicated to pursuing the potential that vermicomposting could serve for the greater urban agriculture and food recycling movements in the San Francisco Bay area.  Kourtnii’s idea for a social cooperative won the Living the New Economy’s Hackathon in November 2014, for which she was offered a scholarship to Uptima Business Bootcamp for a one-year entrepreneurship accelerator at Impact Hub Oakland.  Since completing the program in March 2016 and launching the pilot project, Common Compost has attracted membership interest from dozens of local food processors, farmer’s markets, community gardens, urban farms, and landscapers throughout Alameda county.  Common Compost is currently seeking non-profit fiscal sponsorship and fundraising to run a 3-year pilot project, with hopes to establish a formal member-owned social cooperative.

Stay tuned, ... our story is only beginning!   

Our Leadership

The team at Common Compost is made up of a diverse group of stakeholders, but all of us wish to see a world where food recycling empowers communities to build resiliency for climate change, energy use, food security, human health, and the economy.  We're always interested in more help with our pilot project operations and cooperative development.  

  • Please complete our volunteer form if you're interested in joining our operations team.
  • Please complete our membership form if you're interested in joining our cooperative.