Market Compost Drop-off

Update April 2017: Keep your compostables coming! In addition to the bin(s) being available at all times by the white shed, as of this month, our table is returning to the Saturday Markets. Look for us at our same spot near the rock wall on the City Hall side of the Pavilion.

Update January 2017:  Keep your compostables coming to the current location of the bins by the white shed at the edge of the Turner Pavilion parking lot behind the Quilt Museum. Drop-off compostables there at your convenience. Compostable bags are available at the bins and Market Info counter during Market hours.

Black Bear Composting will give us 30-days notice of discontinuing its pick up service. If it is discontinued we will likely be able to find an alternative collection option.

Anyone is welcome to drop-off kitchen scraps to the 65-gallon Black Bear Composting bins located behind the Quilt Museum at anytime. Your compostables can be dumped directly from another container or placed in a paper bag, paper box (with any plastic tape collectionresultsand/or plastic labels removed) or BPI-certified compostable “plastic” bag. Complete list of accepted compostables HERE. Please see that one bin is full before using the second bin.

Questions? Contact Adrie at hburgcomposts [at]

Figure above shows estimate of program results through 2016 by Black Bear Composting … click on image for full report.

compost2The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is partnering with the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and Black Bear Composting to offer a Saturday Market compost drop-off station April through October 2016.

  • Visit any of the Harrisonburg Farmers Markets to pick up free compostable bags.
  • Use the bags to line a bucket or box in which to collect your organic kitchen wastes.
  • Bring the bag to any Saturday Harrisonburg Farmers Market, 8AM-1PM, April-October 2016, and your collected organic trash will be transported to Black Bear Composting to be turned into compost.
  • Even more details here.

Accepted items:

  • all food-related discards including meat, bones, and dairy products.
  • soiled paper and cardboard including pizza boxes, waxed paper, tissue paper. Note from Black Bear Composting: Clean paper and cardboard products should be recycled as paper whenever possible. However, food-soiled paper-based products can’t be recycled as paper, but can be recycled by composting.
  • BPI.label.600compostable plastic. Note from Black Bear Composting: The only compostable plastics we will accept are those clearly marked with the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) Compostable Product logo shown here. This certifies that the product completely biodegrades in a commercial-scale composting environment.
  • tea bags, tissues, toothpicks … find our comprehensive list here!


Unacceptable items:

  • Plastic coated paper which includes most paper cups.
  • Pet wastes. Although these can be composted at Black Bear Composting, we cannot currently accommodate them through the market drop-off station.
  • Latex and rubber items. Although both are organic in their pure form most things made from them have additives that prevent their decomposition. This includes chewing gum.
  • Stickers from fruit and vegetables … please remove these from your peelings.
  • Treated wood items.

Questions? Please contact hburgcomposts [at]

collection data button

Why are we doing this?

compostinthenewsWhat’s not to love about composting? It is the ultimate trash to treasure story whose benefits include:

  • curbing landfill growth; organic wastes are estimated to make up 30% by weight of household trash.
  • reducing the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, leaking from landfills (more here) (methane capture is notoriously inefficient)
  • improving stormwater runoff quality from compost-amended soils
  • reducing fossil fuel use from trash haulers (more here)
  • returning nutrients to soils instead of sequestering them in landfills
  • in Harrisonburg where all trash is mixed and hauled 65 miles to then have recyclables removed from the contaminated mix, separating out organic trash has the added benefit of a cleaner, more viable recyclable stream.

As we all know, “compost happpens,” so it does not take much work but does require space and willingness; and even so, backyard composting cannot accommodate animal products like meat, bones, grease, and dairy products, and compostable plastics.

BlackBearGoogleMapSnipThat’s where Black Bear Composting and its industrial composting facility in Crimora becomes a valuable local resource for waste-to-treasure generation. Large scale composting with frequent turning creates the high heat necessary to safely decompose animal products, compostable plastics and even pet wastes.

Black Bear Composting offers regular residential curbside pickup services in Charlottesville, Staunton, Waynesboro and Harrisonburg and contracts with schools and other facilities with food services, like James Madison University and the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, to pick up organic wastes. Last year, 2015, they partnered with the City of Charlottesville for a pilot market compost drop-off program. CAAV is inspired by this program to try a version of this in Harrisonburg for 2016.

Volunteers needed!

We are looking for bin monitors to help staff the compost drop-off station at the Harrisonburg Farmers Markets April-October 2016. Our station cannot be left unattended due to the likelihood of contaminates being added to the compostables.

Additionally we will be weighing donations and getting information on which neighborhood donations originate to help inform future efforts.

Contact Adrie at hburgcomposts [at] to sign up for a two hour Saturday Market shift.

Many thanks to the Headwaters Master Naturalists who have approved this project for volunteer service hours!

Donations accepted!

Monetary contributions towards the costs of Black Bear Composting services for this project are greatly appreciated. Donations can be brought to the Compost Drop-off Station at the Saturday Markets April-October 2016, or sent to:

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV)
c/o 745 S. Dogwood Dr., Harrisonburg, VA 22801

These are currently not tax deductible.

Many thanks to Keep Virginia Beautiful which awarded this project a 30 in Thirty grant of $500 in the Recycling category on June 4, 2016.


Backyard Composting Resources Here


About Vermiculture (Worm Composting) Here


Find more ways to recycle from the Harrisonburg Rockingham Green Network’s Green Directory Reuse/Recycle resources.

Black Bear Composting Tour of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Headwaters Master Naturalists, and volunteers with the Market Compost Drop-off station enjoyed a tour of Black Bear Composting in Crimora on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Photos and more about the trip HERE!