Councilors team up for composting, urban agriculture

Two local city councilors are teaming up to bring a citywide compost program to residents and to increase urban agriculture opportunities.

At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo, who lives in Jamaica Plain, and City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents JP, heard calls for the aforementioned actions during the JP State of the Neighborhood forum Feb. 26. They are now following through, with a hearing order on urban agriculture filed on March 11 and a hearing order on composting slated to be filed on March 27, after the Gazette deadline.

The two councilors recently sat down with the Gazette at J.P. Licks to discuss the measures.

“We aren’t the experts, but they exist,” said Arroyo. O’Malley chimed in, “And we can get them in a room.”

The compost program would be similar to the current curbside trash and recycling pickup. Urban agriculture could include a variety of opportunities, including increased gardening space and backyard chickens.

The councilors said the measures are good for the environment and builds community spirit. O’Malley called the two measures a “perfect marriage.”

Arroyo is no stranger to agriculture, having grown up with a mother who gardened. He also participated in school program when he was a 13-year-old where he traveled to Lynnfield and harvested crops on a farm.

The two councilors said more school participation with urban agriculture could be one result from the measure. They also talked about rooftop gardens and turning vacant lots into gardening space.

O’Malley said that a citywide composting program is economically feasible, while Arroyo noted that in San Francisco, where there has been composting and recycling, trash has been reduced 78 percent.

“You don’t have to be an urban farmer to do composting,” Arroyo added.

The councilors said the fact they learned of the issues from the State of the Neighborhood forum speaks to the importance of the event and to residents’ activism.

Asked for a timeframe for when these measures could take effect, Arroyo responded, “As fast as people will it.”

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