Return of the Farmer Pirates


Some of you may remember the Kickstarter campaign I posted for Buffalo’s Farmer Pirate cooperative. It was successful; the group bought their dump truck and now they’re using it to pick up organic matter from restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial sites. They’ve also added a residential compost program. The other day I received a 5 gallon bucket from a couple pirates. They’ll be picking it up in a couple weeks, with pick-ups continuing throughout the growing season.

Technically, I already compost at home, but the experience has not been super-successful. I have a compost tumbler wedged in between my garage and the neighbor’s fence, but I rarely get back there to tumble the thing, or put anything in it. It’s not convenient where it is, but a composting operation would be unsightly anywhere else in my small courtyard garden.

Thanks to the pirates, urban residents who, like me, don’t have the space to compost, can still recycle organic matter that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Or, in my case, I might be so embarrassed to be resorting to this that I might find a way to make composting work at home.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Our city (Hamilton Ontario Canada), and several other cities in my area, have had green bin collection as part of garbage day for years. They collect your food scraps and yard waste, composte it, and then sell it. I don’t believe this includes restaurants but it should, and I imagine eventually it will. I guess I’m a little surprised that American cities don’t do the same.

  2. The link included to the Farmer Pirates compost program points to the page where we were testing out our new web design (which we’ve now launched). The form to sign up for the Compost Crew won’t work on that page.

    The actual Farmer Pirates website is at

    Thanks for the great press!

  3. San Diego and Orange counties pick up green waste and compost it. I’m not sure how it works in the OC, but in SD county, you just go to the dump and scoop up all the compost you want for free. For a nominal fee, they’ll scoop a load into your pick-up for you. It’s cheaper for the county than sending it off to the land fill. The giant windrows of compost, the turning machine, and the billowing steam are a sight to be seen, too.

  4. The City of Seattle takes all kitchen scraps (including things that one wouldn’t put in a home compost pile, like meat and dairy) along with the yard waste. In fact, the city requires that we put our kitchen scraps in the yard waste. It is all composted.

  5. This is very cool. Old time garden centers would sell soil by the bucket fool as well as bulk marble chips. Goes to show you that if you go back to your roots you will find success.

    Rock on the mighty compost sea!

    The TROLL

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