Composting proposal could lead to community garden at Kirkwood

by Geoff Fox

Amy Gillespie of Hancock Works! is trying to get a composting site at Kirkwood Park that could help local restaurants dispose of food scraps and create a community garden for Hancock residents.

The idea came from BuddyLou’s as there is a lot of residual food waste from the restaurant, Gillespie said. Hancock is a designated “sustainable” Maryland community, and is authorized to have a composting site. The house and property at the entrance of Kirkwood Park could be the home for the project.

Gillespie and others traveled to Baltimore to see firsthand how such a project could be run.

Gillespie said all that is needed is a garden box and a small shed to have a compost site.

“So we’ve done a lot of investigation to the possibility of doing some type of composting here in Hancock,” Gillespie said. “We’re still working on it, but it’s just an idea of something that we can do together as a community.”

She added if people wanted garden boxes they could do it and if enough food is grown it could be donated to those who needed it, or “whatever we chose to do.”

One concern Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr. had about composting was if it would attract wildlife.

Town officials had a discussion about having a compost site in Hancock and one spot mentioned was this shed area behind the town owned house at Kirkwood Park.

“Baltimore doesn’t have bears,” he said.

Lanehart doesn’t live far from Kirkwood Park and said there have been bears around the park every year.

With the number of kids playing ball at the park, the compost could be drawing bears to the ball fields. There could also be rats, Lanehart noted.

The spot behind the house at Kirkwood has a concrete slab and a roofed shed, but with a little bit of wood, Gillespie said, it could become a town composting site.

There were concerns about the smell, but Gillespie said there wasn’t a foul odor coming from the composting site she visited.

Someone would need to turn the compost every so often and move it from one box to another to control odor and encourage decay.

One difference between the Baltimore’s project and the proposed one in Hancock is the number of restaurants.

According to Baltimore City data, there were 1,327 restaurants as of April 22, 2019, in the city. In Hancock, there are around 10.

Lanehart pointed out the discrepancy to Gillespie who said not all the compost comes from the restaurants but instead from families as well.

Mayor Ralph Salvagno said the point of the matter is they’re looking for a use for the property the house sits on and the proposed project makes Hancock more attractive to people who might find a use in the composting site.

Gillespie said in Baltimore, they were using the compost sites as a learning experience for kids as well.

She said there could be classes on how to can food and other such ideas.

It could also lead to a community garden in the area. The town has had community gardens in the past in Widmyer Park where people could walk and take care of their garden.

Visibility for chargers

With the town trying to entice people to come to Hancock, Lanehart asked how many people were using the electric car charging stations in the Rail Trail Parking Lot at the bottom of Church Street.

Councilman Tim Boyer said there have been people using them on busy weekends.

Boyer said car companies are moving more and more towards using electric batteries in their vehicles and once prices start coming down, people would be buying those vehicles.

Salvagno said Google Maps isn’t updated very often and the information could be six months old on the site.

“We haven’t really made the maps for electric car chargers,” the mayor said. “They might not know they’re here.”

In a couple months, that could change.

Councilman Tim Smith said the people who would be using those charging stations would be people visiting Hancock, as locals prefer four-wheel drive pick up trucks.