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Food for the Earth

Award category
Reconnecting with nature
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
Food for the Earth
Full project title
Food for the Earth

“Food for the Earth – Composting Communities for Climate” project was awarded in the contest of Climate Community Lab. It was born from a cross-border collaboration between Urban Cultor startup in Bucharest, Romania, and Our Neighborhood Association for Sustainable Practices in Bulgaria.


What was the geographical scope of your project?
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly urban
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Which or fund(s)? Provide the name of the programme(s)/fund(s), the strand/action line as relevant and the year.

Project Community Lab for Changemakers with Climate Kic 

Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

The pilot project idea is to make a demo project of community composting “in situ” in Bucharest for a cross border multiplication and scale the already started initiative in Sofia. Design, built, install and operate two shared compost locations in urban areas: one in Bulgaria, Sofia by “Our Neighborhood” Association for Sustainable Practices and the second in Bucharest by Urban Cultor company is our mission. Our main goal is to create, adapt, transfer knowledge and raise awareness among citizens and municipalities about soil’s health in urban and periurban areas.

Composting is one of the solutions to the problems related to bio-waste treatment in the city. Composting is a natural process for managing bio-waste, giving it a second life by obtaining quality soil for our next crops. By treating bio-waste in situ, and therefore without carbon emissions linked to transport, it highlights the significant proportion of organic waste in our households and often results in a reduction in food waste for the people who participate in these actions (Short-term impact). 

In the absence of access to a garden, shared composting is an innovative solution with appropriate know-how. It creates spaces for social cohesion and cross-generational connections - adults, children and the elderly. It empowers local communities and encourages climate-friendly behaviour and lifestyles. Users will be fully autonomous in the management and treatment of its bio-waste (Long term impact).

Thanks to the "Food for the earth" pilot project funded by EIT Climate KIC, we are able to promote this type of installation, and produce it for all cities in Romania. At the moment we are working also with other community initiative groups (NGOs), such as the Baia Mare Food Bank which obtained funding (summer 2021) and another project for the orchard of the Tudor Arghezi National Museum in Bucharest. In the begining of 2022, we did the same kind of project for the "Incotroverzi" ONG in the sector

Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
community composting system
Spaces for social cohesion
Climate-friendly behavior
Healthy soil
Sense of accomplishment
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The city of Bucharest has been experiencing an unprecedented waste management crisis for several months. The public authorities must quickly find impact solutions to manage this crisis and make the city more virtuous and sustainable. This transition will take place with the support of the citizens and above all with their active participation in the life of the community.

A 'circular economy' model, which employs not only waste management, but reuse, recycling and responsible manufacture could support the development of new industries and jobs, reducing emissions and increasing efficient use of natural resources (including energy, water and materials).

Thanks to this project we have installed the first community composting area in Bucharest in sector 2.
We built the 3 wooden bins to receive the organic waste and transform it into compost on the spot (0 plastic)

Today we have about 30 registered people who regularly deposit their organic waste on this platform.

After almost 9 months, we have already processed almost 3m cubes of compost thanks to the mobilization of the inhabitants of the district and to our various animations on the spot 

The communication around this first shared composting platform has helped to develop a network of people wishing to develop this in their neighbourhood.

We have provided this type of wooden platform to several NGOs, in Bucharest but also in Baia Mare. The city hall of sector 3 of Bucharest has also asked us to install it in 3 primary schools and wishes to generalize it in all the schools quickly 

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

On this first platform we were also able to participate in the general improvement of the site, a green space between several apartment buildings.

To the 3 wooden compost bins, we added 2 wooden planters and we had a fresco painted on the walls around the composters 

Our main objective was to improve the visibility of the site to make it attractive for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. 

Before our intervention this area was almost abandoned. We have before and after photos which show the difference 

Information panels on the composters allow us to communicate, to raise awareness and to explain in a playful way the benefits of composting in an urban environment and to fight against the prejudices linked to composting ( smells ...) 

Several times during the year we held information meetings on site, to share our knowledge of good composting practice. 
We also have a Whatsapp group to keep each other informed about the activity on site. 

All this has allowed us to see the commitment of the participants and their voluntary involvement in this programme to improve their carbon footprint and their neighbourhood at the same time

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

This pilot project aimed to show that everyone can do something for the environment because everyone generates food waste! 

Thanks to the support of the Bucharest Sector 2 City Hall, we were able to get in touch with a neighbourhood association that volunteered to test our urban composting solution.

Many inhabitants quickly showed interest in the project. After a first information meeting, we gave each volunteer a free bio-bucket to collect the food waste and deposit it in the bins provided for this purpose.

The use of the wooden bins does not require any technical knowledge, this project is accessible to all because it is totally low-tech.

The choice to use wood is not an economic choice but an ecological one. Unfortunately, the price of raw materials has risen sharply in recent months, but we remain convinced that for aesthetic and natural reasons, wood remains the best solution for this type of installation. 

Today we see that the bins are filling up much faster than we had hoped at the beginning, we are happy that the neighbourhood is using this site to treat their organic waste and not the conventional circuit which leads to the incineration of this type of waste and all the negative impacts on global warming that we know.

In addition to this, the participants confirm that thanks to this project they have become aware of the volume of food waste in their households and try every day to reduce the proportion of food waste.

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

In our opinion, this project has made many people aware of the importance of food waste in their daily lives and the negative effects on the planet that it causes when it is badly treated 

This awareness is immediate, from the first day we start collecting our waste, everyone can do it, regardless of age, sex, social or cultural background ... and above all the effects are also immediate!

The volume of waste processed by conventional trucks is immediately reduced by almost 50%! The carbon impact of our actions is immediate 

In the education of selective sorting, food waste is too often forgotten because there is no real structure and organization to treat it in Romania. 

Our solution is installed in a few hours and the result is immediate  

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

Raising awareness about compost does several things: 
Awareness of the volume of waste we generate and its impact on the environment 
Awareness that this waste can be treated in a natural way as part of a circular economy

In today's urban environment, few people are aware of the benefits of compost and the techniques to do it well.

People are quickly discovering that this "waste" can actually be transformed naturally into a very good fertilizer for one's own garden or green plants at home and all this while improving one's carbon footprint. 

By seeing themselves what happens with their waste, the rise in temperature, the arrival of life in the tanks (micro organisms, bio diversity, earthworms ....) they regain contact with nature, become aware of its fragility but also its ability to regenerate 

Thanks to this awareness, the inhabitants of the district no longer see food scraps as waste to be disposed of but as a useful resource for their next harvest! 

Many of us in the city have noticed the impoverishment of the soil in our parks, the soil is dry and lifeless ... the compost is the opposite of that, it gives life to our gardens and parks in a natural way  

Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

Urban cultor is at the origin of the project.

We contacted the city halls to have the authorization to install our composters in a public place, finally we were directed towards a semi-public zone, i.e. managed jointly by the town hall and by the association of the owners of the residence. 

Once the authorization of these parties was obtained, we provided the composters, the material and we trained the inhabitants of the district to the use of the composters. 

Since then, we have been accompanying them in the management of their composting space. The objective is that they become autonomous and continue to develop the network of volunteers to treat even more waste in the weeks, months and years to come. 

The inhabitants of the area feel even more involved in the life of their neighborhood, it strengthens cohesion and knowledge of his neighbor, with a common goal: reduce our carbon impact and leave our children a greener planet!

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

Our biggest challenge is to convince society that food waste can be a resource and not a waste. 

That everyone can participate in the circular economy at their level. 

People living in cities are completely disconnected from nature and there is a strong demand from the new generation to recreate a link with nature and to preserve biodiversity. 

At our small scale we try to act every day for for that!  

Community-based organic waste treatment makes it possible to process leftover food locally, without polluting transportation across town. 
The compost will also be used locally, in the flowerpots or the gardeners of the inhabitants. 
This local processing system has an instant effect on our carbon footprint and opens the way to a new awareness of a more nature-friendly way of life. 

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

Our project of wooden compost bin is 100% lowtech and 100% natural
The innovation is to finally open the subject of biowaste treatment in Romania!
We use social networks to promote our solutions and compost in general. All the initiatives that will be taken in this field will be good to take. 
We plan to develop composting solutions on a larger scale, thanks to an electromechanical system, but this requires a lot of research and development that will take months or even years. 
We want to have an impact now on global warming so we are doing these two things in parallel 

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

Every day we transfer our knowledge on the subject of compost to our partners and customers. 
Our mission is, beyond the installation of composters, to transmit good practices and to make sure that they spread in the civil society! 
The more people who compost, the less waste will be incinerated 

Is an evaluation report or any relevant documentation available?
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