Welcome to BioBag’s Community Heroes series! Each month, we will highlight community heroes that are making a difference in their communities and working to make their local environments cleaner and healthier.
This month, we are taking a look at SoDak Compost!
SoDak Compost was founded by Deirdre Appel after moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2021. She is a community gardener, works part-time at Cherry Rock Farms, and is a member of the Sioux Falls Co-Op and Dakota Rural Action. She received her Master of Global Policy Studies from the LBJ School at University of Texas at Austin in 2016. We spoke to her to learn a little more about her organization.
What led you to start your composting operation?
Appel: Upon moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota from Brooklyn, New York, I realized there was no way to continue recycling food scraps as I had been doing in New York City. Without access to a backyard, I was left with little options. After speaking with community members and seeing that there was a real demand for composting in Sioux Falls, despite its lack of existence, I decided I would start my own nonprofit and became the first community composting nonprofit in the state of South Dakota. Thanks to our amazing partners at IronFox Farms which host our compost bin system, we were able to collect our first banana peel in June 2022.
We offer a weekly drop off service where participants can swap their full bucket for a new clean, BioBag-lined bucket for the upcoming week. We also are active in the community and host workshops, lead classes, and offer volunteer opportunities for anyone looking to learn how to compost.
Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?
How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?
Appel: Though it has varied with the seasons (including pumpkins!) we average about 800 pounds of food scraps a week. Since starting in June 2022, we have collected 10,000 pounds of organic material. We are starting small but thinking big.
Please give us one fun fact about you or your business.
Appel: SoDak Compost is the only nonprofit organization working on community composting in South Dakota. We hope we are the start of a new trend throughout the entire state.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Appel: In December 2022, we both presented at the Sioux Falls Big River Sustainability Conference and composted the entire event. We made sure that no food scrap ended up in the landfill and swapped plastic utensils and plates for compostable products from VegWare.
As we head into 2023, we are seeking new sites to expand to and working with Community Gardens and other partners to create our second location.
In January 2022, we participated in the Emerging Composter Competition at the U.S Composting Council Conference in Austin, Texas. Although we did not win, we left energized and inspired to put our ideas into action. Four months later, we officially launched our operations and collected our first food scraps.
If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.