For over 40 years, City Famer Society has been educating people on the art of composting. So, are there any secrets? In my opinion, the key ingredient to turning organic waste into rich compost is "dry, fall leaves." All you have to do is remember to gather leaves once a year, typically towards the end of November, and store them in dry containers such as old garbage cans. 

At our demonstration gardens, we drive around the neighborhood in search of paper bags filled with leaves that residents have set out for city collection. Before taking any bag, we carefully inspect its contents to ensure that it contains small, dry leaves. In a short period of time, we accumulate enough leaves (carbon) to last the entire year. 

Whenever we add green material (nitrogen), such as lawn clippings, vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps, and garden trimmings to our bin, we incorporate a few handfuls of leaves. This creates a layered effect, resembling a sandwich, where leaves act as a constant source of carbon. 

In addition to providing carbon, leaves also introduce air (oxygen) into your compost pile. If you feel the need to improve aeration, you can occasionally poke the pile with a tool. 

Before adding your garden waste to the bin, it's advisable to cut it into small pieces. If the material is too thick, you can place it in your green bin for city pickup. Avoid adding weeds like bindweed that you don't want to re-emerge in your garden. 

Our composting method is known as "cold composting" because we continuously add material throughout the year. In contrast, "hot composting" requires having all the materials ready at once before constructing the pile. Within 6-8 months, your organic waste will undergo a magical transformation into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. 

Feel free to visit us at the Compost Garden to explore a variety of backyard bins that are resistant to rodents. We can also provide guidance on starting a worm composting system. 

For assistance or further information, please contact our Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250. 

About City Famer Society 

City Famer Society operates the City of Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden to educate people on the art of composting. We provide guidance on starting a worm composting system and finding backyard rodent-resistant bins. Visit City Farm Society online at or call our Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250.