Composting with Kids: Johnson County’s Garbage to Garden Project

Children are our future and that’s why teaching them about being good stewards of our earth is so important! Composting teaches kids about being responsible for the waste they generate and the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable items—yay, science! Where do apple cores go once they leave their lunch box? Where do the onion peels go once we are finished with them in the kitchen? Instead of sitting in a trash bag and being carted off by the trash man each week to a landfill somewhere, our everyday scraps can be broken down into beautifully nutrient-rich soil for our flower beds, yard or garden.

As a family, we’ve decided to dive in and take part in the newly formed Grounds to Garden initiative by the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District. This free initiative delivers a collection bucket for participating households to store their compostable items, like egg shells, banana peels, fruit peels, cores, and rinds; vegetable scraps and even shredded paper towel tubes or cardboard egg cartons and bits of paper towel and paper, for the week. Ours arrived this Monday! Free weekly curbside compost collection service comes by to retrieve the bucket each Friday at 8:00 A.M. Our last pickup day of the fall season will be November 3, 2017. Compost typically goes fairly dormant in the winter as everything freezes and slows the breakdown process. However, we will continue to compost with our own backyard bin all throughout the year.

Our kiddos already love to help in the kitchen, cracking eggs into the batter and peeling fruit. They can help put things into the compost bin and after eating their apples, they know where to throw the cores (not the trash!). When we add some cardboard to balance out the green/brown combination of items they get a kick out of shredded up the paper towel tubes or cutting them up into tiny pieces. So many ways to involve the kiddos so they learn along the way too!

The project is open to Greenwood and Whiteland residents in Johnson County. Registration for this round ended last Friday, but keep your eyes peeled on their websiteFacebook page, and Twitter as this project grows and expands to include more! Or venture out and start your own backyard bin and have garden soil ready come spring!

What can be composted?

  • Kitchen scraps (take off stickers and rubber bands): egg shells, fruit that is past its prime, whatever vegetable or lettuce that may have sat too long in your crisper drawer, etc.
  • Brown leaf litter
  • Coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea bags

What CANNOT be composted?

  • bread products
  • dairy products
  • meat, fish, oils

For more information at the Johnson County Garbage to Garden Project please call (317) 736-9540 ext. 101 or email The Johnson County SWCD also provides free education for classrooms and other youth groups. If you are interested in a presentation or would like to discuss how the SWCD can help you, please contact our Education Coordinator at or (317) 736- 9540 Ext. 101.

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