Community Composting

Community Composting Group Fünfhaus


Community Composting


Members of the community composting group collect their organic waste and compost it together. In introductory workshops, practical care activities for the compost and exchange meetings they learn about composting and its backgrounds. In the end they harvest the compost together, share it and use it as fertiliser for their plants at home or in urban gardening activities.

1. Organisation hosting the activity


Community Composting Group Fünfhaus

Legal status

Non formal group

Year of establishment



Markgraf-Rüdiger-Straße opposite No 5, 1150 Vienna

Community Composting in Fünfhaus was initiated by Gartenpolylog in 2020 with the aim to create consciousness about resource cycles and composting in the neighbourhood, to involve people in composting who do not have a garden and to enhance encounter among neighbours. The composting facility is placed in an alley between walkway and street in a rather diverse and economically poor district of Vienna. Since August 2011, it is run by an independent group of neighbours. Still Gartenpolylog is the contracting party for the land usage agreement. 

The community composting project was planned as an educational activity itself. First introductions in composting took place in autumn 2020. The composting activities are suitable to raise consciousness about natural cycles and the value of “waste”. Being active in composting themselves, the participants get the feeling that they can contribute something to the change we need.

The activities were well funded for the first 18 months through a funding scheme for social innovation of the City of Vienna and the establishment of the group as well as the educational activities could be carried out in a proper and well organised way. The borough major as well as the Urban renewal office were very supportive in establishing the activity.

2. Activity detailed description

The activity consists of establishing a composting facility, forming a compost group and transferring knowledge about composting through regular composting, workshops and community compost care activities.

All participants (30 households) got an introduction on composting and some participated in further workshops. All participants bring their organic waste to the compost facility and control the compost. 5-10 members meet every few months to turn over the compost and take care of the right conditions. At these occasions the composting process is also analysed and the results are communicated to the other members e.g. what was found inside that decomposes very slowly or not at all, what becomes mouldy, humidity,… Every half a year the group can harvest the compost and use it as fertiliser for their flower pots, balconies and urban gardening activities.

Concerning training needs the trainer has to have good knowledge of composting and how to transfer knowledge and skills of composting to the compost group and the interested public. Furthermore the trainer has to have experience in facilitation of group processes and establishing organisational structures together with a group. How to promote the activity is an additional skill that is helpful.

When looking for a site and acquiring participants it was very helpful to be in touch with several organisations in the district – youth organisations, churches, the garden department and the streets department of the city of Vienna as well as the neighbourhood management organisation. The group also engages in activities in the neighbourhood and is in touch with different organisations like food coops or the district museum to promote the topic.

Especially among the composting group knowledge, skills and consciousness for composting and its value have risen. Through workshops and regular activities concerning the care for the compost  they have learned a lot about the process and its impact  on the environment. The composting also has an impact on other neighbours and passers-by. Whenever there is an activity at the compost site it induces dialogue about the topic.

Although the facility is placed in a diverse district this is not reflected in the composition of participants who are mostly middle aged to older, have a higher formal education and German as their first language. Although information material was produced in 5 different languages this did not create diversity in the group. Direct contact with different communities – as planned originally – was not possible due to the pandemic. To search for this contact and present the idea in different community meetings might serve to reach these target groups.

Implementation steps

  • 1. Finding a suitable site

    1.1 Walks in the area where the compost facility shall be established and mapping of possible sites
    1.2 Presentation to the authority responsible for the sites or if private to the owner and checking whether the establishment of the facility is possible in the proposed sites Note: it might be necessary to propose different sites to find on that will be agreed upon. Regular exchange with the different responsibles is needed
    Choice of a site
    Negotiations for usage conditions and making a contract with the responsibles

  • 2. Promotion of the activity

    2.1 Defining a date for a first information meeting
    2.2 Design of invitations in relevant languages
    Spreading of invitations through suitable channels e.g. local social media networks, poster at black boards in the surrounding houses, direct mailing in the neighbourhood, poster at the site
    Carrying out the information meeting – either directly at the site – as in our case – or indoor in a public space nearby
    Collecting contact details of potential participants

  • 3. Establishment of the facility

    3.1 We had planned to build the composting containers together with the participants but due to the pandemic were forced to order them at a carpenters which caused higher costs but less work. In both cases it is important to design and build containers that are stable and suitable for public spaces. The containers have to be easy to open at one side to enable turning over of the composted material. The possibility to lock them is prerequisite.
    3.2 Design and creation of signboards for each of the containers (what takes place in which container) and one signboard that explains the whole composting facility

  • 4. Introduction in composting for the participants

    4.1 Carrying out an introductory workshop explaining what composting is, how it works and what can be composted and what not
    Creating information material on how to compost in relevant languages
    Giving out the information material to all participants

  • 5. Further facilitation of the compost group

    5.1 Regular workshops on the backgrounds of composting including analysis of the composting process on site (every 2 months during the first year) and care taking for the compost (turn over and harvest)
    5.2 Regular group meetings to enable exchange among group members (can be combined with the workshops)
    Answering questions concerning the compost whenever they occur – might be from members as well as other neighbours and passers-by – online and on site

  • 6. Handover to the group

    6.1 The group learns all the tasks that have to be done during this first phase of one year.
    6.2 In a meeting the group discusses all the tasks that have to be done and participants decide who takes over which task. 2 compost masters take over the task of supervision and have a closer look on the process of composting. Others become responsible for communication, organising meetings, buying material and keeping the finances of the group.
    The group still meets 3-4 times a year for discussion and organisational tasks and as often as necessary for care taking activities.

3. Gallery

4. Conclusions

Through the activity, the group of users reduced their non separated waste. As all the produced compost is used directly in the neighbourhood as fertiliser resource cycles are more closed than before and transport of material – waste and soil and fertiliser – could be reduced. There is as well a positive impact concerning the use of soil for urban gardening. Soil that is usually bought and often contains peat can be replaced by refreshing the “old” soil with compost.

The activity raises consciousness of resource cycles and proper waste management not only among users but also among neighbours who are not directly involved. Installed in a public place it is suitable to reach many different people.

As the space needed is very small (3-4m²) it is rather easy to replicate the activity. It only needs some knowledge about composting, some people who want to engage and material to build the containers. The activity could already induce one similar project in a different district and also influenced the development of community worm composting in Vienna. The facility can be used as a demonstration site.

Advice / Recommendation

“I think it is important that the responsibilities are clear and well shared. So there is someone who is the compost master and can be asked all questions concerning the compost and someone collects money and buys material if needed".

- Participant of the compost group
“I think it is good if the containers are financed through funding not to exclude anyone because of a financial contribution”.