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  • How to get FREE Compost & Mulch in Philly marc-wilkens-andrew-viren-recycling-center Full view

    How to get FREE Compost & Mulch in Philly

    Did you know you can get FREE compost in Philadelphia?

    Ever wonder what happens with your leaves when you drop them off for recycling? They get shuttled to Fairmount Park’s Organic recycling center. In Fall 2015, a whopping 1,600 tons of leaves were recycled – saving the city $100,000.

    We took a field trip to see the center in full operation. Located at 3850 Ford Road, the Recycling Center is open year-round Monday-Friday from 7:30 AM – 3 PM, and Saturdays from April-October (only until 11:30 AM, however.).

    leaf recycling compost philadelphia recycling center fairmount park

    So how did I get a field trip here?  I hopped on the opportunity to see the operation this past Fall with a few guys from Parks and Recreation.

    philadelphia parks and recreation boys field trip

    So what did we learn from this excursion?

    get Free compost from fairmount park recycling center

    How does the composting work in West Fairmount Park? We made a video to help explain the process:

    free compost in philadelphia organic recycling center

    So what’s this compost composed of?

    “The compost consists of a blend of leaves and manure that is turned using a windrow machine to break down the pathogens. The finished compost is then screened through our screener to remove any remaining refuse and then that product is made available as a soil amendment,” according to Marc Wilken, Park Concessions Manager of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

    how you can score Free Mulch from fairmount park

    Trees turn into free mulch

    trees at organic recycling center philadelphia

    “The mulch is processed wood waste (brush and logs) that is either chipped at the park or rec site where the wood is removed or is processed at the recycling center, via our horizontal grinder,” according to Wilken. 

    BYOB for mulch:

    free mulch organic recycling center philadelphia

    How to get free compost, mulch & firewood from fairmount park:

    You simply get to the Recycling Center when it’s open and pick up your free compost, mulch & firewood. Just make sure you have a way to bring the materials back, whether that’s a bucket, bin or truck bed. If you go above the 30 gallon limits, there’s a small fee. More info on the Parks & Rec page.

    Employees monitors the system to sell and receive organic materials at the center, carefully weighing each vehicle for pricing.

    organics recycling center andrew

    Leaves dropped off from the Streets department go into pile, waiting to begin the compost process.

    leaf recycling philadelphia fairmount park

    Need wood? You can even pick up your free firewood from this pile. Camp time, anyone?!

    fairmount park recycling center free wood

    Of course, we can’t let a field trip go by without an obligatory cat photo:

    Fairmount Park organic recycling center cat


    Readers, did you know about Philadelphia’s hidden gem? Tell us in the comments.

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    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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