Fort Thomas and Forest Conservancy partner in composting program

Ever wonder where the leaves go after the city workers collect them? 

The City of Fort Thomas and the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy (FTFC) partnered on a unique program and now everyone in the Northern Kentucky area can reap the rewards. 

The city has been composting leaves from its annual leaf pickup on an FTFC property.  After four years, the leaf compost is now ready to return for garden use. From the beginning of the project, the intention was to return the product to the public as well as to the city and green organizations for use in public gardens and spaces.  

The board of directors of the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy envisioned this as a bold project to turn a perceived waste into a valuable product. The city agreed and a partnership was formed. 

Kevin Barbian, Fort Thomas director of general servicesKevin Barbian, Fort Thomas director of general services, says “The City has had a great partnership with the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy for the placement of city leaves.  The area provided allows us to place leaves in a strategic manner that allows for proper rotation for composting. We hope to continue this relationship that will ultimately benefit not only our environment, but local agencies and residents.” 

This green initiative benefits all gardeners and landscapers with free leaf compost. Trisha Schroeder, FTFC board member says, “What a valuable resource this adds to the city. “

Garden websites encourage the use of leaf compost because it is nutrient rich.  Mix it with a little soil or sand or sprinkle the compost over your landscape gardens to further enrich the soil as well as lessen the strain on landfills. Compost serves as a top dressing on garden beds too. 

Here's how it works:

  • The leaf compost is free to everyone.
  • It is self-service so bring your shovel, buckets, or a truck and take as much as you want.
  • There is no limit.
  • Drive up to the piles, load up, and take it home.
  • Make as many visits as you like.
  • The supply can be replenished. 

The compost is located in Tower Park behind the Natural Start Pre-School. Enter the River Road entrance for easy access to the material.

More resources about community composting:

Learn more about the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy at or on Facebook. 

Boutique approach to household local composting in select communities in Ohio and Kentucky doing good work with kitchen scraps. 

4 reasons whevery city should operate a compost program.

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Read more articles by Chuck Keller.

Chuck Keller is a former educator and columnist working now as a community organizer for social and environmental concerns. He enjoys coffee, conversation, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, gardening, and relaxing under a good tree.