De-Mystifying the Urban Composting Process with Stewart Martin

by Emily Kloeblen

I met Stewart Martin of Providence Gardenworks last summer when he came to prune my trees. He noticed my compost bin and inquired about my experience composting. I admitted that I had taken on composting as a pandemic project and was not very confident in my composting abilities, as evidenced by the flies swarming around my bin. After spending an hour with Stewart for a dedicated composting consultation, I realized that my setup needed an overhaul. I contracted with Stewart to install my animal-proof system last Fall and became a student of his composting process. 

Stewart has become a trusted resource that is fully committed to my composting success, often stopping by on his walks around the neighborhood to check on my compost and to give it an extra mix. Following his guidance has greatly improved my results and sparked my passion for reducing my environmental footprint through composting. If you are interested in composting, I highly recommend a consult with our neighborhood composting guru!

What motivated you to master the art and science of composting?

I have been composting and gardening for years at home. The realization gradually dawned on me that this process was so important for our environment I began to refine it and put a business together. I’ve stuck with it all these years –19 and counting– because it’s so necessary environmentally and so darn satisfying. I feel like I’m making a positive difference in the world. In the twenty years that we’ve lived on the East Side, we haven’t contributed so much as a scrap of food waste to the Providence waste stream. Just our efforts alone –one household– has diverted 14 tons of food waste from the landfill and created 20 cubic yards of compost, for our local gardens. Both our vegetable and perennial gardens are thriving.

Why should anyone consider composting?

Anyone who gives a wit about the environment should be thinking about composting. The impact of methane produced by food waste putrefying in our landfill is staggering. Many people don’t realize that methane is 30x stronger than CO2 as a heat-trapping gas and that the average American family wastes nearly one-third of all the food they buy. Composting is well within the realm of ‘I can do this.’ It’s a simple, yet powerful way we can take action to reduce our environmental impact and produce a useful substance, technically referred to as a ’soil amendment’, for our gardens.

What are the most important considerations when starting to compost in an urban environment like Providence?

Having the right setup and learning how to do it correctly are the most important considerations. I’ve seen many failed composters littering the urban landscape because people get information from the internet that doesn’t thoroughly explain the involved how-tos of the process. They gave up in frustration. This does not need to be the case.

How difficult is it for someone to get started?

It’s relatively easy to get started once you have the right setup and begin to understand the process. It is, however, a process that needs to be followed. Like anything else one may care about, composting requires one’s focus and attention.

What are typical misconceptions about composting?

It smells and attracts animals. It’s hard to do during the winter months. Too much compost will be created to actually use.

These issues are easy to avoid. More brown matter and adequate aeration/mixing alleviates the formation of volatile compounds, which produces unwanted odors. Composting during the winter months is also an easy affair. Where you place the bin is key. As far as making too much compost; everyone has a few shrubs, trees, and neighbors to give any extra compost to. I have yet to meet anyone who could not find a use for their compost.

Three key tips:

  1. Make sure you have enough brown/carbon on hand. The process depends on it. The general ratio is 3 parts brown (leaves) to 1 part green (food scraps).
  2. Mix/aerate regularly. This is an aerobic process. The bacteria depend on this to thrive.
  3. Cut food into pieces which; promotes quicker composting. Doing this also provides more surface area for the bacteria.

Why did you start Providence Gardenworks?

Because I realized my experience composting in an urban environment was of real value to our community, city, and environment, and wanted to share it. Unfortunately, our city and the state government have failed to address this critically important, burgeoning problem. However, the good news is solutions are well within the abilities of all Rhode Island residents and municipalities. 

What types of services do you provide?

We teach, train, and inspire urban dwellers to compost all their food waste on-site and garden in any full sun space they may have. We provide consultative services to existing composters to improve their process and turnkey services installing new composters, which includes on-going training and technical support. We also provide pruning services for ornamental and fruit trees.

If someone wants to consult with you, how should they get in touch?

For more information please go to our website or contact me directly. Thank you so much.

Stewart Martin-

Summit Crime Watch: Call for Block Captains

The neighborhood Crime Watch group is making a call for Block Captains.  Ultimately, this is a way we can help reduce crime in our neighborhood.  Can you be your block’s captain?  Can you forward this to the person who can?

Here is the website:

From Monica Anderson, neighborhood liason for Miriam Hospital and Crime Watch leader:

The Crime Watch of Summit Neighborhood (CRWSN) needs you!

Formed in 2009, CRWSN has surveyed neighbors, created a website, logo, and mission statement.  We  have a draft set of by-laws and are working on becoming a non-profit organization and we have held trainings and informational sessions with the police and other Crime Watch Organizations in Rhode Island.

The next step to effectively launch the CRWSN is to create a network of Block Captains within The Summit Neighborhood.  The Block Captain program is the most important next step to help make Summit a safer place to live.   Block Captains hold a meeting with neighbors on their street and serve as the central liaison for information sharing.  Block Captains then relay information back to the Crime Watch organization.

Below is an outline of the role of Block Captain. Block Captains are friendly ambassadors willing to hold a meeting or two and help get their street organized.  The role requires a little work up front, but the shared concern of neighbors looking out for one another on a regular basis eases the overall requirement of the position.

If you are interested in being a Block Captain and need assistance in setting up your first “block/street” meeting, please contact Monica Anderson by calling (401) 793 4040. The CRWSN provides support to Block Captains in the form of helping create and copy fliers for their meetings, providing educational materials, and by placing a notice on the CRWSN website.  We can even provide you with the names of people on your block who have already expressed interest in helping on their street.

The next Crime Watch of Summit Neighborhood Meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 20th at 6:00 p.m. at The Miriam Hospital Sopkin Auditorium.

Block Captain Responsibilities:

1.Ensure your group meets at least twice a year by coordinating the meetings, cookouts, block parties, etc. and report the meeting dates to the CRWSN President or Vice President.

For more information, please call Monica Anderson at 793 2120.

2. Educate your block on what suspicious activity is, and how and when to report it.

Be the central person whom neighbors call when they have a NON-Emergency, a question, or a non-emergency concern.  Be sure that you educate everyone on your block to call the police if they see any suspicious occurring.

3. Develop a block map and roster for your group that includes names, addresses, and phone numbers and e-mails for each group member.  Telephone trees can help expedite emergency information among your neighbors.  Develop a neighborhood chart that includes the names and phone numbers of all members.  Ensure that each individual listed on the tree knows whom he is to contact should emergency or other important information need to be disseminated in a hurry.  Develop an alert plan reflecting the name and phone number of each household – e-mail distribution list or phone tree for notification of suspicious activity.

4. Greet new neighbors and invite them to join the program

5. Inform and distribute to group members any crime related information received from the police department.

6. Keep a record of break-ins, vandalism, graffiti, and/or any activity that becomes a concern for you and your neighbors. Provide this type of information to neighbors at your next block meeting.

7. Be the liaison between your “Block” and the CRWSN.  Attend meetings, as you are able.

8. Attend one of the Block Captain training modules offered throughout the year.

9. Gather and share information

Knowing your neighbors’ basic habits and belongings will help you to recognize unusual or suspicious activities. Basic information you might exchange includes:

-Home and work phone numbers

-Number, ages and identify family members

-Work hours

-School hours of children

-Number and types of automobiles

-Who has dog(s)?

-Planned vacations or visitors

-Scheduled deliveries or repairs

-Any other helpful information

10. Encourage neighbors to advise you concerning criminal activity. Your position as a Block Captain does not give you any law enforcement authority. You are the person who facilitates the unity of the group, disseminates information, and coordinates activities.

Group Members Responsibilities:

  1. Be alert to suspicious activities in your neighborhood.

  1. Notify Block Captain if your contact information changes.

  1. Learn neighbors’ names and be able to identify their vehicles and other vehicles usually in your neighborhood.

  1. Keep an up to date block map, roster, and other important group information in an accessible and secure location.

  1. Implement security measures suggested by your CPO or Block Captain.

  1. Notify police and block captain of any suspicious activity.

  1. DO NOT TAKE ANY PERSONAL RISK to prevent a crime or execute an arrest.  It is more important to have a healthy, injury free witness whose recollection of the incident is not tainted by fear, anxiety, or pain.  The safety and well being of every person in the group is most important.

  1. Attend the “Block” meetings.

Representative from RIPTA to discuss potential new bus route in Summit

A representative from RIPTA will attend the next SNA Board meeting to hear our neighbors’ thoughts and answer questions on the proposed new bus route in Summit.

If you took part in the survey we posted, or if you have other thoughts, concerns, suggestions, or questions, please come present them on Monday, December 13.  The meeting will begin at 6:30pm with regular business, and the RIPTA representative is on the agenda to start at 7pm.  Regular meeting business will continue after.

The meeting will be held at Summit Commons (99 Hillside Ave) in the cafe (not the main dining room).  Enter in the front entrance, go right after the front desk and the cafe is on your left.

Here is some info on the subject, with comments below.

Hope you can make it!

Gas meter hearing tomorrow, Weds, Feb. 11, 4:30

This just in from our friends at West Broadway Neighborhood Association,which has spearheaded work to prevent National Grid from forceably installing ugly exterior gas meters on the fronts of our homes. If you care about your curb appeal, check this out.

Hello fellow neighborhood groups,
I plan to call you all individually but in the interest of the time sentivity of this issue, I send this email first.

Representative Costantino has just informed the West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) that THIS Wednesday, 2/11/09, at 4:30PM in Room 203, RI State House, the House Committee on Corporations will hold a hearing on H5088. See the bill here. This is the legislation to protect Rhode Island homes against visually-intrusive exterior gas meter locations. Many of you are aware of this issue and the damage it can do to historic and non-historic homes in every corner of RI (National Grid’s plans for gas meter relocation applies to all of RI and goes beyond the West Side of Providence). Undoubtedly, National Grid will be there in full force with lawyers et all, which makes it all the more imperative that the people of RI bring out a larger crowd to speak to the importance of passing this legislation.

We appreciate that you share our concern for this issue and ask that you:
1) come on Wednesday and testify
2) sent an email to your friends, neighbors, and other groups who would care about this issue.
Representative Costantino emphasized the importance of having a large crowd of people from throughout the state.
3) let us know if you plan on coming

For your information the legislation is attached. Having someone from your organization at the hearing to testify would make an impact. Thank you!
Kari Lang and Jessica Jennings

House Committee on Corporations Hearing on H5008, the legislation to protect historic homes against visually intrustive exterior gas meter locations
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 4:30 PM
RI State House, Room 203
Please help spread the word across Rhode Island! RIers come out to testify in favor of H5088

Kari Lang, WBNA

Miriam moves date of parking meeting

Miriam Hospital has moved the date of the neighborhood Parking Meeting (see below) to April 19 to avoid conflicts with public meetings on the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The hospital has provided this schedule of upcoming events:

Landscaping Meeting

Tuesday, April 17th 6:30-8:30pm in the Fain Building second floor Lecture Hall.

This meeting is being held solely to discuss the landscaping that will accompany the completion of the new Clinical Services Building.

Please call 401 793 4040 to RSVP your attendance at this meeting.

Neighborhood Parking Meeting

Please join us on April 19th at 6:30pm at the Rochambeau Library Community Room to discuss issues related to parking.  The Miriam Hospital has hired Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc as parking consultants to help us plan for our future parking needs in an effort to reduce hospital parking that affects the neighborhood.

Representatives from the firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) will lead this meeting.  Members of The Miriam Hospital Parking Committee will also be present.

Neighborhood Tree Planting

Our newest and leafiest members of the neighborhood will be planted on Friday, April 27th.  New trees are being placed on sections of Third, Seventh and Eighth Streets beginning at 9am on that Friday.  Please call Monica Anderson @ 401 793 4040 if you are available to lend a helping hand!


Questions or comments?

Please call the Miriam Hospital Neighborhood Hotline at 401 793 4040 or email us at


Miriam wants resident input on parking

Miriam Hospital has invited residents to a meeting on parking issues on Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 in the Fain Building on Fifth St (2nd floor lecture room). The meeting is part of a traffic study being conducted by consultants as a condition of Miriam’s approved master plan.

Officials from the Providence Police and the Providence Department of Planning and Development will be there as well.

Miriam treated more than 100,000 patients, including inpatients, emergency room visitors and outpatients in 2005, all but a very few arriving by car. A staff of more than 2,200, plus 800 or more affiliated doctors, must also come and go. With the current expansion and created a planned future growth in emergency room capacity, we can expect hospital parking needs to increase in the years ahead.

January crime report for Summit

The Summit Neighborhood Association checked-in recently with Lt. Sciavulli of our Community Police Station—District 8 to learn if there were any trends or recent concerns  for which we should be alert.
Following the [despicable] tire slashing at the end of December, crime appears to have moderated in January in sub-district 8-3 (largely the Summit area) with two exceptions: There were three robberies. Two of these robberies were at the Hess gas station, allegedly by the same person. This person was arrested. Additionally there were 10 larcenies from motor vehicles (these occur on the street and in driveways) as pocket-change and electronic devices out in the open entice the criminals.
Here is the Providence Police crime report for Subdistrict 8-3 for January 1 through January 28: (more…)

Keep car items out of sight, police advise

This Tuesday, Sept. 5, James Kelley spoke with Lt. Schiavulli of our Community Police Station–District 8 on behalf of Summit Neighborhood Association to learn if there are any trends or recent concerns that may need extra precautions for which we should be alert. Jim will continue to be SNA’s contact for news from District 8, which you will see posted here and in Summit News from time to time.

There are three parts of Police District 8, which ranges from the Pawtucket line to Olney St, and from Blackstone Blvd. to Interstate Route 95

Despite a shooting on Pleasant St., District 8 remains a low crime area of the city. Year-to-date, through September 5, violent crime is down 50%, property crime is down 49%, and all other crime is down 18%. Noteworthy is that the rash “break and grab” from motor vehicles is down significantly. The Lieutenant. hopes that people are heeding the advice to keep items left in cars out of plain view. This is particularly important as we approach the holiday season.

Please follow the link for detailed neighborhood crime data for the last month and year to date. (more…)