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What is “Trenching” and How Does it Reduce Food Waste?

Do you have food waste but no place to put it? Instead of putting it in the garbage and sending it to the landfill, perhaps try “trenching” as an option. We worked with volunteers and trenched food waste directly into the ground using extra buckets of Bokashied food scraps from Solana Center’s Food Cycle program. The result: healthy soil.

“Trenching” is the act of burying organic waste directly into the ground as an alternative method to traditional, above-ground composting. 

Turns out, it’s easy! Dig a trench or hole about 12 inches deep in an empty space in your yard. Add about 4-6 inches of compostable materials such as a Bokashied bucket or other ready-to-compost food waste and bury them with the soil you dug out of the trench or hole. 

Advantages of trenching include: 

  1. Adding nutrients directly to where the plants need it, at the root zone, benefits plants in two ways: 1) plants are nourished from the organic matter in the trench, and 2) plants benefit from a deep, strong root system.  If you are enriching the areas around trees, you’ll want to dig the trench outside the drip line of the tree. 

  2. Unlike traditional composting, there is no need to add yard waste.

  3. There is no need for aeration and/or turning the pile AND no need to dig it up. Meaning, once food scraps are in the ground and covered, there is no more work to be done.  

  4. Once covered, the food waste does not produce an odor. Trenching eliminates concern from neighbors and landlords who are sensitive to smell. Even the stinkiest of kitchen scraps won’t have a detectable scent when buried 5-7 inches underground. For this same reason, animals will not be attracted to it. 

  5. The food waste decomposes underground and adds nutrients back into the soil. After 2-3 weeks of “trenching” food scraps, you can plant directly on top of the nutrient-rich soil. (After 5 weeks, you can dig up the nutrient-rich soil and use it in other areas.)

  6. It is nearly invisible! One of the best things about trenching is that it does not take up any extra space or have a  displeasing aesthetic.

*Pro tip: It is advised that you bokashi your food waste before trenching it to enhance positive microbial growth. Want to learn more? Visit our Bokashi page. Not sure if you have the right tools to get started? Visit our tool borrowing shed