news - MARCH 2022
Healthy Compost | Beautiful Bins!
Alabama Sawyer designs modern, environmentally sustainable furniture and products for homes and businesses from fallen trees.
By Bill Hensley
PICTURE YOU ARE SITTING DOWN TO DINNER with family and friends. The meal progresses and you realize that everyone is leaving a sizable amount of their food on the plate. As the chef/host for the evening, you begin to wonder: Did something go wrong with the recipe? Did I miss a key ingredient, or apply too much spice? You look around the table and do a quick estimation that about 40 percent of the food you served is still on the plate. Is this normal?
Actually, yes. Almost 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted each year. This is huge and one of many behaviors that needs to change if we are going to thrive through the decades to come. And change can start at home. While many readers of this essay have gardeners who trim, mow, rake and fill up the green bin, the refrigerator vegetable drawer is a frequent source of food waste that can be put to work creating compost that can provide nourishment for the garden. And these no longer need to look like smelly eyesores that belong outside.
Now let’s take a little bird walk to the urban forest. When age catches up with a hardwood tree (or perhaps a windstorm knocks one down) what happens? If that tree is in the Birmingham, Alabama area it might take on a new life as the Noaway Countertop Walnut Wood Compost Bin. This little beauty is designed by Birmingham-based Alabama Sawyer. The company, run by founders Cliff Spencer and Leigh Spencer, designs modern, environmentally sustainable, and award-winning furniture and products for homes and businesses from fallen trees in the Birmingham area. The company has diverted hundreds of logs from the landfill by transforming them into furniture and accessories for residential and commercial settings.
The company transports the fallen trees to its facility where technicians cut the wood into slabs and dimensional lumber. The wood is dried as a two-step process which includes at least six months of open air drying followed by several weeks in a kiln. The dried wood then goes to Alabama Sawyer’s wood shop where each slab — depending on the wood type — is turned into a piece of furniture or unique home accessory.
Since the first Noaway Compost Bin was designed in 2013, composters around the world have been able to make their commitment to the environment a beautiful accessory to show off in the kitchen. The box is crafted from Birmingham-area walnut with a stainless-steel pan and lid. The walnut is not stained, just oiled and each is as unique looking as the tree from which it came. Simple and discreet, the wooden countertop container is a persistent gentle reminder to set aside those scraps — from morning coffee grounds and eggshells to evening carrot peelings and kale stems — for transfer into the garden compost box outside. It keeps food waste separate, helps our gardens stay healthy, and looks great on the countertop.
Of course, kitchen composting alone will not solve the problem of food waste, but it’s a step toward a healthier garden we can all take.