Thursday, May 17, 2012

For Immediate Release Contact: Mark Christman, University City District, 215-243-0555 or [email protected]

Dirt Factory logo

(Philadelphia, PA) – University City District (UCD), the West Philadelphia nonprofit economic development organization, is transforming a longstanding vacant lot at 4308 Market Street into The Dirt Factory, a new composting facility for the neighborhood. The Dirt Factory will transform food waste from neighborhood businesses into high quality organic compost, by combining it with the fallen leaves that cover West Philadelphia streets and sidewalks each fall. The public is invited to tour the new site at the grand opening celebration on the first day of summer, Wednesday, June 20 from 4-6pm. Complimentary food and drinks from Dock Street Brewing Co., Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and Four Worlds Bakery will be served along with live bluegrass music from Sour Mash.

The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of the lot’s owners, David P. Wilson, Jr. and Vincent P. DiPentino. The name for the facility was crowdsourced from among 86 creative suggestions submitted by community members, and the winners, Stephen Metzger and Carina Giamerese, will receive 6 months of free compost pickup by the Pedal Coop. The Pedal Coop, a University City business that collects compost and commercial recycling entirely by bicycle, will be delivering compostable material from University City residents and businesses to the site. Community members will also be able to drop their material off directly at the site. UCD hopes that the Dirt Factory will raise the profile of composting in University City and will enable households and businesses to compost that aren’t currently able to do so. This goal is in accord with UCD’s general aim of helping the neighborhood attain the Mayor’s goal of diverting 70% of solid waste from landfills by 2015.

"Thanks to UCD for their strong commitment to the City's sustainability goals," said Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia. "The Dirt Factory is a great example of how residents working at the neighborhood level can help Greenworks succeed at making Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these exciting new waste management and urban gardening resources." Seth Budick, UCD’s manager of policy and research, adds, “We’re extremely excited to be able to close the loop on waste right here in University City, by taking material that could otherwise end up in a landfill, and turning it into a valuable commodity that will be reused in the neighborhood – it’s really the essence of sustainability.”

The Dirt Factory will feature large “Earth Tub” composters with a capacity of 3,200 lbs of material, which are themselves recycled, having previously been used by the University of Pennsylvania for large scale composting. The site will also feature smaller, residential scale systems, demonstrating different methods of home composting. Finished compost will be available to community gardens and other neighborhood gardeners as it becomes available. The site will also feature raised bed planters where visitors will be able to see the impact of growing plants in a high quality organic growing medium. Educational events will occur throughout the summer, on topics ranging from home composting to urban soils and growing fruits and vegetables. More information including hours of operation will be available at

About University City District
University City District is a partnership of world-renowned anchor institutions, small businesses and residents that creates opportunity, improves economic vitality and quality of life in the University City area of West Philadelphia. UCD’s primary mission is community revitalization. UCD works within a place-based, data-driven framework to invest in world-class public spaces, address crime and public safety, bring life to commercial corridors, connect low-income residents to careers, and promote job growth and innovation. For more information visit