ESB: El Sol Brillante 522-528 E 12th St. — DEG: Down to Earth Garden 546 E 12th St.

* We are accepting public food waste drop-offs, but on a limited basis. During open hours and whenever the garden is open:

  • Open Hours

    Updated September 15, 2023

    Tuesdays 1:30 pm – 4 pm
    Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm

    Food Waste Drop-off: all year.
    —We accept all food waste, incl. meats, bones, dairy, seafood, raw, cooked, oyster and clam shells, coconut shells, etc. We also take brown paper bags, egg cartons, and compostable bowls, cups, and utensils.
    When bringing plant matter, please keep them separate from the food waste.
    Leaf Drop-off: all year.
    —We accept leaves, plant discards, tree branches, and unused potted soil ALL YEAR ROUND.

  • 12/4/2021 (Sat) Added Saturdays 2 – 4 pm (now 3 days per week, garden open for food waste drop-off); The Large DSNY orange sign, “Public Food Scrap Drop-Off,” only shown during the drop-off hours; signage with the Drop-Off Hours are posted on the gate.
  • 11/20/2021 (Sat) Since 1 or 2 occasional bags of food scraps found on the ground right inside the gate, began placing a rat-proof gray bin by the gate on the inside so people can drop off bagged food waste through the gap between the gate. But no signage about it is posted.
  • 9/22/2021 (Wed) We’re back on DSNY Sanitation’s map of NYC Food Scrap Drop-Off Sites. See their Drop-off Composting webpage:
  • 7/8/2021 (Thu) [Posted 7/6/2021] Added Thursdays 3:30 – 6 pm (2 days per week).
  • 5/4/2021 (Tue) Began public drop-off, but only Tuesdays 1:30 – 3:30 pm.
  • Limited composting of garden members food waste only.
  • 3/22/2020 (Sun) Completely shut down food waste collection from the public due to the pandemic.
  • 3/20/2020 (Fri) Last pickup by DSNY Sanitation (we diverted to them about 40% of our dropped off food waste).
  • 11/14/2018 (Wed) First pickup by DSNY Sanitation (giving them part of our drop-offs); Large DSNY orange sign, “Public Food Scrap Drop-Off,” posted on the gate, and our site could now be found online on DSNY’s map of drop-off locations.
  • 9/22/2009 (Tue) Began a 24-hour food waste drop-off until 3/22/2020.
    See graph below of amount of food waste collected since 2009.
  • Open Hours
    Updated September 15, 2023 Tuesdays 1:30 pm – 4 pm Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm Food Waste Drop-off: all year. —We accept all food waste, incl. meats, bones, dairy, seafood, raw, cooked, oyster and clam shells, coconut shells, etc. We also take brown paper bags, egg cartons, and compostable bowls, cups, and utensils. When …
  • Public Food Waste Drop-Off April-October 2022
    From April 1 to October 31: (Updated drop-off hours will be provided for November 1 – March 31.) Tuesdays 1:30 – 4 pm Thursdays 3:30 – 6 pm Saturdays 1 – 4 pm Sundays 2 – 4 pm For other food scraps drop-off sites, visit DSNY- Drop-off Composting.
  • Public Food Waste Drop-Off Sept 2021-March 2022
    When the garden is open:  Tuesdays 1:30 – 3:30 pm Thursdays 3:30 – 6 pm Saturdays 2 – 4 pm For other food scraps drop-off sites, visit DSNY- Drop-off Composting.

Composting Update:
See quantity (graph) for 2020 below (updated 4/3/2021, 4:15 pm).

In order to expand our hours for accepting food waste from the public, we need to have enough volunteers each committed to one day a week*.

We’re looking to build up a pool of 14 or more volunteers, as well as, Sanitation (DSNY) to begin their organics pickup, before we can consider a 24-hour drop-off again.

*Volunteers can either double up on a day with others (working together or one doing early in the day and the other late in the day) or be flexible and be able to cover days that others can’t make (with advance notice).

The main activity of volunteers would be to treat the food waste that were dropped off (an orientation would be provided). The activity can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on how much food waste has been dropped off.

Other activities (which may occur once or twice a month) that volunteers can help with (no commitment necessary) include trenching or composting the treated food waste, sifting ready-to-use compost, and other general garden activities.

If you are interested in volunteering, see

Drop-off Tue & Thu

7/6/2021. Public food waste drop-off hours added:
Tuesdays 1:30 – 3:30 pm;
Thursdays 3:30 – 6 pm.
See Notice (sign on the left).
See Post (sign on the right).

Drop-off Tuesdays

5/4/2021. Initial public food waste drop-off with only 2 hours a week:
Tuesdays 1:30 – 3:30 pm.

3/22/2020. Our 24-hour food waste drop-off completely closed to the public on March 22, 2020 (Sunday). DSNY (Sanitation) picked up the last batch of food waste (a portion of what we receive) on March 20, 2020 (Friday). Also, our pool of volunteers went from 11 people to only 3 who were willing to continue during that last week before March 22.

Composting System of Two Community Gardens Combined

Down to Earth Garden (formerly Children’s Garden), 546 E 12th St, 1261 sq ft, a GreenThumb community garden, with a 24-hour food waste drop-off setup*.

And El Sol Brillante, 522-528 E 12th St, 10324 sq ft (0.24 acre), a Land Trust community garden, where food waste can be dropped off (at the back of the garden) whenever the garden is open (i.e., a garden member is there)*.

Garden Name Change 7/1/2020

Note. Our garden changed its name on July 1, 2020. The following is information on our composting activity before then and refers to our garden by its previous name, Children’s Garden.

From 9/22/2009 to 3/22/2020

The Children’s Garden began doing the bokashi method of composting in the fall of 2009 and became a food waste drop-off site from 2010 until the pandemic forced the closure of the drop-off setup on March 22, 2020.

In November 2018, our community garden became a public food scrap drop-off site through DSNY (NYC Dept of Sanitation). So, people could find our drop-off site online (link at end of this paragraph), and DSNY began picking up part of our dropped-off food waste on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Most of the food waste is processed (fermented) at the garden, and then used to amend the soil or to produce compost for the gardens and the community (non-garden members can request for some of the compost and amended soil). By the end of 2019, we collected 10.82 tons for the year (combined collection for both gardens: El Sol Brillante and the Children’s Garden); 6.16 tons were bokashi-treated in garden, and the rest, 4.66 tons, were given to DSNY to be composted by them (see graph below).
Link: NYC Food Scrap Drop-Off Locations [El Sol Brillante-Children’s Garden, 546 E 12th St]

Before November 2018, our 24-hour food waste drop-off location was not publicized since its start in 2010. People found out about our drop-off site either by word of mouth, by those who took our workshops, or if they passed by the garden and noticed the drop-off setup.

Initially, from Nov 14, 2018 (Wed), we’ve been putting about 5 to 15 lbs of food waste in DSNY’s brown bin (and later, filling it up, ~50+ lbs, more often) for pickup 3 times a week. We were at that time getting roughly 30-40 lbs and sometimes more of food waste a day. By June 2019, with an increase in dropped off food waste, we requested additional brown bins; from June 10, 2019, we had 3 brown bins on hand. By March 5, 2020 we added another two of DSNY’s brown bins.


  • (September 2020, need enough volunteers as part of assessing whether to open the drop-off to the public again.)
  • March 22, 2020, drop-off is closed down completely.
  • March 20, 2020, DSNY Sanitation picks up last batch of food waste.
  • March 5, 2020, received two more brown bins (5 total); requested from DSNY on Feb 14, 2020 since the amount of drop-off continued to increase. The extra brown bins allowed us the option to give more to Sanitation pickup (Mon, Wed, and Fri) beyond what our number of volunteers can process. From March 6, 2020 (Fri) through March 20 (Fri), we were putting out 3 brown bins (of the 5) for Sanitation pickup, except one time, 4 bins, but the 4th was less than 1/2 filled.
  • June 10, 2019, received two additional brown bins (3 total), and began using 2 brown bins and occasionally 3 brown bins for Sanitation pickup.
  • November 2018, Children’s Garden became a public food scrap drop-off site.
  • 2010, started 24-hour food waste drop-off for the community at the Children’s Garden (however, did not publicize/advertise the drop-off until November 2018 via DSNY’s online map).
  • Food waste drop-off available to the community at El Sol Brillante (only when the garden is open, i.e., when a garden member is present).
  • Fall 2009, bokashi composting method began at both community gardens (El Sol Brillante and the Children’s Garden).
  • September 17, 2009, first bokashi workshop at El Sol Brillante community garden.

Below are graphs and data of the amount of food waste we’ve processed at both community gardens combined.

Quantity of food waste diverted by both gardens combined

tons per year 2020
Avg per month 2020

In 2020, public drop-off was only from 1/1/2020 until 3/22/2020 (Jan-Mar).
For the rest of the year (Apr-Dec), food waste/composting was restricted to garden members only.

Bear bins = bear-proof airtight screw-top containers, 20-gallon capacity.
(Imprinted on the container lid: EAGLE No. 1650, UN marking: 1H2/X57/S/11/USA/M4990 3mm)
Average weight = 145 lb when full and compacted with food waste (bokashi fermenting food waste).bear-proof bin

Breakdown month bokashi 2020
Breakdown month DSNY 2020
Amount of bokashi 2020
Quantity details 2020

See also “History of Composting Food Waste and Leaves at El Sol Brillante and the Transition to the Bokashi Method.”