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Digging into the History (and Future) of Garbage at The Pardee-Morris House

Garbage receiver in Prospect Hill New Haven - image courtesy of Domingo Medina

New Haven, Conn. (May 18, 2021) – Domingo Medina, founder and owner of Peels & Wheels Composting, will discuss his research on the city’s historic practice of door-to-door collection of organic waste, which was sold as pig fodder in the 1800s and into the early 20th century. (Some city properties still have old metal waste bins, or garbage receivers, installed in the early 1900s [See attached image, “garbage receiver in Prospect Hill.”]) The event, “The History (and Future) of Garbage," will take place on Sunday, June 13, 2021, at 3:30 p.m. at the Pardee-Morris House. Admission is free.

As New Haven's top “composting coach,” Medina is investigating at the New Haven Museum how the previous practice of feeding garbage to pigs—once common in the United States— evolved, and why it ceased.

One source in Medina’s research is “A People's Guide to Infrastructure in New Haven,” researched and written by students at Yale University, which notes, “New Haven...persisted feeding hogs garbage, insisting that that method was better than incinerators or other removal systems. Twenty out of 66 American cities with more than 100,000 residents used hogs as a method of trash removal by 1918. The custom ended up directly causing a series of trichinosis cases in the 1930s.” Other resources on the topic tell a similar tale. Medina will have available a booklet of historical photographs and advertising to demonstrate the former practice of the horse-and-carriage collection of food scraps in New Haven.

Medina is also exploring how a more contemporary approach to separating organic waste might benefit future generations. His discission at PMH will include a sustainability demo with tips and tricks for successful composting—in backyard gardens and beyond. He hopes to have Peels & Wheels expand into the East Shore with the help of neighborhood "compost captains.” Those who are interested will be able to sign up to visit Domingo's hub site to learn more.

Members of area environmental groups, such as CT Recyclers Coalition, and Sustainable CT, will be invited to attend Medina’s presentation, providing a networking opportunity for those who consider themselves "stakeholders" in innovative waste management practices in New Haven.

Peels &Wheels Composting provides a pedal-powered compost service to residents, small businesses and schools throughout New Haven and adjacent towns, providing a cleaner, greener 21st-century alternative to dumping in landfills. Employing bikes, bins, and trailers, the Peels &Wheels team collects kitchen scraps and other biodegradable materials on a weekly basis and processes them for composting. In addition to mitigating environmental pollution from the incineration of trash, Peels &Wheels performs soil analyses, provides training and education, creates green jobs and builds community.


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