The neighbors didn’t know what to make of the container that had started showing up on the Cooksey’s doorstep. One day, the curiosity became too much.
“Okay, okay, I’ve got to ask,” said one, a law enforcement officer, who came across Celia Cooksey on their Spartanburg street. “What’s in the bucket? We’ve been wondering among ourselves, so I thought I’d just ask.” Cooksey and her husband, Randy, had signed up for Atlas Organics’ Compost House program.
The company picks up their yard waste and food scraps — from coffee grounds to fresh produce to meat — and delivers a bucket of what appears to be exceptionally rich dirt. Cooksey remembers the first time she saw the nutrient-packed delivery on her doorstep. “It felt like magic,” she said.
But the beginning of the process — socking away leftovers and scraps that might otherwise desludge the kitchen trash can — has a certain magic of its own. “I say we’re going to ‘release it to the wild,’” said Cooksey, of food that’s hung around too long. Ultimately, those food scraps, gathered from residential customers like the Cookseys and larger clients from grocery stores to hospitals, are “released into the wild” when they’re mixed with the soil in farms, residential and school gardens, landscaping areas and other types of land. But it all starts with an Atlas Organics truck picking up the food scraps.