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Cast Iron Partner Award Recipient Gwen Ossenfort

Gwen Ossenfort is Operations Manager for Reclaimed Organics/Common Ground Compost, compost hauler for the SoHo Broadway Initiative’s compost program

Gwen was among this year’s six Cast Iron Partner Award recipients at the SoHo Broadway Initiative’s 5th Annual Meeting! We caught up with her to learn about what brought her to SoHo and her involvement in the community.

Year of arrival on SoHo Broadway: May 2018

What brought you to SoHo Broadway? What do you do here?

Reclaimed Organics partnered with the SoHo Broadway Initiative and artist Debbie Ullman to provide a compost collection drop-off site, cleverly disguised as the New York ComPost Box. It sits inconspicuously at the corner of Broadway & Spring Street. Neighborhood residents, with the combination to the lock, can drop their food scraps in the bucket hidden inside the yellow, re-purposed newspaper box. Our company empties the bucket three times a week. Over the past year, SoHo residents have diverted over ONE TON of food scraps from landfills. As our pilot program in SoHo, well done, You!

On a personal note, SoHo has been ingrained in my DNA since I was a kid and my brother had a studio on Broome St in the 1970’s & 80’s. I remember when the neighborhood was a less-than-pristine shopping mecca and David Byrne lived around the corner.

Reclaimed Organics hauls compost by bicycle

What does your organization do, what industry are you in?

Reclaimed Organics is a bike-powered compost micro-hauler operating in Manhattan south of Central Park. We pick up compost from more than 80 customers, including offices, restaurants, schools as well as a few residents. And, of course, that clever box in SoHo Broadway.

Our parent company, Common Ground Compost, provides waste management solutions including zero waste advice, waste audits and output analysis, event waste stations and education.

What do you like about SoHo Broadway?

SoHo Broadway has the familiarity of Grandma’s La-Z-Boy, the excitement of a bold Rauschenberg, and the bustle of Times Square in nicer clothes. Riding through the neighborhood on a bike reveals so many carefully re-crafted buildings; the restored architecture of the neighborhood truly takes my breath away. Discovering the hidden outdoor spaces (The RealReal downstairs), appreciating the nearly level cobblestone streets (always a plus on a bike), and doing a manual labor task amidst the often surprised retail tourists never gets old.

What is your favorite SoHo Broadway memory or experience?

Pulling up to the ComPost Box on Thunder, our bright green electric-assist trike, hefting the full bucket of compost from the box and dumping it into our giant totes in front of dozens of tourists is pretty high on the happy experience meter. For reals. More people take photos of this activity in SoHo Broadway than anywhere else we ride. It’s a great teaching moment as well

[Personally, David Byrne stood behind me in line at Food in 1988. (yes, I’m a little Byrne-obsessed).]

If you had 20 minutes, where would you go?

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

What should we know about you outside of working here?  What do you do for fun or are you looking forward to doing?

Currently sitting on the beach on Lake Champlain in northern Vermont watching sailboats with my dog. Oh, and my kids and husband are here too.

SoHo Broadway Initiative Executive Director Marc Dicus, 2019 Cast Iron Parnter Gwen Ossenfort & President Brian Steinwurtzel

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