The mission of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) of Chicago, IL is to organize with the community to accomplish environmental justice in Little Village and achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. Their vision is to build a sustainable community that promotes the healthy development of youth and families, provides economic justice, and practices participatory democracy and self-determination. The group’s 1.5 acre Semillas de Justicia garden began five years ago, when a strong oil smell was detected emanating from the Troy street site and brought to LVEJO’s attention. It was discovered that site was being used to deposit leftover oil barrels. LVEJO organized with Troy street neighbors to demand that this site be cleaned up and transformed into a community garden. Today, the Troy garden blooms with a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and flowers for the enjoyment of the community. The garden is a center for community dinners, bike repair workshops, art classes for children, a Fall Harvest Fest, and several other educational workshops.

Several people standing outside around a raised garden bed in the center of view. A man is bent over the bed pouring in compost or soil from a bucket.

LVEJO shared with IFSC their recent experience with offering composting workshops. “Composting at our Semillas de Justicia Community Garden in Little Village wasn’t the most efficient at the beginning of the year,” a representative noted. “We decided to partner up with NeighborSpace and Nance Klehm to clean up our system and start new in a communal way. We hosted a series of Community Composting 101 workshops that consisted of understanding the basics of composting as it relates to gardening and neighbors waste. We walked around our garden, studied the ways our old system could be improved and highlighted the other different forms of composting already existing at the garden such as our vermicomposting boxes, and our passive dry leaves bin.”

Close up of person mending wire around compost bin

“These series of workshops led to more Semillas gardeners becoming invested in our composting system. Thanks to the Community Composting 101 workshops, we were able to communally repair a 5 Cubic Yard composting bin, along with a couple of smaller bins which has tremendously upgraded our ability to compost food scraps, and yard waste at the Semillas de Justicia Community Garden in a clean, odorless, and efficient way. This educational system is set-up so all Semillas gardeners, including youth, can participate in garden composting all year round. We had between 7 and 15 gardeners present at all Community Composting workshops. The garden went from 3 people actively composting to about 10 who are currently managing our different composting systems.”

It’s great to see this community group making composting a more communal effort! If you’re interested in learning more about LVEJO, visit their web site at

Group of people outside working together to repair a mesh enclosed compost bin.