Course Description

Do you want to start a community-based composting project, but aren’t sure where to start? Are you involved with an existing community composting initiative, but need to brush up on the best practices for engaging folks in your project? Do you need to train your staff or project partners in the fundamentals of hot composting? This course is for you!

Developed by ILSR under its Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Composter Training Program, Community Composting 101 provides an overview of the importance of and science behind composting, and recommended best practices for implementing community-based programs. It includes an introduction and seven video-based training modules, covering the following topics:

Module 1 – The What & Why of Composting
Module 2  – Composting Systems & The Role of Community Composting
Module 3 – Composting Fundamentals & Recipe Development
Module 4 – Building a Compost Pile 
Module 5 – Managing the Composting Process
Module 6 – Site Design & Management
Module 7 – Getting Started & Engaging the Community  

Each module runs between 25 to 35 minutes in length, for a total course length of approximately 3.5 hours. Each module is followed by a 5-question knowledge check assessment, which you will need to pass in order to progress to the next section. In order to receive a certificate of completion, you will need to watch each video-based module, pass each accompanying knowledge check, and achieve an 80% score on the final exam.

We have partnered with the Southface Institute to house our Community Composting 101 online certificate course. Enrollment in this course provides access to Southface’s virtual learning management system, the Community Composting 101 video-based training modules, a list of supplemental resources, and a glossary of relevant terminology. 

This course provides a solid foundation for further hands-on composting training, such as our NSR Master Composter Program.


Course Objectives

Upon completion of modules, assignments, and assessments, participants will be able to:

  • Define compost and composting
  • Identify ways in which compost can benefit soil, plants, waterways, and the climate
  • Explain the potential benefits of community composting
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic scientific principles of composting and how those principles are applied in practice
  • Understand best management practices for community-scale composting and how to implement them
  • Design their own community composting initiative tailored to their community’s needs


Who is this course for?

  • Anyone interested in starting or supporting a community composting initiative
  • Anyone involved in an existing community composting initiative

No prior experience with composting is necessary, but you do need access to a computer.

Please note: the focus of this course is hot or thermophilic composting, not vermicomposting (composting with worms). However, the information on the benefits of composting and background on community composting will be relevant regardless of the composting system being used.


Cost & Enrollment

The cost of enrollment is $100 per person. Bulk discounts and individual scholarships are available. We are dedicated to making our resources accessible to those in need, including historically disenfranchised, frontline, and BIPOC communities.

Grab a buddy (or five) and enroll together! Bulk discounts are available for groups at the following levels:

  • $75 per enrollment for 2-4 people enrolling together
  • $50 per enrollment for 5 or more people enrolling together

From September 18th – 30th, ILSR is offering free enrollment to residents in the following states and tribal lands:


  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
  • Narragansett Indian Tribe
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indians – Indian Township Reservation
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indians – Pleasant Point Reservation
  • Penobscot Indian Nation
  • Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
  • Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
  • Aroostook Band of Micmacs
  • Mohegan Tribe
  • Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe


  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Chickahominy Indian Tribe Providence Forge, VA
  • Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division Providence Forge, VA
  • Monacan Indian Nation Amherst, VA
  • Nansemond Indian Nation Suffolk, VA
  • Pamunkey Indian Tribe King William, VA
  • Rappahannock Tribe Indian Neck, VA
  • Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe King William, VA