The Unlikely Ascent of New York’s Compost Champion

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There were good reasons Domingo Morales, a city kid from the Bronx, didn’t want to try his hand at urban farming. He was terrified of germs. He thought vegetables were disgusting. Plus, everyone knows the ground in New York City is shot through with lead.

But Mr. Morales’s bosses in 2015 really wanted him to give it a shot, so he did. To his astonishment, he loved it. And though he couldn’t know it at the time, Mr. Morales would fall in love with insects, bacteria and even vegetables, and before long, become arguably the most famous compost guy in New York.

Mr. Morales, a doe-eyed, vibrant 30-year-old once known on the street as “Reckless,” is on a mission to make composting cool, by which he means accessible to everyone, by which he means the people he grew up around in hard-bitten neighborhoods in New York City.

Through a program Mr. Morales created that brings composting to public housing, home to as many as 600,000 New Yorkers, he is showing his community what, for him, is still an astonishment: Recycling food scraps can help them grow nutritious food.

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