Critter-Proof Composting Comes to City Farmer

The bins just keep coming. There are now 12 Critter-Proof Composters doing the good work of turning kitchen waste into living earth. Almost all of them are in and around Powell River, B.C.

Early in October, we built the first Critter-Proof Bin in Greater Vancouver in the City Farmer’s Compost Demonstration Garden.

The garden keeps a sample of every widely available composter on hand, and advises anyone interested in composting on how to go about it. There’s also a garden compost hotline (604-736-2250). Those blue bins behind me are City Farmer’s old worm composting bins. It’s composting central, and we were honored to be invited to build a bin.

Mike Levenston, the garden’s executive director, took a video the day the bin was completed. You can view the full two minutes by clicking here.

If you’re in the Lower Mainland, come and check out the composter. The Garden is at 6th Avenue and Maple Street, with the entrance off the lane.


We had a great time putting the bin together – two hot and sunny days for the form work, and a final day, cool enough to wear a sweater, for finishing it off and installing the doors.

Here’s a shot of the cement mixer under City Farmer’s grape arbor. In these surroundings, even the cement mixer looks good.

The cement mixer under the grape arbor

And here’s the finished bin. Somehow every one of them seems to be the most beautiful one so far. This is bin number nine.  Can you spot the accidental daisy?


4 Responses

  1. I live in Colorado and my first year as a composter has failed. I had a nice start and the bear just knocks the whole thing over and has a feast. I am going to start one in my garage in an old trash can and then transfer to the big after the bears go to sleep. I need to start now because I won’t be able to get the heat up in the winter w/o a good start. I just love your bin and was wondering if you had any plans or pointers for building one of my own. I am pretty handy and my husband is a carpenter so I think just an idea or specs would be helpful. You have made my day by finding your website and I now know there is hope. So dramatic:) Happy composting!!!
    Glenwood Springs, CO

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    Great to hear from you. We have the instruction manual finally finished! By the end of next week it should be available online.
    Happy composting to you too – and I’m glad to know there could be a Critter-Proof Composter in Colorado soon.

  3. Hello – We also live in CO, just outside of Boulder in the foothills.
    I would like to get more active with my composting, but know the bears will destroy anything other than a rock or strong metal one.

    Do you have your plan manual done yet?



  4. Hi Terry,
    The plans are finished.
    Right now we’re looking for someone in southwestern B.C. to do beta testing for us – in other words to build a bin without Laurie there, so we know for sure that the instructions, photographs and drawings are, indeed, clear enough to build from.
    Please get in touch with me at evej@shaw.ca and let’s talk.

Comments are closed.

learn more about critter-proof composting

If you care about the environment and want to compost, the real problems come on four legs, in small, medium and large sizes: rats, raccoons and black bears.
The Critter-Proof Composter is made using concrete formwork, faced with stone, with recessed bolts holding aluminum lid, front door and back vent in place. As unique as it looks, this design uses proven methods for producing compost

dan egan, new jersey


I thought the manual was great.
It has been wonderful building something that works with the Earth, looks great and will be around for a long time.
As someone taking on this project with little carpentry OR concrete experience, I had a great time learning more, especially from minor mistakes here and there.
I plan on borrowing the forms we made for the camp composter and building one this summer in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York on my family’s lake, which will be even better.

marylou and david, powell river


We have a vegetable garden, and the compost for that is by the garden. But we wanted something to take care of our kitchen wastes. We put everything in there.
We’ve been using it for more than a year, and it’s amazing. It never seems to get filled up. It’s always working.
I took a couple of wheelbarrow loads out in February, when I was top dressing, and I was really pleased with what I got. It was rich and black and not stinky.

jason, wildwood, b.c.


We get a lot of bears, six or seven last year, because there are hazelnut trees in the yard.
We use the composter all the time, and we put everything in it. Then we cover whatever we put in with dirt, to help it out.
I love that you can put such a wide range of foodstuffs in it, and the critters don’t get at it.

diana woods, powell river


I have a large garden and a lot of composters. This one is not only safe for kitchen wastes, it produces the best compost of all. I think it’s because the stone keeps it at a steady temperature, and in hot weather, it doesn’t dry out around the edges like a plastic bin.

jan lovewell, lund, b.c.


We had a terrible problem with bears and raccoons, with multiple incidents of bears tearing the garbage apart even though we washed out anything that could possibly smell of food.
We didn’t dare compost, even fruit and vegetable wastes.
Now we compost almost everything.
I’ve turned it once with an aerator. The compost is great, and there’s plenty of capacity.