By Kayla Marcus — WUFT contributor
Tempo Bistro to Go is the latest Gainesville restaurant to team up with a community group in composting its waste and selling the soil back to farmers.
The restaurant located at the corner of Northwest 16th Street and Northwest 13th Street made its first soil sale on March 20.
Tempo Bistro is one of 18 restaurants and other local businesses that recycle their food scraps in partnership with Gainesville Compost.
Gainesville Compost collects food waste from local restaurants and transforms the scraps into enriched soil to sell to community gardens and farmers.
Compost members pick up food scraps from the restaurants and transport the scraps in buckets with small trailers attached to bicycles.
The collected scraps are taken to compost sites throughout the city, and the compost team adds nutrients over a two-month period. The group sells the enriched soil to area farmers, said Chris Cano, a member of Gainesville Compost.
“Gainesville Compost’s primary goal is to turn waste into food,” he said.
Tempo Bistro also has a compost site behind the restaurant. To sift the soil on site, the Gainesville Compost team created a handmade sifter with a bicycle wheel to rotate and enrich the compost.
Gainesville Compost also planted an outdoor garden behind the restaurant for plants and herbs. An outdoor dining area for customers is next to the garden.
The herbs grown in the backyard garden are used in some of Tempo Bistro’s menu offerings.
Gainesville Compost started in September 2011. “Tempo Bistro was one of the first to contact us with a partnership in mind,” Cano said.
Tempo Bistro partnered with Buy Local North Central Florida and pays a membership fee so it can buy food from local farmers, said Val Leitner, a leader with Buy Local North Central Florida.
“It’s not a get-rich-quick kind of business,” Leitner said. “Most restaurants only make a 5 to 15 percent profit margin at most. When restaurants choose to go local, the food costs go through the roof.”
Buy Local advertised for Tempo Bistro on area television. Nathan Harris, a restaurant employee, said the adverting brought in more business.
“We have been open for two years, and business has steadily gotten better,” he said.
Tempo Bistro works to localize food with its Buy Local partnership and reduces the amount of food waste through Gainesville Compost, Leitner said.
“Tempo Bistro embodies true social entrepreneurship,” she said. “They have a true love and commitment to localizing food and the food process.”