Edible Design

Creating and Composting at the Gingerbread Build-Off

What happens to the scraps after a gingerbread building competition?

By Cory Garcia December 8, 2017

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S-u-g-a-r, sorry for getting this Wreck-It Ralph song stuck in your head again.

When it comes to building supplies, I think we'd all agree that gingerbread is the tastiest of all available options. Nothing against sheetrock or Legos, but neither of those have the spicy sweet goodness that comes from a good gingerbread cookie. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Architecture Center Houston is getting in on the holiday fun with the 9th installment of their Gingerbread Build-Off. Nearly 40 teams, including architectural firms, high schools and people who just love to build gingerbread houses, will face off for the Grand Prix de Show at Hermann Park tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. 

What these teams are planning are more than just the four walls and a roof you've made in your own kitchen. The build-off combines the art of building design with the art of food design, resulting in pieces that amaze both structurally and aesthetically. Perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that the teams are working with 100 percent edible materials. Yes, the resulting structures will look good enough to eat, but don't be that person that ruins everyone's day by actually trying to eat any of them. 

As you watch the builders work their magic in gingerbread and other holiday treats, you might find yourself wonder what happens to the building materials they don't use. Even seasoned gingerbread home builders make mistakes now and then, after all. That's where the City of Houston Reuse Warehouse, in partnership with the Green Building Resource Center, comes in. They'll be on hand providing composting bins and working to keep as much food out of the trash as possible. 

From there, the gingerbread food waste is collected and put in with the rest of their compost piles. The compost will be used by local nonprofits in their operations.  

"We anticipate that the sustainability/resiliency strategies of several community farm and garden organizations will be augmented by the free acquisition of composted gingerbread and other materials in the next Spring planting season," said Keith A. Koski, manager of the City of Houston Building Materials Reuse Warehouse. 

If that sounds interesting to you, you should consider becoming a master composter in 2018. You'll definitely have one of the more unique new year's resolutions in your social circle. 

Gingerbread construction is not the only thing taking place at Hermann Park. In addition to food trucks and a choir performance, kids will have the chance to work on buildings of their own as well as catch up with Santa himself. Hope he's got room in his gift bag for a mess of drafting tables and rulers. And for those of you who can't make it out tomorrow, winners and select competitors will be on display over at the Central Branch of the Houston Public Library next week for your viewing–but not eating—pleasure.  

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