Monday, November 5, 2012

Feeling all Inspired up in Here

This weekend we watched the documentary Fresh, which features one of my all-time favorite guys, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, amongst other local food heroes.

The documentary is all about thinking about what we eat and where it comes from. It's very much a case for small-scale food systems. One thing from the documentary that really inspired me was a visit with a farmer named Will Allen

Will Allen

This man operates an incredible urban farming project called Growing Power on two acres inside the Milwaukee, WI city limits. Growing Power sustainably grows organic vegetables in greenhouses, uses aquaponics, raises bees, chickens, and other animals, trains young farmers, and composts an amazing amount of food waste. 

One of the aspects of Will Allen's project that most interests me is the composting program. At Growing Power, they use worms to help break down 180,000 pounds of food waste per week. The resulting worm castings fertilize the gardens and are also sold to the public. And all that food waste doesn't end up in a landfill. The EPA states on their website that 33 million tons of food waste went to landfills in 2010. At Growing Power, they collect waste from grocers, breweries, and coffee shops and turn it into life.

Will with a handful of busy worms

Vermiculture bins in one of the Growing Power greenhouses

Worm castings,  harvested and ready to be used

See those compost piles in the back? Growing Power turns waste into a perfect fertilizer for the farm.

I am so inspired by this! We plan to start using worms at home to compost our kitchen scraps more efficiently, but now I'm thinking about the future with Zane Street Farms. How many Twin Cities co-ops, farm-to-table restaurants, small grocers, breweries, coffee shops and households might be willing to work with local farmers to turn food refuse into life again? 

Have any of you tried composting with worms? Have any tips to share?

Photo credits:

Photo 1 - Darren Hauck for The New York Times article An Urban Farmer is Rewarded for His Dreams

Photo 2 - From Growing Power

Photo 3 - From Michael Bryson

Photo 4 - From Organic Nation 

Photo 5 - From The Compost Pile

1 comment:

  1. Been working out a bug in the commenting function- I think it's working now.


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