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Braddock Urban Farm Composting Project: Improving Food Growing Soils

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We make compost by-hand. We are pioneering the concept of small-scale urban farm composting.
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We currently divert about FIVE TONS PER MONTH of food waste.
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We make compost year-round and sell it at local farmers markets.
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Through our educational programs and our compost, we've supported the startup of many urban gardens in Pittsburgh!
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Our goal is to support urban farming in the Pittsburgh region by focusing on the food growing soil.  We believe that the health of the soil is directly related to the nutrition of the food that it produces.  Steel City Soils was formed in 2009 to address the main obstacles to successful urban farming.  Since then we've supported many urban farming projects and we've diverted over 100 tons of food waste from the landfill and into food producing gardens in Pittsburgh.

In 2008, while volunteering at Grow Pittsburgh's Braddock Farm, we asked the question: "If we expect urban farming to produce about half our city's diet, how much compost are we going to need?" We quickly learned that it will probably never be enough and that most of our food scraps are thrown away never to be seen again. This was the inspiration for an 8-year journey to start a compost business that could directly support a thriving, sustainable, local-food economy here in Pittsburgh.

In 2014 we asked for help from many of the people we've met along the way, and SCS turned into a cooperative model in which people could learn, work, and join in on the compost fun. Since then we've developed about 10 worker-owners who have pledged their time in exchange for ownership in the compost co-op.This cooperative model was one of the reasons we have made it this far. Now with this campaign, we are trying to get equipment needed to save labor hours and create a viable product.

With this funding we are proposing to do the preliminary work needed to build a site which can handle up to 500 tons/year of food waste from Pittsburgh, PA area.  This site would serve as a model for community composting and could be replicated in the future.



Submitted

Nov 30 2016

Organization Organization Type

Nonprofit

Challenge

Healthy Food

Product Name

Compost for Vegetable Gardening

Product Stage

Concept

Team
  • Jeff Newman
  • Jeff Jaeger
  • Marshall Hart
  • Nick Hagan
  • Gwen Penchan

Contact this team about Funding, Collaboration or other methods of support. Contact Team


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