Our ‘living’ systems are composed of carbon residue, microorganisms, minerals,
and red wriggler worms. The resulting material is remarkably fertile, giving
plants access to the nutrients needed for both plant growth and for human
nutrition. The “closed-loop” ecological approach to this system allows for
the clean up of contaminants in the soil, for digestion and transformation of
food waste, and for the production of fertilizer that is far more effective than
chemical treatments. The high
microbial count in our system helps fight off soil disease and breaks down food
waste rapidly, keeping plants strong and healthy.
fertility for all of Growing Power’s sites comes from compost that is produced
on the 2.5-acre urban farm in Milwaukee and our 30-acre rural farm in Merton. Our compost is made with recycled food waste, farm waste, brewery waste,
and coffee grinds. Bread, dairy, or
meat products are not included in the compost. The product of Vermicomposting (intensive composting in boxes with worms)
is also added to the growing system. The
resulting worm castings are a low impact, completely sustainable product that
has the NPK ratio of a strong fertilizer and the perfect pH for planting
vegetables. The compost and
castings are added to fields and raised beds as mulch, a soil amendment, and in
the form of foliar teas. In the
urban growing environments raised beds are built called “Living Biological
Worm Systems;” these beds are constructed with a layer of raw compost seeded
with a healthy worm population and then capped with castings and/or topsoil. These raised beds maintain their fertility with little or no amendment
for up to five years.
Compost 101: Growing Power Style
It all starts with food waste – food waste literally by
truck load. Not only does Growing Power compost
of our farm waste in Milwaukee, Merton, and
Chicago, but we also pick-up food waste from
Produce, Tropic Banana, and
Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
Food waste from those three sources alone amount to
pounds per week or over 8 million pounds per
Milwaukee is famous for its beer, but what happens to all of that
brewery waste? At Growing Power it becomes worm food. We collect
over 20,000 lbs. of brewery waste from
Lakefront Brewery every week
or 1.4 million tons of waste annually.
Did you know worms like coffee too!
Since 2000, Alterra
Coffee has delivered the used coffee grounds from their
Prospect Avenue café to our vermicomposting bins at
Growing Power Food Center and Training Facility. It is a
great nitrogen source and it keeps our nice group of red
wriggers well fed.
We compost over 300 pounds of coffee
Extra! Extra! Read all about it.
Or for those of you not reading the newspaper, we compost over
500 pounds of newspapers per week
from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Need some other options for your compost
Growing Power also collects:
For those of you counting, Growing Power composts more than
180,000 pounds of waste per week.
That’s over ten million pounds of waste not going into Wisconsin’s and Illinois’ landfills annually.