By Vandra Thorburn
Vokashi is a unique composting service for the green-at-heart living in an urban environment. Currently, Vokashi collects fermented food waste from households and small businesses in New York City and composts in backyards, community gardens and public green spaces. Vokashi partners with a Brooklyn-based youth program, ReConnect, to create a curriculum for training community based composters. To build secure and solid composting sites, Vokashi needs to invest in light industrial equipment and power tools – like mulchers, pulpers, shredders and insulated containers - to help gardens manage their yard waste and to produce valuable composts and amended soils.
In more depth, tell us the story of what you want to do and what your mission is.
Using the Japanese method of fermenting food waste, Vokashi provides households and small businesses with airtight buckets and fermenting bran – made with the original Japanese microbial inoculants EM-1® - so they can easily and safely manage all of their food scraps (including leftover cooked foods, meats, pastas and diary products). There are no smells, no bugs or pests, and no pathogens. Once a month Vokashi collects the fermented food waste and then processes at compost sites in public and private gardens and green spaces. Investment in light industrial equipment and power tools will help with composting and amended soil production.
What is the positive impact you will have on the world and how will you measure that impact?
Vokashi has growing network of subscribers who, collectively, are diverting nearly a ton of compostables from the landfill every month (including materials generally not accepted at traditional compost drop-offs and sites). Vokashi helps community gardens by converting their garden waste to compost. In addition, Vokashi is pioneering onsite soil amendment capacity at a public park. Where land is at a premium and where the soil is so depreciated, having the capacity to amend, enrich and remediate soil using fermented food waste would be huge development for organic waste management.
Zhongqi Cheng is the director of the Environmental Sciences Analytical Center at Brooklyn College, and a faculty member for the Earth and Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Macaulay Honors College. He is also an adjunct associate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a guest professor at the University of Science and Technology of China.
Media specialist: Masters Degree in Educational Technology, media producer, teacher. Video production, website design, writing, editing, photography, educator trainer, digital marketing. Help small businesses, non-profits, artists, performers with promotion. Create videos from existing websites. see TheCommuNETy.com and ubcome.com
Greg Todd is a permaculturist who facilities two community gardens in Crown Heights. One of the gardens has been certified by Brooklyn Botanic Garden as a registered composting site. Greg is particularly interested in using bike carting to collect food wastes for composting.
Chief organizer of The Brooklyn Food Coalition a grassroots organization dedicated to the vision of a just and sustainable food system in Brooklyn through community organizing, public education, and research and advocacy. The Coalition is fundamentally committed to building an inclusive, multi-racial, multi-cultural alliance of residents and community-based groups from all parts of Brooklyn, reflecting the borough’s rich diversity.
Kathleen Kirkwood, founder of the B.R.A. ™, THE BRA RECYCLING AGENCY, is participating with VOKASHI by campaigning for City Composting Programs. Kathleen is currently an intimate apparel designer on QVC shopping TV, and her brand has been carried by retailers, such as Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom over her 30 year career. Green and Recycling is a natural progression, as designing fashion, for today, requires a RESPONSIBLE solution to waste, when women are ready to trash their old 'undies'.
Ulky Saint-Vil is a dentist in private practice in Brooklyn, NY. He is also a permaculturalist and Founder of Green Haiti, an organization dedicated to the reforestation of the denuded mountains of Haiti. He finds himself circling back to Haiti at every possible opportunity to build the farm he started using permaculture and organic waste techniques which increase farm food production, reduce poverty and generate income. Ulky has been composting his own kitchen waste using the Vokashi system. He believes that protecting the environment is imperative.