Composters Dreaming, Investors Scheming

In 2022, in the small town of Alpine, California, Raquel Nuñez founded Cuatro Vientos, a community composting project that brings environmental and cultural solutions to the community. In this episode of Building Local Power, Raquel, and her partners Iriani Lopez and Aedan Lagillardaie, share how it has been a dream come true to reconnect with their heritage and the land through composting. However, over the last year, they have quickly learned that their biggest barrier to sustaining this dream is funding.

Jessica Toth, Executive Director of the Solana Center, an organization driving environmental innovation, joins the second half of the episode to outline how food waste is both an environmental and a social issue and why the very people implementing solutions to lessen our carbon footprint — while providing jobs and education in a circular food system — are underfunded. Despite misaligned interests on the part of investors, environmental stewards, and policymakers, Jessica makes the case for economic incentives that can help the United States address the 40 million tons of food waste created every year in this country alone.

What is Composting? 

A Growing Movement: 2022 Community Composter Census

Cities’ Exclusive Agreements With Trash Collectors Are Holding Back Community Composters

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation’s website

Article about the 6-month pilot project proving the benefits of food waste composting at a local site.

Joint blog with the Solana Center and Closed Loop Partners investors about the need for funding composting programs.

Scheduling for San Diego County sites to sign up for a 1/2-hour compost consultation.

The Solana Center’s Healthy Soils Program to provide technical assistance and state funding for on-farm composting and other regenerative agriculture practices.

Reggie: Hello, and welcome to Building Local Power. I’m your co-host, Reggie Rucker. And we’re back with episode five of this season, where we are highlighting frontline stories in the fight against monopoly power by talking with people all over the country who are actively engaging in building more equitable, thriving local economies. I’m here with my co-host, Luke Gannon. Say, what’s up, Luke?
Luke: Hey, what’s up Reggie? How’s it going?
Reggie: So Luke, I’ve been thinking about the way this season has taken shape so far. We started with a conversation about dollar stores, which led to a conversation about the local grocery stores that are being threatened by these giant corporate chains. Which led to a conversation about the local farms. And then the independent fisheries that are being threatened by deep-pocketed private equity investors. And the sequence started to remind me of, do you remember that old nursery rhyme of the old lady who swallowed a fly and then she ended up swallowing a dog to chase the cat, to chase the mouse, to chase the something to chase the fly. Do you remember that?
Luke: It’s been a long time. Hold up, let me look it up real quick.
Reggie: So, yeah. So, look it up real quick. But that’s what this reminds me of. It’s this story of these corporate interests, that are swallowing up these pieces of the food chain, from the fishing docks to the farms, to the grocery stores, bit by bit.
And today’s episode brings us to the end of this chain. Or really, the beginning of the loop if we build our communities and economy correctly. And that’s with composting. In this episode, we are diving into the story of how private equity investment is threatening the sustainability, and really limiting the potential, of community scaled composters. Which have so many benefits for our local communities. So to get into it, throw it back over to you, Luke.
Luke: Wow. All right. That is a very apt metaphor. After the lady eats the fly, then the spider, then the bird, and all the way to eating the cow, the lady dies. She has simply consumed too much. For all of those interested in teaching your children a little bit about private equity swallowing up the whole market, check out this nursery rhyme.
But today we are joined by three community-scaled composters who started their own small scale composting program Cuatro Vientos. Let’s meet them.
Raquel N.: My name is Raquel Nuñez and I’m from Cuatro Vientos, and I’m the owner and founder of the composting project there. And we’re out in Alpine, California, which is East San Diego County.
Iriani L.-H.: Name is Iriani Lopez Hernandez. And I am part of the Cuatro Vientos team. I am the site operator.
Aiden L.: I am Aiden Lagierde. I am also part of Cuatro Vientos. And I am the lead volunteer slash gardener.
Luke: Raquel bought land just before the pandemic and ultimately founded Cuatro Vientos in 2022. But the beginning of their story can be traced back to a TEDx talk when Raquel was in grad school.
Raquel N.: When I was in grad school, we had these TEDx talks. And so I went to one of them, and Farmscape, out of LA, was there. And I don’t know if you know about them. But from what I remember, it’s like the grandson of one of the orange juice companies in Florida, or whatever. So he comes from this corporate farming background. And somehow he ends up in LA and he has this initiative where he’s trying to get people to farm their front yards, in LA. To help with food shortage and all this stuff.
And so then I was really inspired by that. And I took it back to my house in San Diego. And I always wanted to farm my front yard in my urban neighborhood. And then one of our colleagues… Well, she’s a friend too, not just a colleague. But she’s also part of the same grant over at Madre Sierra.
They have a farm in Escondido, which is North County San Diego. She started hosting different workshops. So, like, seed swaps. And then one year she had this whole rotations, where you could sign up for different conferences. Even though I wasn’t really a gardener or anything yet, I went to an intro to biodynamic farming. And there was an intro to composting. And so I, little by little, I try to start getting at my house in the city.
For work-work? I’m an educator, I’m a consultant, and I work with school districts across the country. And so, I’m gone a lot. So with the pandemic, we weren’t traveling. So I got to stay at home, finally, and try to put some of the stuff that I had learned into practice. And it’s always also been a dream of mine to own a ranch. My grandma had a little ranch out in the Imperial Valley. Which is still in California, but on the way to Arizona. And then I had family in Arizona, who had little ranches or whatever. So I always wanted a ranch.
Luke: Raquel always dreamed of having a ranch. And Aiden, the lead volunteer gardener, had experience and knowledge from his childhood and work life to bring to Quatro Vientos.
Aiden L.: I grew up rural, and composting was just something we did. And we grew a lot of our own food because… There’s food deserts. In the city and rural. You’d think that with all these farms around, there’d be accessible produce, but there really isn’t. So, I grew up doing that. And I moved down to the city for high school and it was… It’s not as accessible to grow your own food? There isn’t really space, unless you’re lucky enough to have a yard. So I kind of stopped doing that for a while. And then, I went to school for sustainable agriculture. Which got me back into the practices, and I practice composting on my own. And then I work in habitat restoration. So I work with a lot of native plants.
When the pandemic started, I was approached by a local nonprofit in National City, which is adjacent to San Diego. To lead a community garden for them. It was transforming this place that was completely overgrown with invasive weeds, and trash, all this stuff. So, we incorporated restoration, and bioremediation. And then we’re growing food to distribute to a local food bank.
Luke: Aiden’s experience in sustainable agriculture and restorative land practices complimented Raquel’s knowledge from learning how to compost at her home in the city. But this was before they had acquired land. Or were working together.
Raquel N.: So, there I was farming my little front yard in the city. And I was like, “Wow, this is a lot of work.” When I was composting, pretty much just piles. I had tried some of the fancy rollers. But I wasn’t ever making soil. So then I just started. I got an old tree… The big wooden ones that the trees come in? And just started throwing everything in there. And then I would turn it every once in a while. Then started gardening out. And then I just remember thinking, “If I wait till I retire to get a ranch, I’m going to be too… I have to do it now while I have energy.” So then, pandemic boards, start looking, talk to a realtor. I thought maybe we would come up with a two or a three year plan. And they were like, “No, we could get you into something now.”
And it just clicked really fast. So then I bought this three acres in Alpine, California. And as soon as I did that, my friend Jessica, over at Mother Theater, because I had gone to some of her workshops, I was connected to other people who were working on her farm. Or starting other little projects. One of the women that I had met through Jessica, Esmeralda Hummingbird, I think had just been hired by CCGS to be the regional coordinator. And she’s like, “Hey, we got this grant. Are you interested in learning about how to compost more?” So I was like, “Yeah, I would totally be down.” And so I filled out the application to do it. I had just moved in, so I didn’t have anything going, or anything.
And I got the grant. And when I started going to the meetings, everyone else was community farms, they were already well established. And I was like, “I don’t even know what I’m doing. I don’t have anything.” And I kept saying, “Are you sure I’m supposed to be here?”
And so that’s how we got started. So we really started from scratch. From nothing.
Luke: The three acres that Raquel bought is 45 minutes outside of San Diego, in Alpine, California. And there’s no public transportation. The need to make money to sustain each of them, and their operation is inescapable.
Raquel N.: So the only reason why money feels like an issue to us, is because it’s like, “Well, how do we sustain this?” Because I’m a little bit further out from the city, for her to come and help me, there’s gas, and there’s things involved. And so we do need some monies. And we’re at the point where we’re trying to figure that out.
Luke: As they work on ways to keep up financially. Raquel and the other leaders of Cuatro Vientos continue putting in a lot of work on the farm. And their dreams of what Cuatro Vientos can be, are endless
Raquel N.: Cuatro Vientos, composting is part of it. But we eventually do want to have garden. And be producing food. We plan to have animals. And also, where we are in Alpine? It’s traditionally, or historically known, as it’s a very white town. And as a woman of color, it feels a little hostile, driving around in our neighborhood sometimes. But as I’ve been living there, you look, and there are other people there. But I feel like we’re a little bit invisible in terms of the culture or the reputation.
Luke: Raquel and her team began looking for businesses to partner with in Alpine, and in neighboring towns.
Raquel N.: And so part of our goal has been to outreach. To try to find businesses, community partners, who are interested in connecting with the land, connecting with each other. And trying to change the narrative of what our community is about.
So right now we have two community partners. Our first partner, she is in Descanso, which is the other tiny little neighboring town to us. And they’re a Mexican restaurant, Spanish speaking. So that’s been really fun, to get to know them. And then we have our second community partner, which is a local cafe.
Luke: Iriani is the site operator. And has used her experience as an educator to help expand the reach of Cuatro Vientos.
Iriani L.-H.: I got hired in January. But I didn’t start working till February. And another thing that we’re doing with the land, other than composting, is we offer the space for the community to use. For cultural ceremonies. Or cultural workshops. Just in general, a place of gathering. So that was one of the things, since we couldn’t start the composting aspect of the grant or the proposal, we focused on that, and just tended to the land.
My regular job is that I’m a educator, and I teach high school students about habitat restoration. So that was one of the things that we were doing in the meantime. Is identifying the non-native species, removing them. We weren’t planting yet. We were just on the removal part. And then again, bringing on the community to the land. To offer up a space. Because it’s something that you can’t necessarily… I mean you can do it in the city, but it’s a whole other experience. And a whole other level of being able to bring community out.
We’re focusing on composting. We’re also still trying to do community engagement by offering the space for groups. Especially folks that are doing Indigenous ceremony, community work. We were able to have a really good volunteer day where we actually… Not only non-native species. But we were able to plant a couple of native plants and then follow up with 10 mesquite trees. And also during the event, we were able to work on the compost, learn more.
Luke: To Raquel, the land has always been about building community. And returning to Indigenous values where humans and the earth live in harmony.
Raquel N.: Well, I know that for me, just from the beginning, it’s been interesting. Because it’s like, I purchased this land, but the goal for me is always, “How do I create community through land?” So it’s just weird that a person owns it.
And so it’s always been an interest of mine to learn more about Indigenous farming practices, reconnecting with the land. And so, environmental justice from that standpoint is something that I think is one of my guiding principles of, “Okay, native restoration right now is, along with composting, is our… They’re our two big focuses right now. Of learning about what belongs there. And then once we get those plants in there, well what do we do with them? Because they thrive when it’s in connection with humans. So how do we use them? How do we process them? How do we make sure that there’s that reciprocity between us and them?
And so, just having a place where we get to learn these things? From each other, with whatever ancestral wisdom and knowledge we’ve been able to hold onto, or reclaim, has been really fun and important. Also then bringing into our own Indigenous ceremonial practices is also… It is environmental justice because it’s not like we can say, “Hey, we want to have a tipi ceremony. Can we rent out the neighborhood park?” You can’t do that kind of stuff there. So we actually have a place where we can have the ceremonies that we want to have, without worrying about a governmental agency telling us what we can or can’t do.
We’re also allowing nature to be itself too, and rejuvenate, and give back those nutrients to itself.
Luke: When I listened to Raquel, Iriani, and Aiden’s story, I realized that the beauty of small scale farming and composting is that it allows them to be creative. And innovative. And to return to ancestral knowledge and wisdom that for generations has been forcefully removed from our education systems. Their vision and their dedication to making this space, that is environmentally and culturally sustainable and just, is what makes community composting unique. Thank you all for being on the show. Now I’m going to pass it to my co-host, who has the best laugh and fabulous smile, Reggie Rucker.
Reggie: So one of the great things about being at a union workplace, is I don’t have to worry about being susceptible to flattery. I’ve been known to hand out money for compliments. So, thank you, Luke.
So normally we take this time during the break to ask for a donation, even if it’s just a small one. $5, $10, really, any amount goes a long way in helping us to do the important work of advocating for folks like Raquel, Iriani, and Aiden, to sustain a really vibrant local economies and communities, and our democracy. And if you can make that donation, please head over to, and contribute whatever small amount you can. We are truly grateful.
But these days I like to focus on the one thing you could do that would cost you nothing. Right now… And I mean that… As soon as I’m done here, pause this episode and share this or another favorite Building Local Power episode with a friend or family member, and encourage them to listen. If you share this with one person you’re close to, and then they share it with one person… Maybe they share it with one person? That’s how change happens. That’s how we can start changing the minds of citizens, and voters. And ultimately, the policy makers, who we need to create the proper policies. So small scale community composters, have a fair shot again to thrive. That’s all we’re advocating for, is a fair chance. Instead of privileging these corporate giants and big-moneyed investors. So that’s our break. Pause this episode, share it with someone you’re close to. Encourage them to listen, and then come right back for the interview. Thanks so much.
Luke: For the second half of this episode, we invited Jessica Toth. Who is the executive director of the Solana Center, an environmental innovation nonprofit that works diligently to address environmental issues.
Reggie: Jessica, thank you so much for taking some time out to talk with us today.
For the listeners who are new to Building Local Power, and what a bigger picture sense of what the composting industry looks like, we have a bunch of great resources So we’re going to put those into the show notes for this episode. We have earlier episodes of BLP that really gives a great look into composting, and the benefits, and the opportunities that exist in the sector. And also we just released a community compostor census. We’re definitely going to add that to the show notes for this episode. It gives a great look into some of the challenges, and also some of the opportunities that community composts are facing. And it really gives the bigger, holistic, data behind the story that you just heard with Raquel, Iriani, and Aiden, as they get Quatro Vientos off the ground.
And that really leads to the conversation we want to have with you today, Jessica. To help us get a sense of the economics behind community composting. And composting at large. To get a better sense of the financial model, that either makes this work or doesn’t make this work as a profitable sector. And how we think about getting more investment into the space. And especially into the local community composting space. So again, Jessica, thank you for taking some time to talk with us about this today.
The first thing I want to ask you about is when we hear the story of Raquel, Iriana, and Aiden, in their composting business that they’re getting underway… They talk so passionately about all the beautiful things that they want to create in that space. But, of course, those things take money. It takes capital. Can you talk to us a little bit about your experience? What you’ve seen in community composting, the composting space? And the discrepancies between small community composters, and the type of funding, backing, that they get. Versus maybe those that are larger-scale operations? Can you give us a sense of that financing landscape in the industry?
Jessica T.: Thank you for having me.
And yes, I think there is a discrepancy. But I would start by saying, actually, that there’s a difficulty in funding any type of composting. And it’s such a shame, because composting is a really beautiful, incredible thing. Not just at the boots on the ground composting level. But it’s from an environmental perspective. Obviously nature’s a closed-loop system. So commercial composters, they actually have a hard time making ends meet as well. In fact, I would say that from anecdotal conversations and experience, the sale of their finished product is not “whether they make their money,” it’s actually the tipping fees. And so the waste product has more value for commercial composters. And they look for grants and loans.
But at the commercial composting level, the state of California… We’re very fortunate here, where there’s funding that’s available, from the state? We administer, at Solana Center, the Healthy Soils program. Which provides grants. But essentially, it’s widely recognized that community composting is a labor of passion.
Even at the residential level, you have local jurisdictions, in local cities, that are subsidizing compost bins. So every part of the process, commercial, community. And community-scale also, in my mind, includes what I call on-farm. We teach an on-farm composting course. It’s a multi-week course. But the uptake of that is relatively small. In other words, there’s interest in the course. But when the rubber meets the road, it’s difficult for farmers to make a pencil out. For manure management, sometimes that is an option that makes economic sense. But I think that’s really the crux of it, is that the economics aren’t there. And if I were to step back to the really big picture… And only speaking for my region… But the tipping fee for waste to our landfill… So, “tipping fee” being the cost to discard one ton of material in our landfill, is on the order of $40 per ton.
And the cost to compost a ton of food waste, is on the order of $90. So how do you square that? Or close that loop? When it’s more than twice as expensive to do the right thing, and to compost material, when you could put it in the landfill? So that permeates every part of life. Every part of business, I suppose.
If you think of a mom and pop restaurant within margins, who want to do the right thing, how do you incentivize them to put their food waste, and get a larger bin to have their material go to composting, when it’s more expensive than the gray bin? We have color-coded bins here in California. So, that’s the crux of the problem, really, is the economics in my view. But you really have to be passionate about, and feel strongly, that this is the right way to go. Now there are definitely are commercial composters out there who are making a business of it. Contamination’s an enormous issue for them that you don’t necessarily have at the community composting level. Because those who are discarding their organic material are very motivated to keep the waste stream clean. At every level, there are issues that don’t pencil out well from a financial point of view.
Reggie: So hearing that… Then, Jessica, I think the question that arises for me is, we’ve been doing a little bit of research and have started to see private equity making their way into this space, seeing that there’s profit to be made. Is that something that you’ve seen, experienced? And if it is, what do you think might be accounting for that, as you described, sort of it being just a tough economic model to begin with?
Jessica T.: That’s a very good question. Quite a few years ago, pre-pandemic, I had a discussion with a private equity investment firm. They were investing heavily in anaerobic digestion across the country. And I tried to make the case with them to consider: at its simplest level, it’s a process that takes those nutrients…. So, when you harvest produce from the land, it pulls the minerals and nutrients along with it. And so that’s why we want to compost it and put it back on the soil. Because the minerals and nutrients.
But another alternative is to actually extract that for renewable natural gas. And that’s what anaerobic digestion does. It extracts the value. It leaves about 90% of the solids as a digestate. But it’s mostly denuded. So, it’s a tidy process. And that was one of the things that I heard from investors. Or this investor that I talked to at this big firm. It’s really, almost literally, in a box? And it’s very, very tidy. And it creates renewable natural gas, instead of finished compost. The investment dollars that were going to anaerobic digestion… I mean, their priority was, anaerobic digestion was number one, biogas number two, and composting number three.
And the other thing to consider with that is, that when I did an analysis using the EPAs WARM model… Which just looks at what the carbon footprint is of these different solutions… Was three times greater, more benefit, from the greenhouse gas savings when you compost, rather than anaerobic digestion. So from an environmental perspective, I would rather see compost. But, having said that, there is more investment to generate capital. Recently purchased a 200 million purchase of Atlas Organics, in South Carolina, which is a very big deal. And so there is a lot more attention to composting, which was what you started the discussion with.
And I think there’s an amazing change in understanding. That organic waste, and very specifically food waste, is an issue. I’ve seen that happen over my time focusing on this issue. I read a study that said: three years ago, about a third of the US population understood that food waste has an environmental impact? And now it’s two thirds. In just three years, people have a much greater understanding that food waste is both an environmental issue, and a social issue. In fact, I would say my neighbors have now heard the term “food insecurity,” when probably that wasn’t true just a couple years ago. And so I think there’s a greater spotlight. And to me, that’s what is accounting for more funding in that space.
As you may know, in California, there’s legislation that prevents organic material from going to landfill. And, along with that, has been greater investment from the state. And a requirement that no organic material can go to landfill, which means solutions with investment dollars are having to follow that regulation. So that’s what I account for. I’ve always been a believer that you want to encourage people to do the best that they can. And my tactic had been really to “one compost bin at a time” thing. But until this legislation passed, a couple years ago, that was really the kick in the seat of the pants to encourage infrastructure change at the local, regional, and the state level.
And I’ll just wrap it up by that part of the question by saying, in our region, we still only have the ability to manage 12% of all the food waste we generate. And 33% of all the organic material. So there’s less restrictions on landscaping materials. So 33%. So that means the rest of it… And when I say manage it, that’s through composting, anaerobic digestion… The rest of it’s got to go somewhere. And so the reality is we really need a mix of solutions. We need those community composters. We need people who are managing their own organic material, on their own site through residential composting as well.
Luke: Jessica, when you say “in our region,” do you mean in California? Or specifically in San Diego?
Jessica T.: I mean specifics to the San Diego region. So we have 3.3 million people in the county region. And we were behind the times for some reason. And I know some of those reasons. But we had less processing capabilities in our area than any of the five most populous areas in the state of California. So, LA, Fresno, Bay Area, they were all ahead of us, in terms of managing organic waste. And that was for historical reasons.
Reggie: You mentioned earlier that the state of California making it a priority to figure out solutions to food waste, has been helpful to bringing more investment to the sector? Because investors know at that point, that this is a commitment that the state has made to invest in these outcomes and in these solutions. And so they know that there’s money to be made from it. Are there other similar solutions? How are you thinking about ways to bring more money into the sector so that all solutions have a chance to thrive? From the community composters to the commercial solutions?
Jessica T.: I don’t know if I have an answer for that. But I’ll describe a project that we undertook in 2014/15. And that was, we identified a business, a restaurant. It’s a fast food chain. It was opening its first location in San Diego area. And they contacted us and said, “Well, where are we supposed to take our food waste?” Because anywhere else that they have been in California… It’s a big, big chain… Anywhere else, they have had to send their food waste in separate area. And we, at that time, did not have… It was all going to a landfill. 2014.
And so we made an arrangement with a agricultural site that was less than a mile away. That was 67 acres, severely depleted soil. And they had been purchasing compost from 25 miles away. So we arranged with the hauler, who was interested to see how this would work. And they transported, weekly, the material from that fast food restaurant up to the agricultural site where it was composted.
We ran the project for six months. The finished compost was five times more nutrient rich than what they had been importing in. It was such a win-win-win. The restaurant was saving $400 a month on the hauling fees. From my perspective as an environmentalist, it was no longer going to landfill. But, the local ordinances did not allow you to compost material that was generated offsite. We knew that. So we did it under the radar for six months. We brought any elected officials. And they were like, “Wow, it doesn’t smell. None of the neighbors have been complaining.” It was incredible. But, “You must stop, Restaurant. You must continue going back to sending the food waste to the landfill. And, Farm? You must only create compost from the material that you’re generating onsite.” Eight years later, this past September, they passed an ordinance to allow you to compost material that’s been brought in from offsite. Throughout the county.
So that was an incredible success. We were actually recognized at the time, in 2015, with the state’s highest environmental honor for putting a spotlight on the issue of food waste. But it still didn’t do anything. I mean, it was eight years. And there were other people who were aware of the issue. But we demonstrated the importance of it, and the potential of it. I’m really not answering your question, except to say that we recognize that all these solutions are necessary.
And in the San Diego area, we’re very unique. We have year-round growing seasons. If you know anything about San Diego, it’s pretty temperate year round. And we have the largest number of farms, the largest number of organic farms in any county in the United States. Which means that they’re relatively small. And so in close proximity, you have commercial, residential, and agricultural sites. And that’s why, in downtown, we had a 67 acre farm, right within a mile of a fast food restaurant. And so, these kinds of closed-loop systems, it’s ideal for it.
And so, really, back to the big issue of how are we going to manage all of the organic waste and the food waste that we’re generating? We have to be creative. And come up with these kind of solutions. We have to look for the regulations to be eased, so that these types of arrangements can happen.
Reggie: Jessica, I think the one last thing I wanted to ask you is, going back to story of Quatro Vientos and deep-rooted belief and passion, in finding better ways to take care of the land that we occupy…
What do you tell a group of sort of community-minded, civic-minded, folks like them who hear this story about it taking eight years to make progress on something? How do you… I don’t know. Keep them energized, keep them hopeful that this is, not only important but possible, and sustainable, and that there are financial solutions that are within reach? Is there any hope that you can provide them?
Jessica T.: Well, I think along those lines, the state legislation, just as an example, requires that each jurisdiction must spur the market for the finished goods. So the byproducts. So they must purchase a certain amount of a finished compost, and/or the renewable natural gas, as part of the regulations. And so, what we’re seeing is, that it really is encouraging the market. I think I started by saying that even with the commercial composters, they make their money off of taking the waste. More than they make it from the sale of the finished product. So there’s not a market for the finished product. And there’s no real appreciation or value in it. That’s a problem.
But I do think that that is changing, and so, beyond the fact that it is such an incredible process to see and be part of… And I have staff who say that there’s the soil releases endorphins that create a happy life… Besides that, I think that obviously what they’re doing at Cuatro Vientes is really important to the community, and I hope it will be recognized. I do think that there’s change that we’re seeing happen. I am optimistic. But it does take time and real persistence.
Luke: Absolutely. Yeah, change really does take time, and that really is an inspirational story. After all, it did take eight years. But it finally came to fruition, so it’s great to hear.
So Jessica, we’re going to end this episode by asking you about a book that has impacted your work in environmental sustainability. Or just your life and your career…
Jessica T.: That is such an open-ended question. Specific to composting, I have to say, I asked staff who are much more hands-on with the composting, and they said, really the best source for content on composting is to look at the US Composting Council’s website. They said, in general, that the content is evolving enough that material is available on the website.
Reggie: Thank you so much, Jessica. This was really enlightening. Really helpful in helping us understand the challenges that the sector faces in making it possible to be someone’s livelihood and business. So, this is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much.
Luke: Wow. Well, thank you so much, Jessica, for this thoughtful conversation. And for joining us on the show today. Thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in to this episode of Building Local Power. You can find links to everything discussed today by going to and clicking on the show page for this episode. That is I L S R dot org.
Reggie: If you like this podcast, remember, please share with your family, your friends, the random people that follow you on social media because you’re such a great follow. And remember, all of your reviews and likes on your streaming platform helps this podcast reach more people. And your donations help to keep this podcast going, and supports the research and resources that we make available on our website for free. We welcome and appreciate it all so much. This show is produced by Luke Gannon and me, Reggie Rucker. This podcast is edited by Drew Birschbach and Luke Gannon. Our theme music for the season is composed by Andrew Frank. Thank you for listening to Building Local Power.

Like this episode? Please help us reach a wider audience by rating Building Local Power on Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. And please become a subscriber! If you missed our previous episodes make sure to bookmark our Building Local Power Podcast Homepage

If you have show ideas or comments, please email us at Also, join the conversation by talking about #BuildingLocalPower on Twitter and Facebook!


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS


Music Credit: Andrew Frank, ILSR’s Digital Communications Manager

Photo Credit: Andrew Frank, ILSR’s Digital Communications Manager

Podcast produced by Reggie Rucker and Luke Gannon

Podcast edited by Drew Birschbach and Luke Gannon

Copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and, for monthly updates on our work, sign-up for our ILSR general newsletter.

Avatar photo
Follow Luke Gannon:
Luke Gannon

Luke Gannon is the Research and Communications Associate for the Independent Business team.

Avatar photo
Latest posts from Luke
Avatar photo
Follow Reggie Rucker:
Reggie Rucker

As Communications Director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Reggie develops communications strategies and leads campaigns to build public support for ILSR local power initiatives. Contact Reggie with media inquiries.