In 2017 we began to brainstorm ideas that would provide sustainable financial revenue to fund activities for our veterans.
One of our friends, a post-9/11 veteran, had an idea for us that he already implemented in Colorado–a social enterprise called vermicomposting. At first, it sounded crazy to us. It involves using food waste, which is converted through the worms’ specialized digestive system into a nutrient-rich fertilizer called vermicompost, or worm castings. This soil amendment nourishes and preserves our soil, already damaged and depleted due to the widespread use of synthetic fertilizers. In addition to the considerable environmental benefits, manufacturing and selling our product will provide the ideal employment milieu for our veterans.
In November 2017, we started a test phase using worms and a small bin. We harvested several pounds of this fertilizer and shared free samples with some local growers, who gave us overwhelmingly positive feedback. One of them would buy 3 tons of our worm castings a year! Now we’re working on implementing this program. Research, negotiations, meetings. . . Several organizations will be involved. We’re proud to take everything to the next level and expand our presence in our community.
Update 5/22/2018: We are almost finishing our business plan and we are very thankful for the support from the City of Roseburg and Douglas County.
In June 2018, we have conducted an online survey on willingness of Douglas County’s demographics to separate vegetable/fruit waste, and also on preferences concerning fertilizers. The majority of the respondents answered that they would separate food waste, or they already separate it for their own compost. 34% of the respondents answered that they wouldn’t deliver it due to their lack of time, the distance from where they live, or because they already use it for compost. More than 50% of the respondents answered that they buy organic or natural fertilizer/soil amendment. 70% of the respondents answered that they would likely be to purchase worm castings from Source One Serenity instead of competing products available from other companies. The question was formulated with an emphasis that proceeds go to the programs for veterans, and that their purchase will benefit not only veterans, but our community including students, as they will be involved into ongoing research.
Update 9/13/2018: We have already started applying for grants to secure funding.
Update 12/28/2018: Read our newsletter about our first grant awards.
Until now, we have collected about 800 pounds of food waste from three households and harvested about 500 pounds of worm castings in a couple of bins we have. We have volunteered more than 1,000 hours.