Food justice non-profit, growing SOUL —Sustainable Opportunities for Universal Learning - was created in 2009 as a manifestation of founder Jessica L. Weiss' life’s passions. Comprised of leaders and educators in the local food movement, growingSOUL created a self-reliant, urban farm-to-table, economically sustainable food cycle.


Our interconnected programs include:

Yard Link for nutrient recycling via composting & fresh food production;;

Putting Stock in Your Community for food processing & preservation;

The Collaborative for distribution;

The Culinerati workforce development program to train the community; and

The Montgomery County Food Council and Food Security Coalition to oversee it and keep it thriving in the Nation’s Capital Area.

growing SOUL's base became Queens NYC in the fall of 2019, soon to become the epicenter of Covid-19. growing SOUL was able to combine a decade of experience and fresh food provider connections as we pivoted to manifest The growingSOUL Collaborative Network.  


Yard Link

Composting &

Food Production

We collect community food scraps

and compostables to effectively 

grow healthy soil in which we help communities to grow healthy sustainable food.

  • Redirected 75 tons of food scraps from our wholesale partner and Culinerati kitchen scraps to feed farm animals​

  • Diverted 1400​ ​tons tons of food scraps out of landfills via composting​

  • Enriched the soils along the Underground Railroad, effectively “growing” new topsoil to cover an acre of food production land​

  • Cultivated & Produced over 9 tons of organic produce on that acre 

  • ​Established urban farms and farmers markets, teaching at-risk youth to grow, prepare, market and compost their food, bringing healthy produce and value-added products to residents in food deserts

  • Launched the first municipal curbside-pickup composting pilot program in the Washington DC Metropolitan region; by educating through civic meetings, trash-free school lunches, and weekly email updates, we achieved a 94% participation rate

We recover seconds and ugly produce and process them into bone broth, soup stock, stuffings, muffins and dehydrates that we donate into the community.

Engaging with growingSOUL in the kitchen is Putting Stock in Your Community.

  • Diverted 501 tons of valuable nutrients out of our solid waste stream

  • Processed & Redistributed 1,002,721 pounds of​ ​produce​

  • Prepared & Donated 1525 gallons of soup, applesauce and braised greens, 5550 gluten-free protein muffins, 935 gallons of dehydrated fruit, applesauce and pumpkin seeds​

  • Fed the equivalent of 835,601​ ​meals valued at over $1,700,000 including Thanksgiving dinner for 3000 at-risk families ​

  • Donated and continue to share out 10,000 pounds of food weekly


Workforce Development,

Education & Advocacy

We work with our partners collaboratively to create educational opportunities based on reciprocity to become part of the sustainable culinary world.  

We work with volunteers ages 4-94 from all walks of life and partner with stakeholders from all aspects of food systems in our workforce, education and advocacy work.

  • Implemented a micro-enterprise workforce development program 

  • Supported immigrant students by providing the opportunity to get community college credit for our high school horticulture program

  • Developed apprenticeships for young people and adults with disabilities

  • Trained 482 volunteers for 3175 hours, and students for 820 SSL hours

  • Funded partial college tuition, food manager training and/or licensing fees for apprentices

  • Co-Founded the Montgomery County Food Council, acting as Coordinator and head of the Environmental Impact Working Group

  • Educational Co-Chair on Maryland Governor’s Composting Task Force

  • Vice-Chair of Montgomery County's Solid Waste Advisory Committee

Putting Stock in Your Community

Processing & Preserving

in the Kitchen