WHAT WE DO
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.
WE ARE CURRENTLY FOCUSED ON FEEDING OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED IN THE NYC AND MID-ATLANTIC REGIONS
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
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