The city of Rochester, like so many other American cities, is not a very good ecosystem. We fill garbage bins every week with material waste generated from inside our homes, almost half of which is organic material that could be used to create rich organic compost. Outside our homes, our lawns could be a source of food for beneficial bees and butterflies, but instead we maintain a form of non-native perennial rye grass that needs to be maintained constantly. We spend hours mowing it with a noisy, gas-guzzling lawnmower, break our backs weeding or spray chemicals that stifle pollinators and run into our streams and rivers.
The lawns we cultivate are part of a national obsession: over 35 million acres of lawn exist in America, more than all the corn and soybeans that we grow put together. The acres and acres of lawn in Rochester, if it were converted to growing food for pollinators and people, could feed the entire city. Instead, we drive to the local grocery store to buy vegetables grown an average of 1,200 miles away. The produce we purchase there may have taken weeks to arrive and may sit in the produce aisle for at least another week before it is disposed of in the incinerator or landfill. It may find its way to pig farms or to the food shelves, but ultimately, a large percentage of it won’t be eaten at all. Meanwhile, a health and nutrition crisis is looming, another symptom of our disconnected lives.
Food insecurity is a real problem for many thousands of people in Rochester, especially for people of color and new immigrants. Food deserts, areas where there is lack of access to nutritious food, contribute to food-insecure households suffering from the psychological and physical effects of poor health. Our way of life is disjointed and fractured, which leads to wastefulness and scarcity existing side-by-side, some households with too much, others with far too little. What do all of these problems have in common?
Revolutionary Earth is dedicated to restoration by reappropriating waste and eliminating scarcity in both the natural and the human urban ecosystems. Through our Compost Commonwealth, we reclaim organic material from the waste stream for healthy soil, Through our Farm, we transform urban backyards into thriving gardens and habitat. And through our Alliance, we eliminate scarcity in resource-deprived human ecosystems.
Rochester Area Foundation
Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation