How do you beat hunger and food waste? Try compost

Reunity turns restaurant scraps into soil — and connects Santa Fe with rural farms in the process.

 

“Food waste is killing the planet.”

So said Mother Jones Magazine in September 2013. It’s estimated that our national food waste, stored in landfills, contributes as many climate change-causing greenhouse gases as the emissions from 33 million cars. In Santa Fe, Reunity Resources set out to do something about that. A small company co-owned by Juliana and Tejinder Ciano, Reunity formed first to collect food scraps for bio-diesel. By 2012, the limitations of bio-diesel became clear, and the Cianos turned to the idea that collecting food waste from restaurants and public schools could furnish a fledging composting business. It took eighteen months for Reunity to win the contract from the City of Santa Fe to collect commercial food scraps. 

Today, almost three years later, the composting initiative is creating enough topsoil to mulch nearly two acres per month. Reunity donates the compost to Santa Fe Community Farm, where the composting project is based; in turn, the farm donates 70 percent of its food crops to local hunger initiatives, Food Depot and Kitchen Angels. Farmers in rural communities buy the Reunity compost and attest to its impacts on plant growth and carbon sequestration in the ground. Ellen Berkovitch followed Juliana Ciano around for a couple of months with a microphone, and has the story.

This story is part of the "Small towns, big change" project through the Solutions Journalism Network.