The Good City Soil Project was launched as an experiment in social entrepreneurship. We wanted to build community around a simple idea – sharing good soil with urban gardeners would lead to healthier neighbors, an improved environment, and a more liveable city. As we launched the project we had a few questions that needed answers:
Do urban gardeners want soil?
Can we find organization and other partners who will work with us?
Is sharing soil with people at whatever cost they can afford a sustainable model?
The growing season nears its end and it seems like a good idea to share what we learned.
Yes– Urban Gardeners want soil. Over the course of five events we were able to share 20 cubic yards (8000 cubic feet) of soil with our neighbors. We met over 100 urban gardeners through these events and had even more connect with us through Facebook. People told us they were using the soil for everything from one tomato plant on their back stairs to covering large patches of lawn with raise beds.
Yes– We found a number of partners. Most people ended up reaching out to us. We partnered with four organizations and a number of individual volunteers. Our volunteers contributed their time, energy and resources to the effort. The organizations we partnered with to hold events shared their abundance with us and we were able to share with them. Overall the relationships we built were reciprocal, we were able to give and receive in ways where everyone’s needs were met.
Yes– When we consider the costs and benefits of this project holistically it is a sustainable model. Financially we spent more than we made but came closer to breaking even than we would have expected. Our revenue was a mix of contributions from people who came for soil and donors who wanted to support the project. Our costs were mainly labor, soil, and contributions to the nonprofit organizations we worked with.
Expenses = $1600.00 Revenue = $1300
It is difficult to provide similarly concrete measurements of our environmental and social impacts but I believe we can say we came out on top in those areas. Midway thorough the summer we began sourcing our soil directly from Vermi-Green. They mix topsoil with worm compost and using their soil has environmental benefits. We also know there are quantifiable benefits to people growing plants in the city that we hope to get a handle on in the future. We also know there are benefits to people coming together around a pile of soil. People got to know each other, shared knowledge, and shared their talents. There was a net community building impact.
The Good City Soil Project turned out to be a good idea. As we look to next spring and our potential for growth we are optimistic. Please take a minute to do one of the following if you would like to make a contirubtion to the further success of this project:
On July 11th the story of our soil share was captured as photographs by Jenn Poggi. These images do a great job of illustrating the power of this project as neighbors from across the county came together to contribute what they could to building community through gardening. At a time when there are many forces acting to disconnect us it felt good to connect by getting our hands dirty together.
Through this project we set out to learn out a little bit more about what it means to meet each other’s needs by sharing in a spirit of reciprocity and altruism. In a very short time we have been inspired by the resources people have been willing to commit to the project. Our community is truly abundant in its willingness to help others. We still have a need for donations to cover our costs and are accepting any other offers to help we receive. We appreciate anything you can offer to the growth and sustainability of this project.
Join us on Saturday July 25 for the final soil share of the season. We have partnered with Flower City Noire Collective for this event.
How does the Good City Soil Project Work?
We want urban gardeners to have healthy soil to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs in. We have several yards of soil compost mix from Vermi-green LLC that we want to get in people’s hands.
1. Find something to carry the soil home in and shovel to collect it with. We will try to help if you don’t have anything.
2. Stop by during the event and take as much soil as you need.
3. Contribute what you can to the project’s sustainability. We want people to find a balance between what they can afford and what they think the value of the service is to them. At the events we cash, paypal and credit cards through our paypal account.
Community building, ecological improvement and healthy people. These are the goals of the Good City Soil project. We believe that a simple idea – sharing healthy soil for gardening with our neighbors has transformative power. Our project is growing and we need your help.
Since we began just a month ago, the response has been breathtaking. Almost one hundred gardeners from across the city have participated in the project. We have distributed over a dozen cubic yards of soil to the folks that need it. The work of the Good City Soil Project has empowered and educated first time gardeners, connected neighbors to each other, and of course provided healthy soil to community members who are volunteering their time and talents to their neighbors. We couldn’t be more pleased.
As people learn about our project the most common question we get is “If we are just giving the soil away how will Good City Soil pay for everything?” This is a question we spend a lot of time thinking about. The project was launched with an initial investment from the founders and friends. During our first three events gardeners stopping by for soil have contributed what they can to the project’s growth. While we are currently brainstorming ways to build sustainable systems (like giant compost piles) for next year we are at a point in our startup phase where we need to ask for additional monetary support to continue this important work.
Our goal is to raise about $800.00 to cover our expenses and we are counting on community members like yourself to contribute to the work. Your support will make you a partner in achieving our vision of a better community through healthy soil for gardening. More specifically you will help us fund our event planned for July 11 and future activities currently in the works.
Please click “Support Good City Soil’s Work” button below to contribute. If you are not in a space where contributing is a possibility we would still greatly benefit from your help by promoting our social media presence by liking and sharing our work. If you would like to discuss other ways you can get involved in facilitating this important work, please reach out. We would love to hear your thoughts!