Creating Climate Solutions and Empowering Youth
The New Earth Project is a community program based in Silver City, New Mexico focusing on:
● Food security
● Soil improvement
● Carbon sequestration
● Food waste reduction
● Youth employment
We are addressing urgent environmental issues by using regenerative and restorative practices that revitalize agricultural soils and reduce atmospheric carbon through managing soil biology. We also focus on educating, inspiring, and empowering youth in our community through educational activities and employment opportunities.
This project is a direct result of the 2021 Silver City Climathon hosted by the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance (UGWA), which residents brainstormed ways to initiate widespread composting in the Silver City region. UGWA then submitted a grant to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation for funding from a program called Environmental Justice and Climate Resilience that seeks to support environmental justice by empowering communities to search for solutions from environmental and human health vulnerabilities including those caused by climate related impacts.
The resulting project was one of only 5 proposals funded in this country and one of 15 in North America out of almost 400 applicants!
TODAY (after only one year):
● We collect food surplus from three school cafeterias and combine it with woody biomass, agricultural byproducts, and biochar, to put in Johnson-Su bioreactors. We currently divert approximately 1200 pounds of food waste from the local landfill every week!
● We are constructing dozens of Johnson-Su compost bioreactors. These are static composting systems that produce a fungal dominant compost that restores soil with living microorganisms.
● We host Climathons for 4th and 5th grade students. During these half-day Climathons, students learn about climate change, build boxes for vermicomposting in their classrooms, and make posters and videos promoting the benefits of composting.
You can watch the Climathon highlights using the link below:
● We conduct monthly classroom activities with students from participating schools to demonstrate the impacts of soil regenerative processes, including vermiculture, how compost and biochar affect seed growth, and the importance of native plants to this region.
● We host a monthly radio show on our community radio station, KURU 89.1 FM. New Earth Kids features youth of all ages who talk about the challenges facing our planet and how they are creating and implementing solutions. Listeners can access archived shows at the links below:
● We employ young people and provide meaningful jobs that increase their skills and understanding of our changing environment.
● As part of our community outreach initiative, we have:
- hosted two free community workshops in which participants could build and fill Johnson-Su bioreactors.
- arranged to sponsor a series of free soil-science classes that focus on ecological connections and land stewardship.
- provided a holiday tree chipping service for residents.
● We have strong alliances with the Gila National Forest Supervisor, Grant County Commissioners, Town of Silver City Council members, and a myriad of community-based food security organizations.
- Expand our food waste-collection independence to more schools in our region by providing countertop composting stations in cafeterias.
- Continue to construct and fill the Johnson-Su bioreactors at least once/week
- Create satellite Johnson-Su bioreactor filling stations in surrounding rural communities so they can collect and compost their school cafeteria waste along with woody and agricultural waste.
- Expand our youth employment opportunities and base by reaching out to university students and providing more internships for high school students.
- Expand our educational program to include additional schools in Grant County.
- Reach out to other communities in New Mexico and beyond who may want to use our program as a template for large-scale community-based composting in their communities.
- Host additional community workshops to teach about the various methods of composting including backyard composting.
- Share our fungal-dominated compost extracts with local farmers, gardeners, schools, and community gardens to help rehabilitate their soils, increase their yields, and create topsoil.
- Make our compost and extracts available for sale in wider markets to benefit farmers in other regions and financially sustain our program.
If you have any questions, are interested in learning more about our program, or want to get involved, please contact us at: