Atlas Organics dumps 20 tons of compost

September 21, 2016

GREENVILLE, SC – Atlas Organics, the Upstate’s first food waste reclamation company will deliver 20 tons of organic compost to Reedy River Farm’s half-acre plot at 1168 Pendleton Street at 9am, and Legacy Charter Elementary School 10am Friday, September 23.

The event marks the dawn of a full-circle local food industry in the Upstate. Food bound for landfills instead becomes organic compost for gardens where schools like Legacy Charter provide healthy food and hands-on learning to children, and businesses like Reedy River Farms supply restaurants like Bacon Brothers and Coastal Crust with fresh, culinary-grade ingredients.

Anna Lange, Senior Manager of Recycling Market Development at the South Carolina Department of Commerce, will highlight how this development advances “Don’t Waste Food SC,” a statewide collaboration among the state Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling. The agency removed hurdles to food-waste compost earlier this year.

Atlas Organics and its partners show the enormous impact organic compost has on the local food system, with intense community involvement from business, non-profit, and education groups.

  • The compost comes from excess food from area healthcare facilities, corporate, schools and grocery centers.
  • Food grown at the Pendleton Street site will supply neighboring Coastal Crust restaurant and other food businesses.
  • 1 in 6 South Carolinians is food insecure, yet the state produced more than 600,000 tons of food waste in 2015.
  • Ninety-nine percent of students at Legacy Charter School come from low-income households and receive three meals daily at school.
  • It’s a national trend: the US Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency announced goals last year to reduce cut food waste 50 percent by the year 2030.

The delivery will help Reedy River Farms double its output. The growers had previously sourced compost from up to 200 miles away.

“We’ve identified a demand for high quality culinary-grade produce,” said George Dubose of Reedy River Farms. “This additional plot helps us more consistently supply restaurants and chefs. Compost is basically the most important production input in our business: there isn’t really any fertility to speak of in urban environments.” He added, “It’s not hard to imagine that some of the food we sell to restaurants might wind up back in our compost,” Dubose added.

Reedy River had been searching for more urban farm land when Amy and Dev Vaz offered their Pendleton Street investment property at no cost.

“As luck would have it, I started seeing announcements that new local restaurants would be located a stone’s throw from the plots. These establishments could be supplied by the wonderful bounty of Reedy River Farms.  In this short period, this is more progress on Pendleton Street than we could have imagined, but we are overjoyed, and we hope similar new businesses will continue to choose the Village of West Greenville,” said Amy Vaz.

The two parties were connected by Feed & Seed, a food hub initiative to bring local agriculture to a regional scale. “As we strive to build the local food system, this exemplifies the great things we can do together,” Executive Director, Mike McGirr said. “Atlas takes what had been waste and turns it into fuel for the local food system, fertilizing new food businesses like Coastal Crust. This is a case study in how waste from our schools, hospitals and businesses can – and will – turn our fallow fields into vibrant, healthy foods that feed us and our children.”

Feeding children’s minds is another payoff of the collaboration.

“Our elementary scholars are actively involved in planting, tending, and harvesting from our school garden. This compost donation will allow us to involve more lessons aligned to science standards and the experience of hands-on science, as well as cross-curriculum lessons in math, writing, art, and history,” said Margaret Scieszka, Math and Science Instructional Coach at Legacy Charter School. “We are grateful to be included in this collaborative project, which allows the greater community to participate in the education of our scholars.”
About Atlas Organics

Atlas Organics recycles food waste, turning it into a valuable soil amendment to promote sustainable agriculture and landscaping.

Atlas has diverted over 2.65 million pounds of food/compostable waste from the landfill. Along with  green waste, the total diverted from the Twin Chimneys landfill is 5.3 million pounds.