Earth Matter NY, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the art, science, and application of composting in and around New York City.
We offer a number of programs in various locations.
I was introduced to Earth Matter about four years ago, while teaching a class on urban agriculture and sustainability at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering. We planned a visit to the Earth Matter site as part of a trip to Governor's Island with 30 students. Though it was a particularly hot day in June, the enthusiasm of Marisa, Charlie and their EM team made our students quickly forget the heat as they became enraptured in Earth Matter's excellent compost workshop. Still in the early stages at Governors Island, the EM experience engaged students in exploring a range of compost possibilities, as they built a compost pile, tried out various types of turning compost bins, and got an up close look at vermicomposting in the worm bin. EM's hands-on approaches gave the students a chance to experience the science of decomposition, making for an extremely effective learning experience. We left enthusiastic to revamp our school's then small compost bin and have since grown to a much larger cafeteria to garden compost project. The trip to Earth Matter built student engagement in composting and was a crucial step in setting the groundwork for our own compost project.
As Earth Matter has grown, the educational possibilities at Governors Island have grown too. Last year, our Sunday trip to compost at Governors Island brought a class of 16 seventh grade students to participate in large-scale hand processing of GrowNYC food waste. The students' compost experience ws taken to a whole new level, as they helped to build a windrow including about 8,000 lbs of food waste in Earth Matter's "Hot Chicks House." Even with experience gained from our own school compost, this trip brought the students new understanding of the role of compost and the challenges and possibilities of handling the volume of urban food waste. With Earth Matter's wealth of knowledge and a beautifully orchestrated team approach, the students got to experience the kind of hands-on work that's hard to come by in an urban environment. Add to this their work with the garden, chickens and goats, and it's hard to imagine a bunch of city youth engaged in this kind of agricultural and environmental education just a short trip from our Manhattan school.
Having experienced a wide range of environmental education partners in and around New York City, I can attest to the truly outstanding experience gained from working with Earth Matter. The ability for students to learn by doing is one that brings incredible engagement and transfer. Students always leave our Earth Matter trips inspired to bring what they've learned back to our school community.
We are thrilled to work with Earth Matter this year again, and eagerly look forward to the opening of the Governors Island season. This time, we look forward to our visit coming to a whole new level: next week, I pick up a few of Earth Matter's pullets to raise in the classroom, both to emerse my students in the process of raising animals and to introduce the possibility of urban chickens for our own school garden at some point in the future. Earth Matter's support for building the capacity for environmental and agricultural classroom experiences is again supporting us in hands-on learning and their enthusiasm for bringing new ideas to life is what feels critically needed in urban public school.