Angelica Gastelum, Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center
The Thriving Earth Kitchenistas Recycling Organics Program teaches Kitchenistas how to recycle organics in their own neighborhood. Kitchenistas are community health leaders and graduates of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center’s Cooking for Salud® program. The bilingual program began at the request of our Cooking for Salud graduates' desire to engage in composting efforts, and the need to educate our community about SB 1383 and its goal to divert food waste. The program teaches the benefits of composting, hands-on turning, collecting compost from the community and further equipping them to teach in their own communities how to collect and recycle food scraps. The Kitchenistas are a group of over 325 community leaders that engage and support community participation through a culturally relevant lens.
Thanks to a partnership between Olivewood Gardens, the Fleet Science Center, South Bay Sustainable Communities, and Thriving Earth Exchange, a group of 21 Kitchenistas participated in a several-week long training to become community composting champions. After completing the program, participants are now able to bring their food scraps to Olivewood Gardens as their 'hub' for continuing education and neighborhood composting. The program has collected 1,000 lbs. of food waste that has been diverted from our landfills and is being harvested by our participants to use in their home or community gardens. In fact, Kitchenistas have been inspired to start their own compost at home, and others like Virginia - a Kitchenista from the 8th generation of graduates- decided to go bigger. She's invited her neighbors to start a neighborhood composting program!
This program is building a community composting network and inspiring environmental advocates in National City and San Diego’s South Bay.