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Podcast 52: Waste Not----Compost! With Chief Seedleafer Ryan Koch

Chef Ouita gets her wish to spend an entire radio hour with Seedleaf founder Ryan Koch. As he describes the history of Seedleaf and his hope at the outset that gardening could be useful to people experiencing homelessness or mental illness, Chef Ouita jumps in to say this:

That's something that gardening and cooking have in common. A lot of times if you're feeling really stressed or isolated . . . when I'm really not on top of my game, if I take time and go in the kitchen and just cook and not worry about stuff, then everything starts to fall back into place . . . Allows you to sort the information out in your head. Gardening? Even more so. 

Ryan says he grew up in suburban California, "blissfully unaware of where our food comes from." Kentucky inspirations included Wendell Berry and Three Springs Farm co-founder David Wagner, pointed the way toward gardening's goodness.

As Seedleaf's 15 gardens face cooler weather, Chef Ouita's question about what this year's most popular garden harvest evokes an unexpected response: sweet potato vines and leaves, with some pumpkin leaves thrown in. And Chef Ouita promises a recipe for Kentucky chow-chow, a pickly relish that uses ingredients that are plentiful right now.

Ryan describes Seedleaf's history as a serious force for composting, aka "waste as a resource." Starting in 2009 with 10 restaurants willing to have their pre-consumer waste picked up and composted, Seedleaf now has 35 compost partners. Instead of sending food scraps packaged inside plastic bags to landfills, where these scraps produce methane, these same foods, once composted, can build soil health.

Composting forever, people! Be like Ryan Koch and Seedleaf.




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