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Liberty to lend a helping hand to GrowingSOUL

Derek Kirk
Posted 9/19/23

LIBERTY – Food waste has many uses. One non-profit, GrowingSOUL, is working to set up systems to make the most out of these scraps.  

Following a presentation before the Liberty Town …

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Liberty to lend a helping hand to GrowingSOUL


LIBERTY – Food waste has many uses. One non-profit, GrowingSOUL, is working to set up systems to make the most out of these scraps. 

Following a presentation before the Liberty Town Board, CEO and founder Jessica Weiss has partnered with the Town of Liberty to keep up the effort.

The past grant, which sliced out a total of $200,000 out of roughly $2 billion fund, was awarded to the nonprofit around a year ago. It essentially is to be used to extend existing projects that help to reduce organics from landfills. Wiess said, however, that there remains an existing $700,000 that remains unclaimed and will end October 4.

Town Supervisor Frank DeMayo noted that the nonprofit is aiming to apply for an additional estimated $175,000.

In order for the nonprofit to apply for the grant, it must go through a municipality — this is where the Town of Liberty comes in.

DeMayo noted that while the town itself would not see funds from the grant, the town would still benefit from helping the nonprofit with their application process.

In addition to moving towards a greener future for the town, DeMayo is thinking ahead in terms of projects down the line.

“It looks good for the town,” DeMayo said, “when applying for other grants in the future.”

Additionally, Board members noted the importance of the work done by the nonprofit.

GrowingSOUL’s current home base has been located at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Liberty for the past two years, but has a history of 14 years working to create sustainable food systems out of Maryland. This includes teaching organizations and individuals how to grow, preserve and recover food in order to fight scarcity and be more accessible.

Weiss noted that the grant that she wishes to apply for is to be used by the nonprofit to expand on existing programs.

Prior to Weiss’ moving up to Sullivan County, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provided a grant to the Town of Tusten for an anaerobic digester, a shipping container with a large composting machine inside of it. It creates biogas and liquid fertilizer, known as Second Helpings.

According to Weiss, they used it in Tusten but required a nonprofit to help utilize the digester tool. Weiss noted that she would like to see the products of the digester for municipal buildings and heritage site projects around the town of Liberty as well.

Weiss noted that because their offices are in Liberty at CCE, it made sense to reach out to the Liberty Town Board.

The Town Board moved unanimously to accept the request to assist the nonprofit.

Weiss also noted there are future projects that she would like to pursue, such as obtaining a giant freeze dryer that could be used to create new frozen foods to be used as treats.

The founder described the transaction between the nonproft and the town to act as a contractor and subcontractor to work to ensure any and all food and subsequent food waste is used to its greatest potential.

According to their website, GrowingSOUL, (Sustainable Opportunities for Universal Learning,) is “dedicated to educating the public about the vital role of human interdependence and reciprocity in developing and promoting a zero waste sustainable food system that benefits the health of individuals, communities, and our planet.”


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