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Reimagine Food Story: The Art of Soil Collective

Posted on: September 14, 2023

The Art of Soil Collective (T.A.S.C. for short) was initiated by Dr. Karen Houle. This project is a culmination of her beliefs, values and visions for the future. Founded in 2019, T.A.S.C. has one goal: working together, not only as a community, but as a collective. While located in Guelph, the Collective attempts to be as inclusive as possible, and welcomes anyone willing to contribute to advancing a more sustainable, just world. 

As a weaver, Houle has spent many years strengthening the community’s connection to the land and broader food system. Currently, T.A.S.C. hosts five mini projects:

  • Food from Home = Food for Home;
  • Water Hostage Release;
  • Open Air Galleries;
  • My BF is a Mushroom; and 
  • Compost Queens of the Royal City 

Houle enjoys working directly with land, soil and food; and composting is the culmination of all three! So let’s dig into the Compost Queens of the Royal City. In addition to personally funding these projects and receiving other community grants, T.A.S.C. received $2,000 from the Guelph-Wellington Shovel to Fork Award to help build 2 locations for the project. You can spot the composters at the Two Rivers Huron Street Community Garden and on York Road behind Royal City Brewery.

These composting sites fuel the local circular economy! At the York Road location, the community composters have been a great way to engage local businesses in Guelph such as Royal City Brewery, the Guelph Grotto, Pura Vida Wood Co., Loft 199 Hair Studio and Na Ha Thai’s Kitchen. Food scraps, spent grains, sawdust, and hair is diverted away from the landfill and goes directly to the composter. Once the compost is ready, businesses are invited to help themselves. Leftover compost is distributed around the city by Houle.

The best part of this initiative is that everyone can learn how to compost. In the past, Houle has been invited to elementary schools to talk about compost. Houle engages with the students and coaches them about separating their lunch waste. Teachers will use the compost on the vegetables they are growing. Houle believes that experiences like these demonstrate that “all the circles are being joined”. 

“Local projects, they’re small, they’re tiny, but you can see the needle move and that’s psychologically needed now. I would like more people to trust that these projects work and do them themselves but communicate with me so we can show that the needle is really moving.”

– Dr. Karen Houle 

Stay tuned for next week’s feature article that dives into the Food for Home = Food from Home project. In the meantime, check out the Art of Soil Collective website to learn more about these projects.

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