SUNBURST UNLIMITED INC

Rating: 5 stars   10 reviews

Issues: Food, Environment, Economic Development

Location: 1917 1st Ave. North Great Falls MT 59401 USA

Mission: Our mission is to educate and guide organizations, neighborhoods, and communities in developing a sustainable local food source through composting, gardening, and year-round greenhouses.
Programs: Gardens from Garbage is a city-wide initiative in Great Falls in collaboration with the City of Great Falls and the Great Falls Public School Electric City Agriculture Academy to develop community, school, and residential compost sites.  This community campaign has two goals:  one: annually producing hundreds of cubic yards of "good growing dirt" from thousands of tons of food waste while starving the local landfill while reducing greenhouse gas emissions;  two:  promoting the use of the "good dirt" to develop school and community gardens, thus providing locally grown nutritious food for children and families. Sunburst initiated this program in response the the need of Montana families to have local food sources.  There are 47,000 Montana families without "food security", and a large percentage of food cost is the cost of transportation to our stores.  Available nutrient-rich compost encourages families to grow their own food. 

2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

Sunburst Unlimited is an important, focused, energized organization that has demonstrated an amazing ability to bring together local food producers, hunger agencies, schools, and the general public to work toward the goal of building a sustainable local food economy one backyard (and one school) at a time.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Promoting locally produced, certiied organic specialty grains and healthy eating. Installed a Bokashi composting bin at our workplace

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Clone it's founder Mike Dalton and install him in every Montana community.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you find this group?

personal contact

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

donaton of tons of food grains and legumes to Great Falls Food Bank and Great Falls Rescue Mission

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

Sunburst Unlimited hosted our second annual FRESH FOOD FORUM. We far exceeded our expectations last year and then aagain this year. We had 150 people attend in 2011 and over 200 attended our Forum at the College of Technology in Great Falls Montana. This organization is devoted to helping people learn about their food - the necessity of buying locally and, if possible, teaching them the value of raising their own food. Sunburst Unlimited also is promoting composting of our food wastes and we make a product called "bokashi" that is a compost accelerant, using "cold" composting with no smell, no turning and good dirt in 60 to 90 days! The Executive Director of our organization is totally dedicated to Sunburst - giving of ALL of his time to help, whether it be in with the School system, making the bokashi, going to other organization to teach them the value of the composting method or working with the local Food Bank.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Review from Guidestar
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Sunburst Unlimited is one of the few non-profits that puts every ounce of volunteer efforts and funding into its philosophy of making our environment and community a better place to live. The board members and volunteers find out-of-the-box solutions to seeming conundrums and then follow through to implement those solutions. Of course, by finding non-typical solutions, the status quo is challenged so a part of all that Sunburst Unlimited accomplishes is taking baby steps to change that status quo. Sunburst Unlimited demonstrates integrity, courage and innovation.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

*A tiny seed can have a global impact! As president of Gardens From
Garbage with a background in architecture and green, sustainable design, we are truly planting seeds in our community. The awareness and emphasis the organization has on the creation of a sustainable food source is having the intended ripple effect in our community, state, and even at a national level. The Fresh Food Forum that took place here in Great Falls last weekend was proof that 200 like-minded people and 20 local vendors attended and share in our concern. The Forum met its objective by bringing together local growers/producers and local buyers. The Gardens From Garbage seed is
growing!*

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What is unique about this organization?

This is an all-volunteer organization. We have no paid staff, and yet the Executive Director gives about 40-50 hours of his time to the nonprofit every week. These are folks who are passionate about what they believe and and working to really make a difference in the Great Falls community. Our goal is local food sustainability, and we are definitely on the right track to make an impact!

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Sunburst Unlimited has rescued me from the drudgery of composting. I live on two acres in Montana. Winters are dark, long and cold. I plant my garden around Memorial Day and figure that by Labor Day, it could freeze anytime. My soil is crushed granite interspersed with large rocks. No self-respecting worm would live in it.

I am also a person who believes that if it is a bio-degradable substance, why pay to have it hauled away? For years I tried to compost anything and everything I could – grass clippings, leaves, trimmings from my garden and garbage. But composting by traditional methods takes more organization, time, energy and planning than I have ever been able to muster so I always had lots of green and brown material with little garbage. I could never seem to get it watered enough, turned enough or layered enough to decompose properly. During the winter, I just dumped my garbage onto the top where it promptly froze until spring. When it thawed, it became a rotting, smelly mess that attracted flies and skunks. It was, overall, a very unrewarding experience.

Then I learned about organic fermented material – Bokashi. Sunburst Unlimited introduced me to this anaerobic cold composting method and in one short year I have no more smelly compost pile, my garden soil actually is starting to look like soil and I have worms! Using Bokashi and a bucket, my garbage (including leftover meat, fish, fat and catfood) transforms into a fermented material which further transforms into dirt when dug into my garden. No smell, no flies, no skunks. In the winter, after one bucket is filled I just put it into the storage shed where it freezes and I start another bucket. In the spring, I create trenches throughout the garden, layer in the contents of the buckets, cover with dirt and by the time I am ready to plant, I have only rich, dark soil to plant in. And the grass clippings and leaves? They make wonderful mulch.

Sunburst Unlimited does so much more than make and sell Bokashi. With minimal staff and dedicated volunteers, they work with schools; getting the students involved in cold composting (Bokashi method) their leftovers from school lunches and snacks. They work with community gardens and have a seemingly unlimited array of innovative programs to help create a supply of fresh, wholesome food that is local. They are always willing to answer questions and teach individuals and groups about sustainability. Since I live 100 miles from their home-base, I have not been able to be involved in all their programs but I am a member and a fervent believer in what they do. Being able to compost year around means we reduce the amount of trash in landfills. By growing and consuming local food, we reduce the dollars going out of Montana to truck produce in as well as reducing the amount of gasoline used to haul produce in.

If you love the soil, believe in sustainability and the concept that local food is healthier, call Sunburst and volunteer! At the very least, join their organization and help spread the word!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

This organization has been built on the dreams and inspiration of one man, with the consistent efforts of Board members and volunteers. It is the dream of Michael Dalton to bring local food sustainability to his community and the surrounding area. He has inspired and led all of us with his dream to create a foundation upon which to build and meet this goal. Composting in the elementary schools started in 2010 with the production of a product called bokashi. The event called the FRESH! Food Forum brings together growers and buyers and furthers a farm-to-school agenda. The Foster Tomato Program ensures that fresh food gets to the Great Falls Community Food Bank. The energy of this all-volunteer organization is amazing, and the progress continues toward gardens dedicated to the Food Bank, and the development of a licensed commercial kitchen and food processing plant. One of these days, we will have no food insecurity in our area!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way that I am able to be of service in the community. This organization is held in very high esteem, and it is an honor to sit on the Board and help further the goals.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

increase its ability to find funding sufficient to meet its needs, so that the

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Development of a network of gardens dedicated to the Great Falls Community Food Bank in the downtown area. These gardens will have a social enterprise aspect, so that the families who work them will also be able to feed their families.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Development of a farm-to-school program. This entails creation of a licensed community kitchen and food processing plant that will hire and train the unemployed. It will become a regional food processing hub.

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I am pleased to share this review of Sunburst Unlimited Inc. I have worked with and served on many boards in the non profit world and found Sunburst to be a strong organization bent on a strong mission. Sunburst remains true and passionate to their mission. It is truly a noble and much needed mission. Sunburst is deeply committed to our community being able to feed ourselves with healthy food coming from our various modes of community gardens, composting and the true example of building community and sustainability.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

Sunburst Unlimited has helped numerous local organizations and schools implement Bokashi composting systems. The Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) has collaborated with Sunburst Unlimited to build Bokashi composting bins at the Helena Food Share and Carroll College. Sunburst's willingness to provide support to our staff and the staff of these institutions was generous and reflected their commitment to addressing food security and other community food system needs. Sunburst Unlimited's "Captain Compost" can be counted on to share his expertise in engaging and kid-friendly ways wherever the need may arise.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Quite well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

As a past board member and now a volunteer for this organizaton I have found that the impact we can have on people and this earth must start with a single act, either individually or as an organization. This organizations passion is to help people help themselves by showing them how to do a simple thing like composting food waste and how to use that compost to help build better soil to grow their own garden. I have seen first hand the impact the organization has had on the llives of peope interested in bettering themselves. I would recommend this organization to everyone.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Composting my own food waste and seeing how it improves the soil in the garden.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Get more volunteers. Need more experience in marketing the organizations message.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Helped me talk to people I do not know and share with them my experiences with the organization.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

I felt like I made a difference in the lives of the people I talked with.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Having been involved with Sunburst Unlimited and Gardens From Garbage for several years now it still amazes me how much we have changed, how much we have changed peoples thinking, how much we are growing and how much there still is to do! Having just wrapped up the 2nd Annual FRESH Food Forum and feeling like we spread the word so very well. All our participants, all our vendors, all our volunteers made the morning a huge success! People came with questions, they got them answered, they now know that Sunburst and Gardens From Garbage is the place to go for future answers to their composting, buying/using locally grown produce/meat...Thank you Sunburst for your vision and keeping us all striving to be better to ourselves and our environment and most important, helping those who need an extra hand.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?