Sunburst Unlimited Inc
Rating: 5 stars 10 reviews
Issues: Food, Environment, Economic Development
Location: 1917 1st Ave. North Great Falls MT 59401 USA
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.
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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!
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