This group reaches are community in so many ways. One of my favorites is the foster tomato program. Coordinating with area nurseries, they get tomatoes plants. Then, share . Those plants based on a voluntary agreement that a I portion of the harvest is donated to meals on wheels or the food bank. Wow!
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.
Review from Guidestar
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.
Review from Guidestar
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.
*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
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.