by Micah Wilkins, web editor
Compass Green, a non-profit mobile greenhouse project, visited campus Oct. 26 through Oct. 29. Justin Cutter and Nick Runkle, the founders and creators of the project, drove the greenhouse that they built to Warren Wilson College to give a lecture on sustainability, to teach the method of double-digging to the Garden crew, and to hold an all-day bio-intensive gardening workshop.
Compass Green was created in order to expose others to sustainable methods of gardening and teach practical farming skills. Cutter and Runkle hope specifically to reach those who are unaware of these types of ideas and practices.
“We put together this green house so that we could take sustainability to people who don’t normally give a hoot about it,” Cutter said. “They see our green house roll into their town, into their school, sometimes right up to their house and people start asking questions. We’re able to reach new audiences this way, and we’ve found it really useful for that.”
Cutter and Runkle have been driving their mobile greenhouse across the country since March, visiting communities, camps, organizations, and schools especially to teach everything from how a plant grows to grade-schoolers to principles of sustainability to high schoolers to demonstrations of methods of gardening to other farmers.
“We hope to inspire people to start growing more sustainably and to grow a greater percentage of their own diet,” Runkle said.
Cutter and Runkle not only hope to bring the lessons of sustainability to new audiences, but they also hope to teach veteran farmers and gardeners about practical techniques that have a greater yield, but require less work and strain on the body in the long run.
This is what they hoped to achieve with the double-digging demonstration they gave to the Garden crew Oct. 26. According to Dean of Work Ian Robertson, who attended the demonstration, Cutter and Runkle are bringing back the use of “good, old-fashioned gardening techniques.
“This is nothing new” Robertson said.
Though Cutter and Runkle are only 27 and 26, respectively, they have years of experience in farming and sustainable agriculture practices, both within the country and abroad.
In order to raise the initial funding for their project, they created a Kickstarter account to raise money, donated by backers who pledge a certain amount. The fact that the project was funded by Kickstarter, by two young men, was particularly impressive to Jay Bost, professor of Sustainable Agriculture, and was one of the reasons why he wanted the pair to visit campus.
“I thought Seeing young people who started dynamic non profits would be inspirational [to students],” Bost said. “So many of the students here want to do positive impacting things in the world and the logistics of starting a non-profit may be difficult. This seems like a really accessible model for students to do, if they want to start their own non-profit or other project.”
Once Cutter and Runkle received their necessary funding from several generous sources, they got to working on the truck, building the mobile greenhouse all day long, in order to get it ready to drive around the country.
“Now we’re doing the part we actually love, which is the actual teaching,” Cutter said.