Chris Cano: Spirit of Gainesville nominee


Chris Cano

Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 5:32 p.m.

After graduation from UF, in September 2011 Chris Cano started an innovative and sustainable local business- Gainesville Compost. This business started a pedal-powered community compost network in Gainesville, Florida, and is sharing the innovation statewide through Chris's presentation at a 2013 recycling state conference.

Facts

Category: Entrepreneurship

About Chris Cano

Occupation: Compost Experience Officer

Years in Gainesville: 6+

With his business partner Stephen Kanner and volunteers, the group bikes around town to collect food waste from local restaurants, cafes and bars and turn it into rich and diverse blends of local compost and vermicompost.

Gainesville Compost benefits-

•Local Restaurants

•Home Gardeners

•Community Gardens

Gainesville Compost provides environmental information online via a website and a Facebook community now including almost 1000 followers. Community partners provide space and organic waste to the composting system. The partners include Porter's Garden (working with Florida Organic Growers/ FOG), Downtown Garden at the County Admin. Bldg. (FOG and County employees), Santa Fe CIED, The Repurpose Project, and others. He works long days, during rain and heat, to reduce the ecological footprint of solid waste disposal. Through the 'sweat equity' provided by bicycling and doing the hands-on work of composting, Chris has shown a personal commitment to sustainability that is inspiring to others. Chris is committed to continuing the important work of restoring soil quality, and sells the compost and soil enhancements at the Downtown Farmers Market (See photo also indicating his participation in local traffic safety promo program). Recently he has worked with UF YES summer students and the Forage non-profit.

If the idea spreads to a larger scale, there are multiple possible positive impacts- for example waste management savings that will also benefit the business community. Our School Board could partner to improve sustainability education programs and create more opportunities for vocational youth training. Local Work Force Boards will benefit if at-risk youth are offered part time summer and after school work training opportunities for composting programs. County extension agents can assist as technical experts. The Network of local Farmers Markets, and also Community Gardens can make use of the byproducts. Composting areas could be co-located with community gardens, in proximity to schools, faith centers, and other food waste generators. There are some land uses that generate compostable waste that could not likely be included in a bicycle based compost system, for example airports, but recent business trends indicate education for compost jobs is an important consideration for vocational training. Another education opportunity is CSA business opportunities for area students at Farmers Markets in local communities where the byproducts can be sold to the general public or barter traded with local farmers. We need good soil!

Chris brings a creative and collaborative approach to sustainable business in Alachua County.

Submitted by Kathleen W. Pagan

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