If you've ever toyed with the idea of a kitchen compost -- or growing tomato plants in your own feces, for that matter -- but didn't know where to start, there's a Miami-based organization called Fertile Earth Foundation that would like nothing more than to help you become less wasteful with your, uh, waste. And if this talk about growing tomatoes in your poop didn't get your attention, maybe their calendar of near naked women bathing in tubs of fish excrement will.
Lanette Sobel, creator and co-founder of the Foundation, had the idea for the calendar while at a workshop on a farm in Homestead. "Something inspired me to say, 'I love poop,'" Sobel said, "and one of the other girls, actually a model for the calendar, she really took that to heart. She said, 'I wish more people would say 'I love poop.' And that sparked the idea for a project that would get people more connected to poop, something many are so disconnected from now."
The end result is a whole year's worth of women in their birthday suits and bathing suits, basking in piles of cow feces, squatting on toilet seats, and slathered in all kinds of South Floridian shit. Each calendar shoot was staged on a different sustainable farm in the region, and each model was chosen not just for her lovely lady lumps, but because she contributes in some way to sustainable living in South Florida.
"They are all amazing women," said Sobel of her sexy, shit-covered sirens. "Many of them are originally from South Florida. A lot of them have formed their own organizations. Jennifer Secada, for example, did Architecture for Humanity [an organization that seeks architecture and design solutions to global social humanitarian crisis], one has an environmental magazine, another is working on developing aquaponics farming in Puerto Rico, and another is involved with bringing the Moringa Tree, a very nutritious plant that can help eliminate hunger, to Africa. Many of them are certified permaculturists. So they're very smart and passionate women," Sobel said.
Priscilla Schmidt is a certified permaculture designer and a model for the calendar. For her shoot, her first modeling experience, she had to squat half-naked on a composting toilet. But it was worth it, she said. "Despite the shocking name, this calendar is a tasteful synergy of art, sustainability education, and good ol' sex appeal," Schmidt said. "In the male-dominated world of composting, it is quite unusual to find such a large group of females who are willing to get their hands dirty. It's even more rare that they're all incredibly hot!"
Fertile Earth is selling the calendars at 25 bucks a pop through a Kickstarter campaign. The group plans to funnel the proceeds toward funding a number of its initiatives, including bringing "worm workshops" to Title I schools. These workshops are aimed at educating students - and teachers - about composting and recycling.
In the past, the organization has also partnered with several hotels, stadiums, and other institutions in order to divert still-edible food discards to families in need or, in some cases, to feed animals. Before engaging in this project, she did extensive research, which involved more than a little dumpster diving, as well as more mathematical methods, to discover some staggering statistics -- for example, that Miami hotels generate 40,000,000 pounds of organic waste every year. With this in mind, Sobel said one of Fertile Earth's goals is to expand its reach to help more large-scale facilities direct their "waste" away from the landfill.
"Landfills are like holding cells," Sobel explained. "Researchers in Arizona did a dig 50 years deep into a landfill, and found newspapers you could still read and a hot dog still in tact in the bun. Things are not breaking down in landfills because they're so tightly packed, there's not enough air and moisture to let things biodegrade. And a big part of what they try to do is to keep moisture and air out," which doesn't help matters much, Sobel said. This all results in a toxic sludge at the base of our landfills, which inevitably leaks into our ground water, especially since the water hides just feet below the surface of the soil in our communities, Sobel said.
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"The point is, when you throw something away, there really is no 'away,'" said Sobel. "This calendar is to get people to think about waste in a different way, and to educate them about how they can handle their waste differently."
While at least one of the calendar girls can proudly boast that she composts her own used tampons and yes, her own fecal matter, Sobel says she would be happy if you just tossed your carrot tops into a compost under your sink. "You don't have to wait for the government to start a composting program," Sobel said. "You can do it in your own home. It's very freeing."
You can buy the poop-riddled calendars (just in time for the holidays!) through the group's Kickstarter page.