28 September 2020

Grind to Ground, the new social enterprise turning coffee into compost

| Sharon Kelley
Plant growing in ground-coffee compost.

Grind to Ground is a new social enterprise set up by students at CIT. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

A new social enterprise called Grind to Ground is the brainchild of a team of students at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) who are applying their skills in community development to solve three different problems with one ambitious and sustainable idea.

While the students involved were initially given the assignment to devise a project that would see them coordinate across CIT departments, and across the community and business sectors, it has turned into a labour of love and a passion.

Grind to Ground will officially launch at the CIT Plant Show – to be held at CIT Bruce campus on Saturday, 14 November, 2020, from 9 am until 1 pm – as a sustainable business that collects clean sawdust from the CIT carpentry department and combines it with clean, used coffee grounds to create soil or compost enhancer which can be added to home gardens to enrich the soil.

The social enterprise will employ people living with an intellectual disability, and is currently gearing up to produce the first batch of soil or compost enhancer.

Most coffee grounds and clean sawdust is thrown out as landfill, however Grind to Ground intends to solve that problem and provide meaningful paid employment for people living with an intellectual disability.

From left: Lily Waymouth, Jess Thomas and Liza Pozzato at CIT.

From left: Lily Waymouth, Jess Thomas and Liza Pozzato from the Grind to Ground team onsite at CIT. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“We’re all going to be involved for a long time, not just until the assignment is due,” says Grind to Ground team member Lisa Pozzato. “We all decided that at the beginning [of the project]. We can’t start a business like this and then leave once the assignment has been marked.”

The Grind to Ground team is currently looking for cafes and restaurants to donate coffee grounds, and volunteers to pick up the coffee grounds and transport them to the CIT Bruce campus where they will be mixed with sawdust and packaged into bags for sale.

“We really need people to donate their used coffee grounds,” says Grind to Ground’s Lily Waymouth. “And we need volunteers to get them over to the Bruce campus where we will make the compost.

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“And if anyone can donate clean sawdust, with no glue, putty or contaminants in it, we are going to need that, too.”

The Grind to Ground team is also currently working with community organisations to ensure employment opportunities are available for people living with an intellectual disability.

“It can take so long for a person with an intellectual disability to find a real, meaningful paid job – sometimes years,” says Lisa. “I know a person who left school at 18 and it took until she was 23 years old to find a job.

Lily Waymouth at work with shovel.

Lily Waymouth working hard on the Grind to Ground project at CIT. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“Everyone deserves the right to have meaningful paid employment which they enjoy, and the benefits of having a job are the same as they are for everyone else – an income, social contact and a feeling of achievement at the end of the day.”

CIT community development teacher Libby Bailey says her students, who are studying for their Certificate IV in Community Development, are committed to making Grind to Ground a success, and are planning on using their two-week holiday to work full-time on getting the social enterprise started.

“This is more than just an assignment for the Grind to Ground team,” says Libby. “There have been many great ideas that have turned into social enterprise businesses that have come from CIT students, such as Cafe Yala, for example.”

If you would like to volunteer, or donate coffee grounds or clean sawdust, contact the Grind to Ground team by email, or through Facebook or Instagram.

Original Article published by Sharon Kelley on The RiotACT.

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