Our ‘living’ systems are composed of carbon residue, microorganisms, minerals, and red wriggler worms. The resulting material is remarkably fertile, giving plants access to the nutrients needed for both plant growth and for human nutrition. The “closed-loop” ecological approach to this system allows for the clean up of contaminants in the soil, for digestion and transformation of food waste, and for the production of fertilizer that is far more effective than chemical treatments.  The high microbial count in our system helps fight off soil disease and breaks down food waste rapidly, keeping plants strong and healthy.


Our compost is made with recycled food waste, farm waste, brewery waste, and coffee grounds.  Bread, dairy, or meat products are not included in the compost.  The product of Vermicomposting (intensive composting in boxes with worms) is also added to the growing system.  The resulting worm castings are a low impact, completely sustainable product that has the NPK ratio of a strong fertilizer and the perfect pH for planting vegetables.  The compost and castings are added to fields and raised beds as mulch, a soil amendment, and in the form of foliar teas.  In the urban growing environments raised beds are built called “Living Biological Worm Systems;” these beds are constructed with a layer of raw compost seeded with a healthy worm population and then capped with castings and/or topsoil.  These raised beds maintain their fertility with little or no amendment for up to five years. 

Compost 101: Growing Power Style

Food Waste


It all starts with food waste – food waste literally by 

the truck load. Not only does Growing Power compost 

all of our farm waste in Milwaukee, Merton, and 

Chicago, but we also pick-up food waste from 

Maglio’s Produce, Beans and Barley, Garden Fresh, and  Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative  in Milwaukee, just to name a few. We collect over 400,000 lbs. of food waste per week!




Brewery Waste


Milwaukee is famous for its beer, but what happens to all of that 

brewery waste? At Growing Power it becomes worm food. We collect over 48,000-64,000 lbs. of brewery waste from Lakefront Brewery every week. 




Coffee Anyone?


Did you know worms like coffee too?  Since 2000, Alterra

Coffee has delivered the used coffee grounds from their

Prospect Avenue café to our vermicomposting bins at 

Growing Power Food Center and Training Facility.

We also collect the coffee grounds from Northwestern Mutual's cafeteria. It is a great nitrogen source.  We collect over 1,400 lbs. of coffee grounds a week.



Extra! Extra! Read all about it.


Or for those of you not reading the newspaper, we compost over 500 pounds of newspapers per week 

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Need some other options for your compost pile?


Growing Power also collects:



Cardboard boxes;

Grass clippings;

Mildewed Hay;

Leaves; and



For those of you counting, Growing Power composts more than 43 million pounds of waste per year!

That's a lot of waste not going into landfills every year.




Milwaukee Headquarters:  5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218

Tel. 414.527.1546 / Fax 414.527.1908

Chicago Projects Office:  3333 S. Iron Street, Chicago, IL 60608

Tel. 773.376.8882