The Full Story
Since 2015, Let it Rot LLC has been Palm Beach County’s only composting service. Founded as a solution to environmental stressors such as reduced landfill capacity, pesticide overuse, over fertilization, and dwindling soil quality; Let it Rot was established to alleviate a small portion of organic waste from the local landfill and generate high quality, all natural, alternatives to fertilizers and pesticides. Funded through FAU Tech Runway’s Business Plan Competition and the Kenan Social Engagement and Entrepreneurship Foundation, Let it Rot has been working with businesses and individuals to divert their organic scraps to Let it Rot’s worm colonies. Since then, Let it Rot and its efforts and experience has been featured in multiple publications, local, and national news.
In 2016 Let it Rot was launched with a partnership to the Palm Beach County Food Bank as a means of reducing its expired food donations using vermiculture. The grant also paid for a 6 month residential study term at Passion Vine Farm, a community land trust and cooperative housing and urban farm in downtown Lake Worth. During this time Let it Rot’s proprietary worm care routine and diet was developed. Here, more partnerships with many local businesses, landowners, and individuals were made, and the gift of worms was shared with many entities across Palm Beach and Martin County including many residential properties, community farms, and schools.
In 2017, founder Melissa Corichi, was certified as a Safe Compost Operator by the United States Composting Council. This required the completion of the 40 hour Compost Operator Training Course, hosted by the United States Composting Council at North Carolina State University. NCSU is also the home of Vermiculture Expert, Rhonda Sherman, who had been an inspiration and eventually a mentor to Melissa in the beginning phases of Let it Rot. Later that year, November of 2017, Melissa completed her Permaculture Design Certification under trainer Koreen Brennan at Our Permaculture Farm in Brooksville, Florida. These studies and certifications were all completed with the intention of building Let it Rot into the safest and most sustainable composting service possible- with continued participation in many webinars, workshops and conferences.
Today, Let it Rot has approximately 150 customers. This consists of residents and small businesses between Boynton Beach and Stuart. We have 6 community collection routes which average about 20 pick stops a route. Our pick ups are done in our company pick up truck and our materials are transported in 5 gallon LeakTite or Letica leak proof buckets. We provide these for all our customers after a one time sign up fee we take at registration. Each of our clients has granted us permission to retrieve these containers from their property on their assigned pick up days, which is agreed upon in our service contract. These containers are washed and sanitized prior to redistribution. The weight of all our pick ups is taken and recorded every stop on every visit. We track this information and provide individualized impact reports, as well as our overall impact to share with our customers at the end of the year.
To guarantee our finished product is safe, we use 3 different techniques with every batch of compost. After the thermophilic composting is over, we feed the worms, after about 3 months, the compost is moved to a different container and undergoes a finishing and curing stage with our worms. It takes 8 months to 1 year to turn the scraps we collect into our worm castings. In the 8 years we have operated we have never had a soil test come back contaminated and nor had a negative impact on any of the plants or gardens we have applied it on.
With the onset of Covid-19, Let it Rot faced a unique set of challenges. Most of the land we worked off of was suddenly inaccessible due to closures and public health restrictions. In January 2020 Let it Rot had four public or private properties we were working off of. By June 2020 we lost access to all of them. As a response to losing multiple partnerships and all our land, Let it Rot launched its CompHost program. A CompHost is a prescreened entity or individual on a farm, residential agriculture property, or an urban/community farm/garden that has requested one of our route’s loads get delivered to them. These accounts are initially set up following a brief survey with an interview and consultation to ensure they are well versed in compost technique. Each new sign up is also offered a free lesson and assistance with their first load. We stay available to help troubleshoot and answer questions along the way. This ensures proper compost technique is passed along to the homeowners as we continue to check and monitor each compost program.
Previously, Let it Rot has had backyard style vermiculture and compost stations are incorporated into each space we partnered with. Past partners include land leases with residential agriculture homesteads, small businesses, charter schools, community gardens, and local farms. As a passion project, it has been most important to continue running Let it Rot and its day to day operations despite the challenges and lack of resources we have faced. It is our goal to stand for and educate the community on sustainable, natural, and regenerative practices such as recycling, farming, gardening, vermiculture, and composting.
Let it Rot also offers many educational and garden services like consultations, maitenance, classes and workshops. We are one of the only established breeding colonies of red wigglers and african nightcrawlers in the tropical US. As active members of the International Worm Farming Alliance and the Institute for Local Self Reliace’s Nationwide Community Composter Forum, Let it Rot has stayed ahead of the industry standards, trends, and best management practices; attending conferences hosted by both and regularly attending webinars and online classes.
Now Let it Rot is working on establishing its first owner owned farm. After almost a decade of working with little to no resources and funding, we have made it! Our founder owned property has big plans to give back to the community that has supported us for so long! After we pass inspection and become a “bonafide farm” we have plans to offer many workshops, tours, retail space, and volunteer opportunities, and of course expand our squirmy kingdom!
As the dream that Let it Rot had when it started this business is becoming realized, it has become more important than ever to tell your friends and neighbors about Let it Rot and what we do. The more public support we gather the easier it will be to fight back against the SWA for our right to compost in Palm Beach County.
The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County has overstepped their jurisdiction. Their efforts to shut down Let it Rot is in violation of state law. According to Chapter 62-709 of the Florida Administrative Code, section 305, Exemptions, bullet 3,
“Composting of solid waste generated on-site or off-site, when there is no more than 100 cubic yards at any one time of solid waste to be composted or undergoing composting process and finished compost being stored for use.”
This explains why and how the Solid Waste Authority does not have the power to regulate this operation and especially not to shut it down completely.
The waste to energy plant, or trash incinerator opened in 2015-the same year Let it Rot was funded. The Solid Waste Authority claims that during the establishment of this facility they were granted Complete and Total control of ALL the trash in Palm Beach County. In the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, put forth by the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County and adopted into law in 2006, Rule V, Section 6, Point 1 “All solid waste generated within the county is the property of the Authority and must be delivered to an Authority Solid Waste Management Facility, or a Designated Disposal Facility.” This essentially claims that Let it Rot is running an illegal waste processing site and is stealing from the Solid Waste Authority. However, Let it Rot has never claimed to be a waste management facility. We have always collected organic waste as a feedstock for our worm colony and we produce worm castings, not compost.As anyone who has tried to buy soil knows, Let it Rot does not make compost to sell, we make compost to feed the worms. The worms eat and poop and we harvest their poop, process it for safety, and offer that as an alternative to fertilizers and pesticides. Worms are considered Livestock in America and vermiculture (the raising of worms) is not regulated in the state of Florida (there’s less than 1 worm farm per county in Florida State, we are a small industry of weird people).
With Let it Rot’s current community compost collection program we barely reach a cubic yard of raw materials a month and it is processed, applied, or used before any part of our operation accumulates that much volume to store. Since operating we have weighed and recorded the waste we collect and have years of data to show how small the volume of waste we work with is.
Our customers are all taught what is acceptable as part of our compost program and our compost is collected in 5 gallon airtight buckets. Our service contract allows them to be picked up from any location of our customers choosing within their property. We do not accept anything larger than 5 gallon containers as a safety precaution. According to the Integrated Plan for Solid Waste, appendix e Rule IV, only roll away carts are regulated by the Solid Waste Authority which are too large for the waste we accept with our collection program.
To sum this up, Let it Rot has always followed the local and state laws to operate as safely as possible. We go above and beyond the industry standard for processing and safety; and we do not need to be regulated by the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach since we are exempt from their best management practices because we are a small scale worm farm and not a waste processing business.
Let it Rot should be allowed to continue all operations in Palm Beach County as there is a desperate need for our service here. Environmental awareness and impact is VERY important to the local residents of Palm Beach County, especially the ones who choose to use my service. This is not a service the county provides, nor does it have any intentions of providing, despite the demand in the local economy. Let it Rot not only fills this need but also challenges industry norms and sustainability efforts, and innovators and industry disruptors should be nurtured and supported, not bullied and shut down.
Please help us stand up to the Solid Waste Authority and fight with us to bring composting to Palm Beach!