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  • Writer's pictureBrenda Sanders

Marvin Hayes of Baltimore Compost Collective

Brenda Sanders interviews Marvin Hayes. Marvin has been a youth educator and mentor for over 20 years. His professional experiences include running recreation programming, alternate education, youth counseling, mediation services and youth workforce development. He has a patience and a presence with the youth that cannot be taught in the classroom, but has been cultivated by his lifetime of experience. He is the program manager of the Baltimore Compost Collective (Twitter: @bmorecompost) (Instagram: A service that collects over a quarter ton of food scraps each week to turn into nutrient-rich soil they call “black gold.” Marvin is an Open Society Institute-Baltimore fellow. He is passionate about redirecting the enormous amount of food waste generated by our food system and the ways composting food waste can combat environmental racism. The Baltimore Compost Collective initiative is leading the way on the path towards zero waste and so much more.

Some key moments in this podcast:

[ 2:50… ] Marvin talks about the valuable service and product that Baltimore Compost Collective provides to his community. “...we are a youth led food scrap collection service and we serve South Baltimore called the Philby Street Garden and we provide the soil enhancer

for residents who live in a food insecure/food apartheid…”

[ 3:26… ] Marvin explains composting and how it works and how they produce their superior product, called “Black Gold”: “...composting is the decomposing of organic material like

your food and vegetable scraps turned into a beautiful, beautiful soil enhancer…”

[ 9:01… ] Marvin discusses how “high risk kids” transform into leaders once they are given some direction and mentorship: “…I had the opportunity to work with some high-risk youth, but I call them my leaders because they all had the leadership and the entrepreneurial skills and the management skills that they needed to be leaders, many who were failing, 90% of them wound up being on the honor roll with just a little bit of structure and a little bit of care…”

[ 13:49… ] Discussion of how important composting is and how much of our food is wasted. This contributes to dangerous air quality that affects ALL communities: “...80% of Baltimore municipal trash can be composted, recycled or reused, so 22% of that is full waste and we divert that organic material and process it and turn it into “Black Gold” soil enhancer…”


Brenda Sanders is a vegan food justice activist who co-founded Thrive Baltimore, a community resource center that offers free classes, workshops, cooking demos and other programming that supports people in living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. She’s also executive director of Afro-Vegan Society, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to people in marginalized communities to assist them in transitioning to veganism, co-creator of Vegan SoulFest, an annual festival that celebrates culture and all aspects of vegan living and co-owner of The Greener Kitchen, a vegan deli and food distributor that produces plant-based foods that are both affordable and accessible. Brenda is also the host of Food & Justice, a weekly online video series and podcast that tackles issues of food access, environmental justice, health disparities, dietary racism, and other topics related to food and justice.



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Food & Justice w/ Brenda Sanders is a weekly online video series and podcast that tackles issues of food access, environmental justice, health disparities, dietary racism, and other topics related to food and justice.


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