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"Changing our relationship with Soil"- Loop : Froome and the economy of life

by Zak Gratton

The key principle of Loop:Frome is… you guessed it, Loops. This refers to the circular economy: One that not only up-cycles, but transforms and regenerates. Our work with food waste, compost and soil is our first example of a circular and regenerative system.

We plan to move beyond this beginning, creating a new regeneration network within Frome. We aim to achieve this by uniting with other groups, businesses, and individuals. Collectively forming the vision of a new circular community. Harnessing the power of cooperation, rather than competition.

Loop began in 2020 as the theme on Edventure Frome’s Start-Up course, in which a group of young people worked together to create a social enterprise. A year later, we’ve collected more than 10 tonnes of food waste from local businesses and transformed this into rich living compost. We’re (almost) breaking even financially, meaning we can start to prove that our model works and is replicable. Then we can get on with the next steps in our journey to find new ways to tackle climate and environmental problems in ways that represent regrowth and regeneration that actually improve and enrich the way we live in alignment with natural systems and boundaries.

You can see more about all of this in our 2022 film Soilful produced by Loop’s Ben Still & Be The Earth

Another important part of Loop is enabling local people and businesses to minimise their environmental impact. Just a few people run Loop at the moment, but really the whole community is an integral part of the story. Together we can go beyond sustainability because the soils we create from otherwise ‘waste’ have a regenerative impact - locking in carbon, healing ecological networks, boosting climate resilience, growing healthy foods, and then it all loops back around. Thea who runs the fabulous Hamper Sandwich Shop in Frome put it like this:

“As a small independent food business in Frome, it’s important for us to be as sustainable as possible. Knowing not only where our waste goes but what it’s being used for and how it gives back to the community, there’s nothing else like this.”

Every now and then, often when cruising our electric trike up the hill out of Frome to our composting site, I get a powerful feeling that we are part of something bigger.

The hot mess of climate change and environmental collapse can easily become overwhelming and disempowering, the enormity and urgency is too much to process and solutions feel dwarfed by the realities of bullshit late capitalism. We can overcome this by thinking about emergence.

Throughout nature (which includes human societies), uncountable tiny interactions and processes together form systems which are bigger, more complex, more intelligent and more beautiful than could be predicted by the sum of their parts.

So, dragging a stinking trailer of warm food waste and slopping it into our Ridan turns from drudgery to an act of love for the planet and all its inhabitants. It all starts and ends with the soil and we forget this at our peril. We also miss out on something truly magical, the continual dance of life and death, cycles of creation and recreation. Changing our relationship to soil is the key to the future of humanity, and we’re so excited to be a tiny part of that.


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