Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.10.04 PMGrey Bears is a non-profit organization that provides a number of recycling, repurposing, reusing, resourcing and related services to the community of Santa Cruz, CA. A vital part of Grey Bears’ mission is its Brown Bag program. Surplus food is picked up from local grocery stores, a food bank, and an agricultural food recovery distribution center on a daily basis and is stored in refrigerators until it is picked and packed. Thousands of pounds of food are picked up weekly. A portion of the food collected is overripe, moldy, damaged, or otherwise inedible. Grey Bears wanted to implement a system that could process this food waste on-site in order to keep the valuable materials in their local community.


In 2000 Santa Cruz County was granted funds through California’s state resource management agency, CalRecycle, to purchase and install two of GMT’s Earth Tub in-vessel compost systems. The County partnered with Grey Bears who provided labor, food waste, and on-going operations. Grey Bears has subsequently installed four additional Earth Tubs that divert all food waste and make a beautiful compost product.

The Tubs have assisted Grey Bears and the County in diverting 75 tons of food waste annually and 45,000 tons over 15 years. The high quality compost is sold to the local community, and demand for this compost exceeds its production.

Grey Bears have demonstrated what a resilient community can do for over 40 years! To learn more about Grey Bears: programs/compost/

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Ellen Hopkins is a compost consultant with GMT and an avid permaculture landscape designer.