Soil Festival Spotlight: Corinne Coe of Terra Nova Compost

Photo courtesy of Ebrima Ba

Photo courtesy of Ebrima Ba

We are excited to welcome Terra Nova Compost back to this year’s Soil Festival for workshops with their passionate leader Corinne Coe. This lady waxes poetic about composting, making even the most novice of gardeners mad about her craft. We had an opportunity to talk with Corinne last week and hear more about how she got into composting and her thoughts on why healthy soil is so important for sustainably growing our own food.

Quoting American writer and environmentalist Wendell Berry Corinne explained, “‘What could be more superstitious than the idea that money brings forth food?’ I appreciate the use of the word superstitious because he could have used the word belief, but it’s as if we really believe without any evidence that if we have money we can eat. And you know, we have degraded the earth to the point now where that might not always be the case.”

Soil, she says, is “the foundation of self-sufficiency and food sovereignty.”

Corinne has childhood roots in Atlanta, but her roots in composting started out California. In 2008, she took a master composting class, which then inspired her to start educating others. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she was asked to join an organization she had volunteered with previously to work on improving soil conditions.

She spent two years in Haiti and decided to move back to Atlanta in 2013. What she found was a robust urban agriculture scene with lots of folks talking about composting, but few that were actively or, more importantly, productively doing it. Ultimately, she along with some local farmers decided to found Terra Nova Compost because when you make your compost, she says, it’s full of life. Without microorganisms and macro-organisms in your soil it can’t continue to take care of itself, which can lead to issues when growing food like pests and low yield.

“Small scale and community composting is really important,” explains Corinne. “We have backyard [composting] and we have large scale [composting], but we need the middle for the community.” This gets to the heart of exactly what we love about the Soil Festival and the environment it brings all of our community gardens together in one place to talk about the bigger picture because community gardens are the middle.

By learning best practices for composting and ways to improve the soil, we can all help one another in this fight to produce locally grown, healthy food and lead to better outcomes for our community. Join us and Corinne for a day filled with great local educators, exhibitors, workshops and raffles all in celebration of the difference we can make through improving our soil!

Register your community garden for this year’s festival at