Starting an Anti-Oppressive Collective Business in LA
Equal Action is launching a new project called the Los Angeles Worm Farm Collective, a small business in which we produce worms, worm castings, and worm tea that people and organizations can use as natural fertilizers to grow their own food and plants. In this business, all the workers are business partners who own the business equally (rather than being owned by people with money who do not do the actual work) and work within a clearly-defined nonhierarchical, collective structure (rather than some of us being bosses and some of us being employees).
We want to offer better job opportunities for those who may experience limited options and oppression in the workplace, including queer and trans* folks, youth and young adults, people of color, and those from low-income and working class communities. Together, we are developing a business in which workers:
- engage in meaningful work that harnesses community strengths to improve community health and quality of life
- make decisions about how our work is done and how our organization is run
- contribute to an anti-oppressive work environment that allows us to be our best selves
- receive training and gain the skills required to actively participate in an anti-oppressive, cooperatively-owned, collectively-run vermicomposting business
Ultimately, we want to contribute to the growth of the alternative economies movement in Southern California by trying out our own business and then supporting each other and others in realizing a variety of community-minded business ideas. Some ideas we have thrown around include a coffeeshop, a power tool library, a kitchen tool library, a childcare collective, and safe space dance parties. Throughout history, there are so many ways that our queer and trans*, people of color, and low-income communities have worked together, shared resources, and cared for each other. We want to continue these legacies.
Building a New Worm Farm
We first experimented with the most common method of worm farming – throwing vegetable and paper scraps into a worm bin – to discover that this system yielded an insufficient amount of worms, worm castings, and worm tea for a small business. We are now constructing a sophisticated new farm with the generous mentorship of Don Martinez, a worm farmer with a successful commercial/community operation in Pasadena. Our new worm farm setup will better mimic worms’ natural environment so that the worms will consume organic matter, produce excrement, and reproduce with each other at higher rates.
Want to support us as we set up our new worm farm? We are currently seeking the following equipment:
- compost tumbler
- compost bins
- wheel barrow
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation of any of these items to Equal Action, please contact Stephanie at email@example.com. We are also open to purchasing equipment at low-cost or trading.
While the website for the Los Angeles Worm Farm Collective is under construction, you can check out our (very recent) past life at lawormfarmcoop.wordpress.com. Subscribe to this site to stay tuned, and we’ll migrate you over when we launch the new website.
Thanks for your support as we embark on this exciting journey into youth-oriented, qtpoc (queer trans* people of color) collective business in LA!