Current Leader

Matt Casteel

Matt Casteel
Location: Jackson, Mississippi Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Arts in Health and Healing, Behavioral and Mental Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Education, Environmental Justice, Food Systems and Nutrition, Maternal and Infant Health, Obesity, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Low-Income Communities, Men's Health, Older Adults (65+), Urban Communities
Healthy Soil Advocate and Founder
wurmworks, llc

Matt is a worm farmer, healthy soil advocate and Founder of wurmworks llc, in Jackson, Miss. He is currently focused on addressing our toxic relationship to organic waste and creating regenerative solutions that bring value to households and communities in the form of food equity and comprehensive nutrition for people and plants. He preaches the gospel of the “Poop Loop” and how creative, yet simple, approaches can help solve big problems in the local Jackson food system and the overall environmental and community health ecosystems.

The link from food production to preparation to consumption to waste has typically been viewed linearly, but our organic waste is an important resource that must be realized as a way to regenerate soil and improve production. Through my strategic initiative, Healthwurks JXN, I want to highlight the link between waste and food production as part of an interconnected food web. Better food production with compost made from organic waste equals healthier soil, healthy food, and, ultimately, healthier people. The Healthwurks coalition will focus on the waste side of the food system in Jackson, Mississippi, primarily the low-income black communities of West Jackson. The Healthwurks project will include fourth and fifth grade curriculum, physical resources spaces, a student-led podcast, and an annual climate event centered on food access and climate change actions like composting and saving seeds. Key collaborators will develop additions to current curriculum standards to bolster them with emerging science surrounding climate change and its connection to organic waste pollution, composting, and the connection of humans and human-created systems to the greater natural world. There will be a focus on how communities and selves affect and are affected by soil, air, water, and food.

Matt previously spent 10 years as a humanitarian meeting short-term needs in a reactive manner. After seeing massive corporate investment with little change in the global food system in a decade, he decided to reimagine and re-explore what food equity means on a hyper-local scale. Matt works with farmers, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, nonprofit professionals, and community-based organizations to creatively target the food-related needs most shared by the community.

Click here to watch Matt’s Legacy Project video.