Funders & Partners

The Rich Earth Institute has formed relationships with many individuals and organizations that share our vision and support our work.


National Science Foundation (NSF)  is an independent federal agency created “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” The Rich Earth is proud to be again be partnered with the University of Michigan and University at Buffalo for an NSF grant under the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program from Sept. 2016 through Sept. 2020.

USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) offers competitive grants to projects that explore and address key issues affecting the sustainability and future economic viability of agriculture. For three consecutive years, it has granted funds for Rich Earth Institute to conduct field trials using urine to fertilize hay fields, measuring crop yield, and analyzing nutrient content.

Urine as fertilizer: Maximizing hay yield and enriching low-N composts

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The Rich Earth Institute is proud to be included in the EPA/WERF-funded study as described below.

Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is America’s leading independent scientific research organization dedicated to wastewater and stormwater issues. Through the EPA, WE&RF has funded a two-year project headed by the University of Michigan, Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation, for which Rich Earth Institute is conducting the field trials. Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation

Private Donors Before we won our first grant, we were fortunate to have the support of many individual donors. These private donors have continued their support, and each year they have been joined by more generous individuals who appreciate the value of our work.



University at Buffalo is performing pharmaceutical measurements for the EPA study. Dr. Diana Aga’s analytical chemistry lab has developed cutting-edge techniques to quantify minute levels of pharmaceuticals in challenging materials such as plant tissues.

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan is performing the biological and nutrient analyses for the EPA study. Dr. Krista Wigginton and Dr. Nancy Love, of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, provide direction and leadership for the entire study.

Recode is an organization in Oregon that has been working to change codes that legalize an array of sustainable building and development practices.

Brown and Caldwell, the largest engineering consulting firm solely focused on the US environmental sector, is one of our collaborators in the EPA pharmaceutical study.

Hampton Road Sanitation District manages a large network of wastewater treatment plants in the Virginia Beach area. It is one of our collaborators in the EPA pharmaceutical study.

POOP (People’s Own Organic Power) Project uses art, education, and humor to promote critical conversations about sustainable sanitation for the person, planet, and world community. Its founder, Shawn Shafner, was guest speaker at Rich Earth’s 2013 Urine Donor Kick Off event.


Best Septic Service has worked closely with Rich Earth in pumping urine from collection sites and transporting it to the farms. Best Septic has also provided urine-only portable toilets for urine collection and community education at Strolling of the Heifers events (2013 and 2014).

Brattleboro Time Trade is an organization that facilitates the exchange of goods and services between members of the community. Tours of the Rich Earth Institute’s sustainable sanitation toilet systems are offered in exchange for help with field work and with event set-up and clean-up.

Brattleboro Waste Water Treatment Plant Plant manager Bruce Lawrence has given tours for invited guests of Rich Earth Institute and has provided winter urine storage.

Fairwinds Farm participated in the first SARE field trial in which urine was applied to hay fields. Jay Bailey, one of the principal farmers, has continued to work with Rich Earth Institute in all three years of the SARE project.

Get On Board Windham County is a Marlboro College Graduate School program that places young professionals as non-voting Fellows on local nonprofit boards. Two Fellows have worked with the board of the Rich Earth Institute.

Hope Roots Farm, a small farm in Westminster, Vermont, provides the test site where lettuce and carrot crops are grown for the EPA pharmaceutical study.

Whetstone Valley Farm in West Brattleboro, Vermont became our second site to participate in the SARE project field trial, applying urine to hay fields.


Brattleboro Department of Public Works, with Stephen Barrett as manager, has publicly endorsed the work of the Rich Earth Institute.

BuildingGreen, Inc. is an independent company committed to providing accurate, unbiased, and timely information designed to help building-industry professionals. Alex Wilson, founder of the organization, has written about the Rich Earth Institute’s work in the Brattleboro Reformer and in BuildingGreen’s monthly newsletter, Environmental Building News. At the invitation of company president Nadav Malin, the Rich Earth Institute directors participated in a panel discussion on urban water strategies at the 2015 Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA).

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) selected Rich Earth Institute as one of their top 12 Vital Projects for the 2015 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The selection of the Rich Earth Institute as a Vital Project publicly and officially acknowledges that our work will result in significant progress towards the Windham region’s economic development goals.

Windham Regional Commission (WRC), headed by Chris Campany, provides an essential link between local, state and federal government. The WRC has included the Rich Earth Institute in the Windham County regional plan.

Windham Solid Waste Management District has included the Rich Earth Institute in their regional Solid Waste Implementation Plan (SWIP), facilitating our application for state permits.

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