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Rich Earth Institute hosts public party, performance, and presentations in Putney

For more information about the Rich Earth Institute, visit

PUTNEY—Wonder where it all goes when we flush it away? It turns out the nutrients in our urine are a hidden key to more sustainable soil, water, food, and energy.

On Saturday, April 13, from 3 to 6 p.m., at Club VT (formerly the Putney Inn, off Exit 4 of Interstate 91), the Rich Earth Institute will present University of Vermont professor Eric Roy and comedian Shawn Shafner for an afternoon of fun, food, and insights.

All performances will be family-friendly, kids are more than welcome, and there will be finger food in exchange for a suggested “nutrient donation.”

Since 2012, the Brattleboro-based Rich Earth Institute has worked to turn human urine into fertilizer. This pioneering work supports sustainable agriculture and protects vital water resources.

According to a news release, co-founders Abe Noe-Hays and Kim Nace will offer updates on Rich Earth’s work, as well as presentations on nutrient management in Vermont, and a comedic journey through humanity’s relationship with its outputs.

These outputs have serious consequences, such as nutrient pollution. Recently, more than $20 million was earmarked by the federal government to address nutrient pollution and algae blooms in Lake Champlain.

Come hear from local “nutrient donors” who are collecting and depositing their nutrients in Rich Earth Institute’s Urine Nutrient Reclamation Program, and how to become a participant. The winners of their 2018 “Piss-off” Contest, where Windham County residents compete to donate the most urine in a year and win the prestigious Zemel Cup, will be announced

Learn about the projects progressing throughout Windham County and how to join the movement to reinvent how we think about human “waste.” Participants are invited to bring questions and a full bladder.

Shafner is creator of The People’s Own Organic Power Project ( He has spread poop positivity on four continents, released three years of “Poopcast” episodes, devised two critically-acclaimed shows, and produced one feature-length documentary.

Shafner will perform excerpts of his new show, Assume the Throne, which has been touring the country since last fall.

Roy’s work at UVM’s Rubenstein School focuses on ecological design in the contexts of water quality, waste management, and food systems. He has researched nutrient biogeochemistry and management, ecological engineering and design, aquatic ecology, food systems, and material flow analysis.

The title of Roy’s talk is Nutrient Cycling: Mapping the Landscape. He will share results of his research in New England following the nitrogen and phosphorus flows to and from our farms, our bodies, and our waste water infrastructure.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #505 (Wednesday, April 10, 2019). This story appeared on page C3.

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