|Dr. Lanette Sobel, M.S., D.P.M, Founder and President FEWF|
Dr. Sobel founded the Fertile Earth Worm Farm in 2009 and brings a depth of knowledge and experience in both business and science. Born in Washington, D.C., she earned a business degree at the University of Virginia in 2000 and became a serial entrepreneur, first in real estate and then in sustainability consulting for the hospitality industry. While in this business,
several waste audits for her clients led her to discover the massive impact food waste is having on the ecosystem.
Upon realizing that the only commercial option for disposing of surplus food in South Florida was to landfill, she decided to create another option.
Thus, Fertile Earth Worm Farm (FEWF) was born.
To date, the Company has diverted over 15 million pounds of food away from the landfill, transforming food scraps into animal feed and compost. Dr. Sobel is a certified permaculturist and certified commercial composter. In 2018, she earned a master’s degree in forest pathology and a doctorate in plant medicine from the University of Florida, and in early 2020, she returned to South Florida to focus on re-starting a state-of-the-art earthworm farm.
In 2021, Dr. Sobel joined the faculty at Earth & Life University in Mexico, teaching the first Spanish-language doctoral-level course on circular economies in the world. In 2022, she was also appointed to the board of the South Dade Soil & Water Conservation District, a quasi-governmental non-profit.
As of 2022, the Company continues to grow its clientele for food-waste disposal and focuses on producing the highest quality compost, vermicompost, organic fertilizers, teas and soil blends in South Florida. Dr. Sobel also co-founded the Fertile Earth Foundation in 2008, South Florida’s
only environmental non-profit organization focused on compost education.
My name is Matthew Eicholtz. I originally hail from just north of Baltimore, MD. While I grew up just outside of a large urban center, I had constant access to state parks as well as the local zoo and aquarium. These places along with the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet (RIP Steve Irwin) helped to hone my love for nature and wildlife.
In 2015, I earned my B.S. in Environmental Science and Technology from the University of Maryland and I then followed this by getting an M.S. in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida in 2019. One of the recurring themes of my studies was that anthropogenic impacts have had and are continuing to have grave impacts on global ecosystems.
Through my own experiences, including an environmental education internship and assisting with interviews of Baltimore City residents regarding their perceptions of social ecosystem services, however, I have deduced that a lack of education about nature’s services and self-imposed dissociations between humans and the “natural world” are not only primary drivers of this degradation but once addressed they may facilitate the development of tools and ideologies that will ultimately be integral to the necessary stewardship that this planet deserves.
With FEWF, I enjoy taking part in and witnessing the power of a circular economy. Not only does the procurement of our inputs limit the damage caused by the deposition of food waste into landfills, but our products promote the growth of fertile soils and food free from the impacts of pesticides.
Furthermore, I appreciate that all our products in some way serve as a healthy alternative to others which lead to degradation (i.e., runoff from conventional fertilizers, non-living soils, bioaccumulation of pesticides and contaminants, etc.). I look to use film and teaching as a means of spreading more awareness for our cause. While we are a for-profit business, I find much fulfillment in the prospect of introducing these ecological principles into the psyches of old and new generations for years to come.
I also really like rap and pizza.
Paul DeJesus is one of our truck drivers, here at FEWF. Hailing from New York City, he drove busses there for around 9 years and while there he focused on manifesting his dream of moving to Florida at an early age. In March of 2016, he did it!
Since then, he has been able to purchase a home in Homestead and ground into this environment by kayaking and snorkeling throughout the Florida Keys. He also works in animal rescue, fostering kittens for adoption through This Is The Dog.