GEM Duo Goes Green With Compost

The GEM co-owners Mary Kathryn Bass and Leslie Needleman show off their compost contents in the alley behind the Preston Center storefront. The mix of leftover products goes directly to the Texas Worm Ranch in Garland. (Photo: Chris McGathey)
The GEM co-owners Mary Kathryn Bass and Leslie Needleman show off their compost contents in the alley behind the Preston Center storefront. The mix of leftover products goes directly to the Texas Worm Ranch in Garland. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

Many organic eateries promote the concept of “going green” inside their establishment. But The GEM puts it into practice outside as well.

The owners of the organic juice bar at Preston Center are happy to provide the proof in the alley behind their building, home to a typical assortment of dumpsters and recycling bins.

Glance inside those belonging to The GEM, however, and the organic compost is fresh enough to be literally eaten right out of the trash.

Not by humans, perhaps, but certainly by the inhabitants of the Texas Worm Ranch in Garland, which is the sole recipient of organic compost from the juice bar.

“As a conscious capitalist, it’s something I have to do,” said GEM co-owner Mary Kathryn Bass. “It’s an extra expense that we don’t mind taking on because we like sharing what’s left of our juice.”

GEM customers have been able to enjoy juices and more for the past two years.
GEM customers have been able to enjoy juices and more for the past two years.

Usually, that’s a combination of pressed juice remains consisting of various fruits and vegetables, which make a perfect diet for the critters at Texas Worm Ranch, which raises worms for composting and organic gardening. The compost, in turn, helps to regenerate poor soil and suppress plant diseases.

“Our worms love the organic fruits and veggies from The GEM,” said Steve Clary, founder of Texas Worm Ranch.

Since they aren’t in the dehydrating business, Bass or her employees previously transported the compost themselves to organic farms in the Dallas area. But two years ago they formed a partnership with Recycle Revolution Dallas for twice weekly pickup. And it’s no small task, either: the juice bar generated and donated more than 33,000 pounds of compost last year.

The juice bar began more than two years ago near the intersection of Lovers Lane and Inwood Road, and moved to Preston Center about a year ago. In addition to a full menu of juices, the restaurant makes salads, soups, and smoothies, and sells other organic products.

Bass hopes more local businesses can become educated about the benefits of aggressive recycling, which tends to be more popular in urban areas on the West Coast than in Texas.

“It’s so clean and can be done so well,” Bass said. “Being organic is being good to the earth. We’re making a difference with our resources and reducing our footprint.”

This story appears in the June issue of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.

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