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A Traveling Farm…On A Bus?

Retrofitted Bus Runs on Waste Vegetable Oil

We just finished filming a really incredible group of young people for an episode of our TV show, Growing A Greener World.

Sol Food Mobile Bus Crew

The Sol Food Bus Crew (L to R): Eliza Bordley, Ellen Duda, Dylan Hammond and Reid Rosemond

The TV story will air on PBS in December and is about these four farmers (aged 22-23) who are traveling and living in a retro-fitted school bus. They are on a six-month journey across America to teach people (mostly children) how to grow food and live sustainably.

The retrofitted bus runs on waste vegetable oil

The bus is a traveling classroom and mini-farm that runs on waste vegetable oil they collect from fast food restaurants along the way. This is oil that would otherwise end up in a landfill. They process it themselves and use it as fuel.

The bus is also equipped with a:

  • greenhouse (to grow starts for various garden stops)
  • living quarters (4 bunk beds & mini closets)
  • mini-office/kitchen area
  • green roof (to cool & insulate their sleeping area)
  • solar panels (giving them 10 hrs of power/day)
  • rainwater catchment system (to water the greenhouse)
  • and worm composting system.

And it was all built by the bus crew themselves using reclaimed/recycled materials.

Sol Food Mobile Farm Bus

That’s right! They are living on a school bus and using a waste product to travel 12,000 miles.

But there is more to the story than that!

Eliza teaches elementary school kids about sustainability

As I started writing the episode a few months ago and working closely with the bus crew, I was incredibly impressed. These young adults are the kind of people I hope my kids will grow up to be.

They are hard working, passionate, environmental stewards who want their bus to serve as a model of sustainability.

The Idea and Mission:

They came up with the idea of traveling the country in a bus (get this!)…while in middle school. 

Yes, you read that right. They thought this up when they were only about 11 years old! As they grew up, so did their vision.

As young adults the idea developed into a mission of service to others. They are using edible organic gardening as their means of teaching and sharing. 

Filming the Sol Food Bus crew in Seattle, WA

Fueled only by kickstarter donations, vegetables and probably a lot of coffee, they give to others while getting to see America. Along the way, they are learning as much as they can about farming, our food system, organic practices and more. They plan to share that knowledge with others along the way and beyond.

Cool, right?

A Very Special Visit

We have been following the crew since they started in Durham, NC three months ago. When I learned that the bus crew would be traveling through Los Angeles last week, I offered up my home as a rest stop along their journey.

You see, there are no bathrooms or showers on the bus!

They have to rough it to say the least! By staying here they could have showers, washing machines and few home cooked meals. In return, they visited several local schools and met with kids from Kindergarten through High School. They even gave tours to the middle school engineering lab and the high school environmental science class! Good times were had by all!

I set up their school visits and then got to tag along to document the experience. Wow! The teachers, kids and entire neighborhood went nuts for the bus! Plus my kids got to spend time with some great role models who read books and play musical instruments in their spare time instead of playing video games. They even taught my kids to juggle. Ha!

I was made an honorary 5th bus crew member when we had so many kids at one location, I had to start conducting tours as well. (Good thing I had written a whole TV episode about them so I knew all the facts.)

Me hanging with part of the bus crew

Even the local CBS news showed up and did this piece.

You will learn all about the bus and their travels when the GGWTV episode airs in December. I will post here when it does (you might want to subscribe to my feed or newsletter so you don’t miss it!). But in the meantime, I wanted to give you this sneak preview. You can follow along the remainder of their journey on their website. They posted HERE and HERE about their time in Los Angeles.

The bottom line is that these guys are working hard to spread the word on sustainable living and growing food. It is an honor for us to feature them on our show.

Goofing around with an "album cover" pose. (L to R) Reid, Dylan, Ellen, Me, and Eliza.


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.