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MailTribune.com
  • Down and Dirty

    Women bare all for calendar to promote composting
  • MIAMI — Ms. April is a smiling blonde with slender legs that end in 3-inch heels.
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  • MIAMI — Ms. April is a smiling blonde with slender legs that end in 3-inch heels.
    A typical calendar girl, except for one thing: She is covered in poop.
    Fish poop, to be exact.
    The coquettish model is just one of the 12 "Ladies of Manure" — barely clad local gals willing to pose in and around the most unlikely of plops, er, props.
    But the calendar is for a good cause, a scatological celebration of the environmental benefits of composting.
    "The whole point of this is to make it less disgusting. If this hot chick doesn't mind smearing fish poop all over her, maybe it's not that bad," said Lanette Sobel, who started the Fertile Earth Foundation, the South Beach, Fla.-based nonprofit behind the calendar. "It's a resource; It's not waste."
    Sobel, 34, dreamed up the project to get other people thinking about organic waste as much as she does.
    The result is a pictorial calendar that the ladies hope will encourage urbanites to start composting their waste — veggie peels, fruit rinds and even feces (animal and human) — into fertile black soil.
    For just $25 online (www.fertileearth.org), you can own a 12-month calendar that features the semi-naked manure babes.
    The pictorials are equal parts bombshell glam and bathroom humor.
    In the calendar, a long-haired brunette poses on a commode with pink lace panties stretched across her booted ankles. Another lays on grass, cupping her breasts while worms crawl through a patch of inky dirt piled over her nether regions. Still another crouches near a banana tree, her outstretched arms covering her bare chest while lifting rotting fruit peels.
    Each picture is accompanied with a brief bio about the featured girl. All of the models were chosen because of their work on environmental issues. The photos were snapped around the Miami area: at the outdoor composting latrine at Earth-N-Us Farm in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood; at Fertile Earth's Homestead, Fla.-area farm, where the organization is growing veggies and medicinal herbs fertilized by worm poop and compost; and at a South Miami-Dade County fish farm.
    Before she was a Lady of Manure, Sobel was known more as the Lady of Earthworms. She sells red wigglers (and the excrement they produce) in an online store and out of her South Beach apartment to people who use them to compost waste. She also travels to schools around the county to teach kids about how worms turn organic garbage into dirt, hosts workshops about how to use the creatures for composting, and runs the earthworm farm in South Miami-Dade County.
    "Worm poop is awesome," said 28-year old North Bay Village resident Julia Poliadis, who posed Lady Godiva-like for the calendar atop a pooping horse, wearing nothing but a yellow flower tucked behind her ear.
    Fertile Earth is funded mostly through its worm sales, with a few out-of-the ordinary fundraisers such as the new poop calendar. One recent fundraising event was a cook-off to bring attention to invasive, non-native species in South Florida. The winning dish consisted of python chili, wild boar sliders and snakehead fish 'slaw.
    "What I like about Fertile Earth is that it's about awareness and education — and the other part is actually doing something about it," said 28-year-old Priscilla Carolyn, of Miami Beach. "It's like, 'Invasive species are an issue, so let's cook them!' "
    Sobel was inspired to start the environmental nonprofit four years ago after diving into Miami Beach's hotel garbage bins. She suited up and dove in for a project she worked on as a visiting researcher at Florida Atlantic University.
    "We were doing waste audits from the hotels, and we saw a massive amount of organic waste coming out of these hotels," Sobel said.
    The trash bins were full of prep waste from hotel restaurants, grass clippings from landscape work, day-old bagels and croissants, and even a like-new pineapple, she remembered.
    "When we looked into what to do with organics, there were no options in the county except landfills. And then when I started looking into it, I realized how detrimental landfills are," Sobel said.
    That's when she turned to composting and created Fertile Earth, which she runs out of her apartment and now has a faithful core of about eight members.
    "Our objective is not to reach the fellow tree huggers, our objective is to reach the masses," Sobel said.
    Carolyn — an on-call massage therapist at a swanky beach hotel — hopes to encourage people to take a more natural approach, even in a city known more for glitz than muck.
    "We're 2013, poop-loving hippies who live in Miami Beach, the capitol of fake boobs," she said.
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