Goterra is proving that we can do more with what we already have by turning food waste into something useful – maggots.

I hear you – who would want to produce more maggots? But Olympia Yarger, Goterra’s CEO and founder, believes we’re underestimating the power of the humble maggot. She identified two problems that maggots could fix: firstly, that a lot of household organic waste is being thrown out; and secondly, that if we want to keep enjoying livestock as part of our diets, we’ll need to find a better, more sustainable source of protein to feed them with.

She started out catching flies in her backyard, and then had to go through the process of figuring out how to get them to mate. After a lot of trial and error, Goterra now farms and grows the larvae at their base in Fyshwick, ACT, using custom made aviaries and food waste collected from the local Canberra region.

The maggots are fed at the larval stage using waste that would otherwise go into landfill, and bred up to be sent off as food for animals like fish, pigs, and chickens. Some of the larvae are kept and turn into pupae, and then flies. The flies mate and lay more eggs, which are harvested and hatch into more larvae to continue the cycle.

Olympia taught herself the skills she needed to commercialise this novel practice and now wants to revolutionise how we think about waste and our protein sources on a larger scale. They’ve now got a robot that they built themselves to automate some of the maggot-care. The robot helps to feed and weigh the maggot larvae as they grow. They are also experimenting with various different types of food waste to see if they can recycle types of scraps previously thought fit only for landfill.

Olympia wants to expand Goterra to enable communities nation-wide to recycle their food waste and generate sustainable livestock feed locally.

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