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From Maharishi University of Management

JULY 21, 2013 • ISSUE 217

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Sustainable Living graduate Molly Haviland


Students turning over a compost pile in the living soil class


Vegetables in the MUM greenhouse treated with compost


Evaluating soil quality by counting microorganisms

Molly Haviland — Microbe Herder

The daughter of a park ranger, Molly Haviland grew up in the mountains of Colorado and then worked as a hairdresser in Denver for ten years. Being part of an urban community garden and being able to grow her own food inspired Molly to change professions — she wanted to work outdoors and be part of a community. She searched for a sustainable living university and found MUM.

During her first year, Molly took a class by world renowned soil microbiologist Elaine Ingham. In that class, Molly found her mission: to restore soil, habitat, plant vitality, and thus the entire ecosystem. She accompanied Dr. Ingham to Rodale Institute for an internship and started serving as her teaching assistant for the living soil class at MUM.

For her senior project, Molly developed a curriculum for the living soil class and taught the first few days of the class herself. She graduated with a B.S. in Sustainable Living in 2013 and is now running MUM’s Living Soil Lab, where she analyzes soil samples and makes biologically active aerobic thermal compost, compost tea, and compost extract.

“The goal of the lab is to restore the vitality of soil through educating students and the community about the soil food web,” said Molly. “When the food web is present, then there is nutrient retention and cycling, there is water retention, carbon sequestration, reduction of weediness, and plant disease.”

The lab provides sustainable living students the opportunity to learn the full cycle of aerobic composting, which takes two to four months and requires daily monitoring. The compost is used for Fairfield clients and in the student gardens on campus. Molly also hopes to grow the lab from a business into an educational facility for the greater community that will provide job opportunities to MUM graduates.

“We’re very proud of Molly,” said John Collins, professor of Sustainable Living. “As a student here, she realized the importance of the soil food web for humanity’s sustainable future and has embraced her mission to build healthy soil with energy, creativity, and wisdom.”

“This has been a labor intensive process,” said Molly. “I am learning so many different intricacies of running a business, and TM allows me to have such a great rest. Also my education from MUM helps me understand how my specific niche fits into the picture as a whole.”

To find out more about aerobic thermal composting visit Molly’s blog, or email

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