Commercial and consumer-targeted compost companies continue to become a part of the local economy in many regions on the US as the needs to reduce waste and rebuild local economies collide. It is a happy marriage of demand driving an existing-yet-untapped market to the benefit of the business owners, the local community and good old Mother Earth.
According to a recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one such business owner has seen his compost business soar as he turned his attention to food scraps.
Leaves, grass, horse manure. These have been Mike Bacon's primary ingredients, until now.
The scrappy, cigar-smoking 63-year-old has spent the past dozen years turning the trio of components into rich, crumbly compost, the degraded organic matter that gardeners prize for enriching their soils.
But in the past six months he has added a magic ingredient: food scraps.
"The food waste is a better enhancement to get a better product," Bacon said this week, standing not far from a house-high pile of steaming horse poop. "We blend it together. We have a recipe."
Bacon has become an evangelist for turning leftovers and scraps into an ingredient for good soil, and last year his Route 66 Organics became the first facility in St. Louis County to get a permit to process food waste. Six months later, several area companies are using his services, including Monsanto Co., Schlafly and Sappington Market.”
The timing couldn’t be better for a national economy that has seen better days and a surge in focus on the health of the planet.
“With food prices climbing, seed and gardening supply companies have reported a surge in sales as people turn to their backyards to grow a little of their own sustenance. Compost makers have seen a similar rise.
‘We've seen an uptick in 2009, 2010 and 2011. There are an awful lot of people growing vegetables, whether it's because of food prices or because they just want to do it themselves,’ said Patrick Geraty, owner of St. Louis Composting. ‘With fuel prices so high, people are staying at home more, and they want their yards to look nice.’
Simply put, the time is now to stop just taking what the earth gives us and start utilizing the natural resources and tools we have at our disposal to not only enhance the health of our communities and planet, but the health of our economy as well.