Closing the Loop: Compost at Community Spaces

The Jackson Hole Land Trust is excited to announce a partnership with WyoFarm Composting, underwritten by Brent and Shelby Belote, to fertilize the landscaping at the Greenspace on the Block and Rendezvous Park. Using premium compost made from locally sourced inputs, the JHLT is reducing its carbon footprint, diverting food waste from the local landfill, and supporting local business by participating in a closed loop composting system. The JHLT is thrilled to continue building a healthy soil system to ensure the longevity of the verdant landscaping at our favorite community conservation spaces.

 

Jackson Hole Land Trust: Curtis, when did you start Haderlie Farms and when did you see the need to start WyoFarm Composting?

Curtis Haderlie: Haderlie Farms started back in 1945 when the farmland was purchased by my parents. Originally a dairy farm which later added a beef operation, I got involved in 2001 and transitioned the farm to include growing vegetables and cut flowers.

As for the start of WyoFarm Composting, that’s been a more recent development. I was inspired in 2013 by Whole Food Rescue and Healthy Being Juicery and began collecting and feeding their leftover food scraps to my pigs. Although I’ve been composting as long as he can remember, I amped up my composting operation in 2018 with the creation of WyoFarm Composting. By increasing community partnerships to include more restaurants and consumers, WyoFarm Composting has moved closer to creating a closed loop composting system for the greater Teton County region.

 

JHLT: Can you talk about your goal of operating a local “closed loop” composting system?

CH: In industrial agriculture, often soil nutrients are depleted to the point where additional materials or nutrients, usually in the form of chemical fertilizers, are purchased from an outside source. In a more holistic approach, soil biology is maintained by feeding the micro- and macro-organisms that should thrive and produce all the nutrients needed by plants. When I was in college, they did not talk about a holistic approach to soil biology. That has changed–there is growing recognition of promoting healthy soil biome instead of simulating it with chemical inputs. One popular nitrogen source is anhydrous ammonia, a chemical that’s easy to apply on a large scale but kills beneficial organisms living in the soil.

A closed loop means you’re not purchasing outside inputs, instead producing necessary fertilizer right there on the farm. In my case, it’s compost. Using a waste product like food scraps makes sense both financially and holistically. As industrial agriculture depends on diesel and chemicals like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), when those prices go up so does food price. A closed loop composting system insulates Haderlie Farms from those price fluctuations.

 

JHLT: What makes WyoFarm Composting different from the competition?

CH: WyoFarm Composting is particular about what is used as feedstock, or input, for the compost. For our feedstock we collect a lot of food scraps, especially from Teton County, but do not accept yard waste because it typically is contaminated with pesticides, which would taint the compost. As for competitors, some of the more recognized and commercially available composts are made from biosolids recovered from waste treatment plants that can include pharmaceuticals (and whatever else might be flushed down the toilet) like hormone disrupting chemicals, some of which might not break down during the composting cycle.

WyoFarms Composting works hard to ensure that all inputs are clean and free of pesticides and harmful chemicals. Plus, being in Thayne means we’re local and have a small carbon footprint, due in part to the cyclical nature of commuting to Jackson to deliver our produce and pick up compost and food scraps to take back to the farm. We are the number one consumer of our compost – it’s used on the farm to fertilize the food we grow. And, in a process known as full circle nutrient cycling, consumers participate in the WyoFarms Compost program which returns leftover food scraps back to our compost pile.

 

JHLT: Can you talk about the local composting pick up program that businesses like Healthy Being Juicery participate in?

CH: Any business and/or individual can participate in WyoFarm Compost’s service. We supply buckets or 32-gallon roller carts, the participant can choose frequency of pick up and how many bins they need. We make a weekly round to pick up compost. There are even incentives if customers purchase food from Haderlie Farms in the form of credit towards compost.

 

JHLT: Anything else you’d like to mention about WyoFarm Composting?

CH: There are just things that make sense. How did we lose composting? Compost is the food that makes stuff grow. Back in the day, they recycled animal manure and food scrap and put it back on the soil because they understood the value. Composting is a no brainer, and we all benefit by participating.