Veteran Compost Grows the Full Circle

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 Be Inspired Seasonally with Rita Calvert

What do I mean by the above title? Using redworms and microorganisms to convert organic waste into nutrient-rich humus is known as vermicomposting and the benefits of using high-quality vermicompost and compost tea in soil fertility are numerous. Veteran Compost uses vermiculture to compost food waste which goes back to the earth to amend growing edibles and ornamentals to continue the cycle. 

Guest Blog by Tara Boyle-Annapolis FreshFarm Market manager

Justen Garrity was inspired by the fact that two thirds of all food waste is compostable. Empowered by simple logic, (where one sees a need fill it) and a degree of naivete that allowed him to move forward where another might have hesitated, Justen launched Veteran Compost with only a pitchfork and the cash in his pocket.

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Founded in 2010, the mission of Veteran Compost is in the name. Justen strives to give veterans and their family members employment opportunity through running the green business of composting food scraps. Veteran Compost is one of the only private composters of this kind in the Mid-Atlantic and it is the only commercial worm composting operation in Maryland.  More than a million worms are working around the clock to create great compost.

The company’s website describes it best: “Our goal is to fuel our growth with people and material that others pass over…These are young men and women who can operate under stress, take initiative, and are natural leaders.  Yet, they are ignored in our economy.  We’re building our company around these people as others turn them away.”

Garrity graduated in 2004 from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a BS in Management Information Systems.  He spent five years on active duty in the US Army, earning numerous awards and badges.  Upon returning home from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, he created Veteran Compost in 2010.  He was recently recognized in among the MD Daily Record’s “Top 20 in their 20s”.

 

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Despite having no background in agriculture and no investors, by opening day Veteran Compost was number three in the region. The first two years was a one man show,  just a man, a truck and (you guessed it) a pitchfork! Since then he has been able to up his operation with equipment and personnel. 

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Justen’s partners are impressive. As a first this year he composted all of the food waste, crab mallets and compostable paper trays from the Rotary Crab Fest-the largest endeavor of this kind in the world! Other partners include Maryland Seafood Festival, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Wegman’s, Aramark, Mom’s Organic Market, Harford County (MD) Public Schools and locally, Boatyard Bar and Grill, Galway Bay and Harry Brownes, all popular Annapolis restaurants.

As a Captain in the U.S. Army he was a Combat Engineer Officer trained in explosives Justen is now “blowing up” the green business world with his ever-expanding list of partners and range of products & services. Services include food waste collection, organic waste drop off, manure hauling and waste auditing. Products include, Compost (bulk/bagged), Worm Castings aka worm poop (bagged), Square Foot Gardening Mix (bulk/bagged), Compost Tea, Compost Worms, Rain Barrels and complete vermiculture “kits” with red wiggler worms.

Update Note from Rita: I was communicating with Justen to get an update. Here is his great news, “We have tripled our commercial food scrap collection business this year, and our residential program has several hundred member in just it’s first year. So, we are excited to see this growth continue.  Who knew the compost world was so fast paced?

We’re starting a professionally filmed “Compost Mailbag” series for YouTube which should be out shortly.”

For more information on Veteran Compost, visit www.veterancompost.com.

Photo Credits: Veteran Compost website

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