Common Good Compost allows options for Greeley, Weld residents | TheFencePost.com

Common Good Compost allows options for Greeley, Weld residents

Bridgett Weaver | Reporter

The compost is so good you can sniff it. Or at least, that's what Geoff Schmidt does. Schmidt, owner of Common Good Compost, isn't off. Schmidt's homemade fertilizer has a unique, agreeable scent to it because of the natural, six-week processing it undergoes.

"It smells so good and earthy," he said after taking a big whiff of the finished fertilizer product. "It smells like summer."

Schmidt started Common Good Compost in Greeley, Colo., in February, and the company is in the first phase of a three-phase plan. Schmidt, as a senior in the University of Northern Colorado's environmental sustainability program, got the idea for composting from a class last semester.

They had to build a permaculture garden, with the goal of maintaining as natural of a system as possible, behind Ross Hall on the UNC campus, and he knew they'd need compost. Schmidt said he asked the local Starbucks for their coffee grounds for composting. He expected just a little pack of coffee grounds, but he was sent away with a five-gallon bucket full of grounds and a promise for more the next day.

"That was kind of the 'aha' moment of 'there's waste being generated, and it's just going to the trash,'" he said.

Next, Schmidt ventured into making compost from his own household waste. He did this on the patio of the Greeley apartment where he and his wife Brittany live, but he quickly learned this wasn't an apartment-patio project.

Recommended Stories For You

"We realized we can't be the only ones who live in an apartment but want to do something with our organic waste," he said. "We said, 'let's offer that to other people in Greeley.'"

And Common Good Compost was born.

Schmidt, 30, works with his brothers, Justin and Jarrod, who help with the physical and business aspects of Common Good; his wife, who helps with social media, weekly pickups and more; and his mother, who provides the land so far.

Schmidt and Jarrod just finished building the first greenhouse in their mom's 8th Street backyard.

Right now they serve 14 Greeley families. With the greenhouse, they can legally maintain their "backyard compost" status and serve 150 customers.

Once they hit that mark, Schmidt already has plans for phase two, which will include composting in a turkey barn in Kersey. That site will service 750 additional customers. After they hit 900 customers, they plan to move to phase three. For this, Schmidt plans to buy a plot of land to build an industrial composting facility. It may seem like a lofty goal, but Schmidt hopes to accomplish it within five years.

Once they move into the second phase, Schmidt said he hopes to bring on some small companies.

He said he already approached Cheba Hut in Greeley, who said they're "too hippie to not be composting."

He also chatted with Schofield Fruit Stand of Loveland, which offered a small dumpster-worth of food stock per week.

"Right now they're paying $75 a month to send their perfectly compostable scraps to the dump," Schmidt said.

Although he too has to charge for the composting services, he said he tries to keep it affordable, and if nothing else, it's good for the environment. Prices range form $10 per month for students to $30 per month for Weld residents who live outside of town limits.

Each customer gets his or her compost back as a fertilizer as a complimentary service delivered each April. The amount the customer gets back depends on the amount contributed throughout the year.

While many understand what composting is, a lot of people don't have it down pat, which Brittany Schmidt said is completely normal.

She said there's a learning curve, and they are willing to help anyone by answering questions. But they try to make it easy by attaching picture graphs and sending out limericks in their monthly newsletter to remind customers what can be composted.

Schmidt explained that, despite common beliefs, compostable products won't just decompose naturally at a dump.

"It's a real misconception of a lot of people that when you send organic waste to the dump, it just decomposes," he said. "That's not true."

The microbes working to turn the compost into fertilizer need water and oxygen, he said.

"Our employees are billions of little bacteria and bugs and fungus and they don't ask for anything in return," Schmidt said.

"Except for more compost," Brittany added.

He said at a dump, compostable material just goes to waste because it "doesn't build into the ground and it doesn't feed any plant life. And it stinks really bad."

So they try to make it as easy as possible for people to compost by providing composting kits, part of which can be left on a kitchen counter. The inside bin has an aerator on top so it won't stink.

Schmidt said his 2-year-old son already gets the concept of composting, so anyone can do it.

"He is the reason I care so much about our environment," he said.

Schmidt said he's most likely among the majority of parents when he thinks, "somebody's got to look out for his future."

Everything comes down to one fact, he said.

"We all have what we call waste, but it's only waste until you know what to do with it," Schmidt said. "So now we know what to so with it, and we want to teach other people what to do with it. Not only that, but make it really, really easy." ❖

Here are a few of the Common Good Compost limericks to help remember what is compostable:

» Clean a spill? The bin will fill!

» Cup of tea? Give the bag to me!

» Scraping a plate? Extend its fate!

» Blow your nose? We’ll take those!

» Lasagna gone bad? Makes us glad!

» Burned the toast? Into the compost!

» Junk mail shrugs? Feed it to the bugs!

» Tossing out a funky dish? Grant a worm a birthday wish!

Pricing and information about Common Good Compost

A start-up kit comes free with the first month’s payment.

Pricing:

» Greeley and Evans residences — $20/month

» Surrounding areas (call for details) — $30/month

» Students and Active Military — $10/month

» Police, EMTs and Firefighters — $15/month

Free finished compost for customers (delivered in spring or summer):

» Month-to-month customers — 5 gallons

» Six-month agreement — 10 gallons

» One-year agreement — 10 gallons and a Common Good Compost T-shirt

» Finished product can also be purchased at local nurseries (which have not yet been determined) and the downtown Greeley Farmers Market.

To stay updated on where to purchase Common Good Compost fertilizer, and for other company updates, go to http://www.commongoodcompost.org, or search on Facebook for Common Good Compost, LLC. Schmidt also can be reached by phone at (970) 308-7508.