Compost business starts every other week in Durango – The Durango Herald

Additional subscription option reduces the cost and frequency of food waste collection

Chris Trullaz, operations manager at Table to Farm Compost, turns a compost pile at the facility northeast of Durango on June 29, 2023. The composting company announced Tuesday that it is now offering services every other week for current and future subscribers who want to compost but do not have sufficient materials to justify paying monthly for the weekly compost collection services. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Table to Farm Compost, the composting company that partners with the city of Durango, has added compost collections to its services every other week. It used to only offer weekly collections.

The additional subscription option was added to give customers more pricing flexibility and to account for residents who simply don’t generate enough food scraps to guarantee weekly service, Monique DiGiorgio, co-owner and managing member of Table to Farm, said Thursday.

Table to Farm charges $28 per month for weekly service. The new every-other-week service costs $18 per month.

“You asked and we listened,” she said in a press release.

She said The Durango Herald In a market survey conducted by Table to Farm last year, many customers and potential customers requested a weekly service.

The study offered subscribers three full months of free composting service in exchange for completing two surveys, one at the start of the free trial and one at the end. The surveys sought to gauge why residents were interested in composting and why they kept or gave up their subscriptions after the free service expired.

“Cost is always a factor in a high-cost-of-living place like the city,” she said. “A lot of people asked for the costs to be reduced somewhat.”

The market study was a boon to the compost industry, increasing its subscribers by about 200 people, she said.

“The research just taught people the habit and behavior of composting,” she said. “Once you start, it’s very difficult to throw your food waste in the trash.”

Since announcing the cheaper and less frequent subscription option earlier this week, Table to Farm has already acquired 20 to 30 new customers, she says.

Table to Farm Compost has significantly ramped up operations this year, composting 2,000 to 3,000 cubic yards of processed food waste in multiple 60-yard windrows. (Courtesy of Table for Agricultural Compost)

DiGiorgio said the new automated collection routing software called StopSuite is partly due to its expanded subscription options. The system serves two purposes: it sends automated reminders to customers about when compost collection is scheduled for them, and it automatically creates collection routes that Table to Farm drivers can follow to collect compost as efficiently as possible.

“That would have been a huge puzzle for us to figure out,” she said of the every-other-week route planning.

The software also features an online portal where customers can view their environmental impact through composting, the release said.

“We hope this investment in our business model will bring us one step closer to citywide composting,” said Taylor Hanson, co-owner and managing member.

Durango has approximately 5,600 households within the city limits, and approximately 800 households currently subscribe to Table to Farm’s composting service.

DiGiorgio, like Hanson, said the goal is to get every household composting and then expand into La Plata County.

In 2021, Table to Farm entered into a five-year partnership with the city of Durango to promote composting and educate people about its benefits. The partnership was created with the lofty goal of achieving community-wide composting by 2025 or 2026.

Table to Farm is one of only 16 facilities of its kind in the state. It is a 4½-acre site on County Road 236 east of Durango and has room to process up to 18,000 cubic yards of compost at any one time.

Table To Farm purchased a shiny new windrower this year, purchased with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fertilizer Production Expansion Grant. The composting company has a public-private partnership with the City of Durango to offer composting services to interested residents, with the goal of engaging residents in recycling organic food waste. (Courtesy of Table for Agricultural Compost)

The amount of compost it processes has increased significantly from a few hundred cubic meters of piles in 2017, the Table to Farm’s first full year of operation, to between 2,000 and 3,000 cubic meters of processed material spread across numerous 60-metre long compost piles . swaths today.

“That’s thanks to a lot of customer food scraps (and donations) from Ska Brewing beer mesh,” she said.

The environmentally conscious entrepreneurs said they now have enough material processing to sell compost to farmers, the Colorado Department of Transportation for highway projects and local businesses such as Durango Nursery, Botanical Concepts and Bayfield Gardens.

Compost can also be bagged and sold to individual customers and gardeners, DiGiorgio says.

She said Table to Farm has also received financial support from several federal sources. For example, it was one of eight companies in the United States to receive the first round of the Biden-Harris administration’s Fertilizer Production Expansion Program.

The program financially supports “the production of fertilizer that is independent, made-in-America, innovative, sustainable and farmer-focused,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She said the Biden-Harris administration supports circular economies and is implementing a national strategy to reduce food loss and waste by increasing organics recycling, which can contribute to solutions to climate change.

Table to Farm Compost formed a public-private partnership with the City of Durango in 2021 to promote composting with the goal of citywide composting by 2025 or 2026. (Courtesy of Table to Farm Compost)

“Table to Farm is a circular company that brings in food waste from the province, makes compost and distributes it to farmers and nurseries within a 50-mile radius,” she said.

She said the composting company also recycles raw materials and creates jobs in La Plata County. State organizations such as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Department of Agriculture, the State Forest Service, the Office of Economic Development & International Trade and the USDA have all supported composting efforts.

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