The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Source for organic compost/loam?

Source for organic compost/loam?

Lori P.
LoriPower
Portland, ME
Post #: 1
Hi All--

I am one of those people who lives in the toxic soil zone of Portland. Here's how I deal with it: I ignore all of the great Permaculture ideals of sheet mulching, and instead remove sod and soil down a foot or so, build a bed, and import loam and compost.

I am looking for a good source of soil for this year for new beds--I need about 6 yards. Does anyone have a good source? Last year I used "supersoil"--I think it was from Bensons, but I was very disappointed with the results.

I just sent off new soil samples. (By the way, if you send in your soil before March 15, it costs $8 per sample instead of $12!)

I went to the cooperative extension yesterday and asked about sources of organic compost, and they gave me the name of New England Organics, which is a waste treatment/biosolids company (On Presumpscot St.)! I called and they insisted that their compost is "organic" but I think they just mean there is organic material in it (human waste!) They are NOT certified by MOFGA. And by the way, Allen Sterling Lothrop and other local companies sell this stuff.

Does anyone know of a good source of organic soil?

Lori
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 268
Hmmm...that's an interesting point. MOFGA certifies farms and farm products but I can't recall seeing them certify soil and compost as organic. I imagine it's happening somewhere. I would contact MOFGA on that question. I googled on "organic soil" and came up with a couple of retail brands of small bag "certified organic" soil, but in trying to find out more about any one of them, could really figure out where the certification was coming from.

There's Coast of Maine, but that's a retail bag rather than bulk delivery.
David H.
PostCarbonDesign
Oxford, ME
Post #: 276
Coast of Maine (made in Canada) is certified for organic growers. Closer to home, Winterwood Farm's Premium Shellfish Compost is certified for organic growers and available for bulk delivery in Cumberland County from a variety of retailers. They also have an Eco-Blend that is cheaper, and involves composted materials from local businesses.

http://www.winterwood...­
David H.
PostCarbonDesign
Oxford, ME
Post #: 277
Also read this...
BIO-SOLIDS
Citys and towns across the country operate sewer plants and solid waste facilities. The by product of these facilities is municipal waste. Plants that generate this municipal waste will often have or work with compost facilities that blend the sludge from the sewage plants with compost. Some municipalities will collect and compost leaf and yard waste to blend together with the sludge and make it available to residents for free or at a very low cost.

Commercial composters that use municipal waste (called Bio-Solids) do not always openly market this fact on the packaging or in the list of ingredients. It is common practice to make up more Earth friendly names for these ingredients like "agi-fiber, super humus, and bio-stimulants."

MUNICIPAL WASTE OR COMPOST BLENDED WITH

BIO-SOLIDS

IS NOT APPROVED FOR ORGANIC GROWING
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 269
dave - very important point. i used to work in municpal waste management ..... heavy metals (and i guess now pharmaceuticals!!!) can be a big problem with sludge. the content of these "soil" products should be transparent to the consumer and, theoretically, you could follow the paper trail back to see how the sludge tested. the biggest customers for sludge at that time were the turf farmers. (farming lawns? huh?)
Lori P.
LoriPower
Portland, ME
Post #: 4
Thanks for the resources and info, Dave and Lisa.

It's funny that the bio-solids woman absolutely INSISTED that their soil was organic, and when I asked her about heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, she announced that the processing just gets rid of all that stuff. That does not pass the straight face test, as far as I'm concerned. She supposedly sent me a flyer comparing their soil to others. I'm sure it's chock-full of bullshit. Human shit? smile

But here's another paranoid thought of mine: what about seafood? I am nervous about fish products and even seaweed in my soil b/c of the heavy metals and mercury. I have heard that seaweed doesn't uptake the metals--is that true? But what about shellfish?

oy
David H.
PostCarbonDesign
Oxford, ME
Post #: 280
...good question, maybe a soil test of soil amend with shellfish compost could yield some answers.
A former member
Post #: 63
re: pharmaceuticals. There was a short piece on MPBN Monday night ( and the conclusion got cut off accidently due to technical difficulties) that said that the thing that is different about pharmaceuticals versus toxic chemicals in our water supply is that the former are DESIGNED to be taken up by the human body whereas toxics are not. We are just beginning to discover the long-term effects of toxic chemicals on the human body but we already know by their nature that pharmaceuticals have an affect. The fact that trace amounts of a whole array of pharmaceuticals, from antidepressants to antibiotics etc. were found to be present in 17 city's drinking water is alarming. The report said that municipal water treatment facilities ARE NOT equipped to remove many of them so the bio-solids woman's information isn't current because the gist of the MPBN report was that even trace amounts are worrisome. And that's where the report got cut off so I don't know further specifics except to be very worried about not just trace amounts of antidepressants that I don't need BUT A CHEMICAL SOUP OF UNKNOWN PHARMACEUTICALS THAT HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO REACT WITH EACH OTHER. Does anyone have any more information? I called MPBN and asked them to rebroadcast that clip but went to the Meetup last night so may have missed it if they did.

Winnie
Cassie
user 5714932
Falmouth, ME
Post #: 2
ever considered worm composting for your organic compost resource? it's ideal for city circumstances.
Lori P.
LoriPower
Portland, ME
Post #: 6
Yes, I do worm composting--I love my worms! But I need a LOT of soil for new beds. I did check out Dave's suggestion of Winterwood Farm's organic compost, and I'm excited to see that Allen Sterling and Lothrop will be selling it this summer! (The same place that sells the disguised Bio-waste. Interesting.) Even better news: it has been certified by MOFGA. So that's my solution for now. I have decided that I may not have a better option. I did just send in soil tests from the stuff that I got last year from Benson's. I'll let you know the results when I get them.
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