Thursday, September 20, 2012

Todays harvest

 This is one of the things I produce on my farm.  It's a pile of compost; roughly 1/3rd manure and 2/3rds tree chips, carefully aged and turned, and now it's ready to go.  This is pretty great stuff for growing things; it forms the base of our greenhouse soil, and we use it as an amendment in the pastures for low-fertility areas. 
 In this operation we're moving about 300 cubic yards of compost, 5-6 yards at a time.  We'll usually apply it at 4-6" deep whereever more fertility is needed.  The underlying soil type on my farm is clay, and we've got patches of blue clay that surface here and there.  A little plowing, some compost, and then smoothing down means that we get good growth instead of a bare spot of clay in the pastures. 
It's funny, but this stuff is heavily, and I mean heavily, regulated in Snohomish county.  I looked into the possibility of bagging and selling it, or selling it in bulk, and found that the permit costs alone for retail compost sales were in excess of $10k a year.  That's just the permit fee for one set of permits -- you may be required to get several permits or licenses.   

Now mind you this is for an activity that the county wants us to do -- here's a quote from the article:   

"Bailand Farms president Don Bailey said one of the factors holding his company back is the high permitting cost. Every year, he pays about $10,000 for two permits, one for handling solid waste and another for air-quality "

So we skip the fees and regulations and just use our lovely compost on our pastures and gardens directly.  

I sure would hate to see what would happen if the county wasn't encouraging composting.  Maybe they'd just take us farmers out and shoot us. 


becky3086 said...

Yeah, seems like they aren't as interested in you all being "green" as it seems. What a ridiculous price for a couple of permits! I am glad you make and use your compost though. It looks like very nice stuff. I am a very poor compost maker. I tend not to turn the stuff but it still makes compost.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

That is a beautiful mound of brown! Good job on producing such good stuff for the ground.

Jeff said...

This sounds like a classic example of one sized fits all regulations. It's probably a good thing that large scale composters need to be accountable for air quality, so the permitting cost makes some sense. The problem comes in applying that huge permit cost to us small scale composters. I'm not in favor of doing away with all regulations, so I'd like to see more regulation that either exempts small farmers or significantly reduces the cost of permitting and compliance.