Rhode Island may not be one of the largest states in the country, but its geographic location makes it one of the most nutrient rich. In fact, it’s an ideal place for the production of compost.
Michael Merner, Founder of Earth Care Farm, quickly and happily discovered this when he began his compost business in 1979. He has since made a living by utilizing the natural byproducts of the state to manufacture compost for sale to local farms, businesses and homeowners.
When you think of composting, you may think of large production facilities with enormous screeners and a distinct odor. Very few people think of a small, family owned and operated farm producing a finished product that smells like sweet earth.
Earth Care Farms is just that, a small, specialty farm that produces 3,000 cubic yards of chemical free compost each year. To yield that amount of compost, the farm must accept and move up to 9,000 cubic yards of material. With such a high volume of materials to be moved on their small, 30-acre farm, 3 acres of which serve as their compost footprint, the staff relies heavily on their equipment fleet which includes 3 wheel loaders, a rented screener, a backhoe and several compact tractors, the workhorse and muscle of the daily operation is their Hyundai HL760 wheel loader.
“Our equipment is indispensible. Without the Hyundai loader, we’d need 1,000 people with pitchforks to manually do the work of this one machine.”
According to John Barth, General Farm Manager, “ We owned other brand loaders at the time, but following some research, the Hyundai HL760 made the most sense for our application. Once delivered, it quickly became my machine of choice.
“The hydraulic response on the HL760 is phenomenal and its econo-mode allows us to save money on fuel without sacrificing performance, while remaining environmentally conscious through lower emissions.”
“Every day we get a variety of materials delivered to the farm, from leaves and woodchips, to vegetable clippings, to local fish byproduct and seaweed, to zoo manure, to restaurant and food scraps. The diversity of the materials that go into our compost is what makes it so nutrient rich and sought after,” says Merner.
“The fish byproduct adds a level of fertility to the compost incomparable to any I’ve seen during my 33 years in the business. The soil web and nutrient analysis testing we do support this.”
When asked why their business continues to grow, Barth said, “Most of our new business comes from word of mouth. “When someone’s neighbor sees a garden with plants that are thriving, full of tomatoes or rhubarb that are twice the size as theirs early in the season, they ask questions. The answers to those questions typically result in new customers for our farm. Word of mouth is our only form of marketing.”
To learn more about Earth Care Farm, click here.
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