Making World Famous Compost

Another year and another Earth Day celebration! Last year, when our blog was still in its infancy, we gave you 6 tips for going green on Earth Day. This year, I’m leading Stemilt’s celebration of the green holiday (held every April 22) by telling you all about how my father, Kyle Mathison, makes World Famous Compost in order to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills and to feed Stemilt apple, pear, and cherry trees with high-quality ingredients.

In 2005, my father decided to create a compost farm on Stemilt Hill after learning that many wine grape growers would use compost for fertilizer in order to grow grapes with deeper flavors. He felt that apple, pear, and cherry trees could really benefit from being fed with compost created just for their needs. And so, he started collecting all of the green waste from Stemilt’s packing facilities to churn into compost. Rather than being taken to landfills, bins full of leaves, rotten fruit, branches, and recycled lime from refrigeration would now be transported to a compost farm on nearby Stemilt Hill. Other ingredients – such as horse manure, grass clippings, and minerals – were also sourced. Later on, Kyle opened the Stemilt Organic Recycling Center to get the community involved in making World Famous Compost.

The waste, manure, and various minerals (which Kyle selects based on the nutritional needs of the trees he will apply the compost too) are combined into long, neat rows. A giant rototiller, towed by a tractor, mixes the rows daily in order to begin breaking down the waste. Water is sprayed on the piles in order to aerate each row and to help maintain the right temperature, which Kyle finds is between 142-145 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature readings are taken often to maintain that range because if compost gets too warm, it negatively impacts carbon levels. If it gets too cold, it prevents microbes from flourishing.

The watering and rotating process goes on daily for two months. At that point, the strong odor that the pile of waste once had has disappeared and all that remains is a fine-grained, high-quality compost that’s ready to fertilize fruit trees. Kyle applies compost at different times of the year, including the busy summer growing season to feed his trees with nutrients, and the fall, just before trees go dormant for winter.

The goal for every batch of World Famous Compost is to aid in the production of fruit with World Famous flavors. It’s a difference that’s not only benefiting the environment, but one that we hope you notice when you bite into a crisp Stemilt apple, juicy Stemilt pear, or a deliciously sweet Stemilt cherry.

Happy Earth Day from all of us at Stemilt! We’d love to hear about your own composting efforts at home, or any other tips you might have for going green each and every day. Share with us in the comments below!

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