Composted Soil

Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto/Farm Flavor Media

Tom Price has given a whole new meaning to the phrase one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The owner of Price Farms Organics in Delaware County, Price raises cattle and hogs, and, about 20 years ago, decided to start a compost operation, not only to make his own land more fertile, but also to help Ohio businesses and operations achieve zero waste. Since then, his farm has transitioned into an Ohio EPA Class II compost facility, meaning that he is able to accept almost anything for composting.

“We got into recycling a long time ago. We bed our livestock with paper from the surrounding community, which lends itself to composting. When we fertilize our pastures with compost, we can continue to do intensive rotational grazing with our cattle while spreading the compost,” Price says. “Transitioning into a Class II facility allows us to take scraps from neighboring food places and more.”

One of those places is the Columbus Zoo, which delivers manure and bedding to be recycled, sometimes as often as twice a day. Price says the compost made from the materials, aptly called Zoo Brew, is one of their most popular.

Another interesting partnership at Price Farms is the one they have with The Ohio State University. Price receives all of the preconsumer organics, along with organic materials from the suites after each of the university’s football games, says Tony Gillund, manager for Facilities Operations and Development at The Ohio State University.

“These items are collected by Athletics and Levy (our food concessionaire and partner on this zero-waste initiative) in toters, which are loaded onto a box truck and sent to Price Farms,” he adds.

The resulting compost is called Stadium Scarlet.

“This is one way that Ohio State can set a national (and international) precedent on waste diversion,” Gillund says. “By diverting the organics away from the landfill and working with Price Farms, we’re taking a waste and turning it into a resource.”

Price says they offer tours at the farm, welcoming everyone from preschool children to master gardeners, teaching them about the importance of the environment and soil health. He also continues to work with local businesses and companies, taking many organic byproducts they offer, while growing Ohio agriculture in the process.

“We’ll get calls at least once a month from a company that asks, ‘Can you recycle this?’ If we can make a safe and wholesome product, we’ll start taking it,” Price says. “Some items may be difficult to recycle but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The difficult we do immediately; the impossible just takes a little longer.”