Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Organic Gardening Magazine's Seal of Approval!

My first blog post of the year mentioned the award we received from Organic Gardening magazine, their newly created Seal of Approval! We are so honored to be the first company to receive this award. Why did OG give it to us? They were impressed by our commitment to organics, the environmentally sound composition of each blend, and the sustainable production practices we employ to get the job done each day.
What’s in Organic Mechanics Potting Soils and Soil Amendments?
If you have not yet tried a bag of Organic Mechanics, you might not know our products contain compost, aged pine bark, coconut husk fiber, worm castings, and finally, rice hulls or perlite.The compost is locally produced in Chester County, PA. The aged pine bark comes from Delaware (it says forest products on the label, just in case another type of bark gets harvested…birds will drop seeds in the midst of a pine field), and the coconut husk fiber comes from India. India you say? Seems like quite the distance…but when you dig deeper, one realizes this coconut husk fiber is compressed 5:1 before shipment and it is shipped by boat. Shipping by boat is very fuel-efficient, as compared to shipping by tractor-trailer. Also, the fiber dust we receive is the final by-product of coconut harvesting. You get coconut meat, oil, water, shell, fiber, and finally, the dust that gets dried and compressed before shipment to our production site.
Other ingredients include worm castings, rice hulls, and perlite. Worm castings are a nice way of saying worm poop…natures perfect soil amendment. They are chock full of beneficial biology to populate the root zone, breaking down organic matter and helping plants stay healthy. Rice hulls are the shell surrounding each delicious rice grain. The rice is grown in Arkansas and Louisiana, and the hulls are parboiled before packaging to remove any weed seeds or potential pathogens. Rice hulls replace perlite in most of our blends. Perlite is added to increase drainage in potting soils, but rice hulls also provide good drainage and make the mix nice and fluffy for plant roots. Perlite is very energy intensive to make, and since the rice hulls were available, we chose to use them in most of our blends to reduce our manufacturing carbon footprint.
Production Practices
When I started Organic Mechanics, I knew environmental sustainability had to be a core value of the company. For this reason we use recycled products whenever possible. Most of our ingredients are by-products of agriculture that we “upcycle” into our products. We use recycled pallets for shipping, 100% post-consumer recycled paper for all printing needs, and we purchase wind power for our electricity.
I also wanted us to use the most energy efficient methods of production. For this reason we chose an electric forklift (which is also better for employee health), and chose used diesel equipment when deciding on machines – so we could run them all on bio-diesel. All our diesel machines also have “scrubbers” on them, to clean the air emitted from the engines. We also have a waste-oil heater for our shop. Collected vegetable oil is filtered and burned in a very efficient heater that has kept the guys warm even during the depths of winter’s chill.
Speaking of the guys, I’ll have to dedicate an entire post to them later this summer. We could not do so much without “the dream team” in the shop. We have five full-time staff in the shop each day during the busy season. The guys make potting soil, keep everything stocked, load trucks, unload trucks, process orders, flip compost piles, bag up worm castings, and all the while make each other laugh and listen to great music. It’s a dirty job, but they do it with a smile. I did it for the first three years…and now I spend all my time behind a computer, on the road visiting garden centers, or at conferences and workshops educating people on the joys of organic gardening.
We hope you’ll join us on this sustainable gardening journey. If you don’t currently have a subscription to Organic Gardening magazine, pick up the current June/July issue at your favorite bookstore or retailer…you can read more about Organic Mechanics in the Profiles Department, and great topics like Container Gardening, Chanticleer (one of the most stunning public gardens around), delicious recipes, OG’s Farm-to-Fork tour of Italy, The Rodale Institute’s 30th anniversary of its Farming Systems Trial, and much, much more. Pick up a copy or get yourself a subscription! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. The range of potting soils you have produced is very encouraging. I particularly like the worm castings incorporated. Also the attention to use of recycled products as far as possible. I'm very impressed.