We've Got the Juice - Shifting Waste to Resource in Compost Production

We've Got the Juice -  Shifting Waste to Resource in Compost Production

We Are Soil Farmers
You may know us as stone fruit growers, but as much as we are that, we’d also consider ourselves soil farmers or stewards. With a deep commitment to building and renewing our soil, you will hear us talk a lot about compost and microbes.  Healthy soil is alive and rich in microbial life. You may have heard that just one teaspoon of healthy soil contains billions of living organisms. These organisms perform many vital functions including the breakdown and conversion of organic matter and minerals into nutrients plants need to grow and thrive. 

In order to sustain productive yields and grow nutrient-dense foods, maintaining healthy soil is essential. When nutrients are extracted for crop production and not replenished soil is degraded and plants become more susceptible to pests, diseases, and drought. Yields decline and the crops become less nutritious and delicious. 

Waste Not Want Not 

compost windrows and a hand w compost in it

Our compost windrows

A fundamental aspect of being a regenerative farmer is to shift our understanding of what waste is, and to not, well, waste it. Instead, we recognize “waste” as a resource.  Enter compost - the natural process of recycling organic materials, and our tool to build and replenish our soil’s organic matter. We have a lot of on-farm organic matter to recycle and we prioritize using every bit of it! From tree prunings to decommissioned cardboard, to fruit too damaged to make it to the kitchen, and even down to the fruit juice residue that is a byproduct of our conserve production. 

Liquid Gold - Fruit Juice Residue 

Two essential components of making compost are carbon and nitrogen. Sugar is essentially carbon and as fruit farmers, we have a lot of sugar! During our peak season, we capture and freeze fruit that is too damaged to be eaten out of hand to make our incredibly delicious fruit conserves year-round. When our amazing kitchen crew thaws the frozen fruit, a fair amount of juice is created.  We can’t use all of that juice in our conserve production because the preserves would be too watery. So we strain off that juice and place it into a 275-gallon tank kept outside of the kitchen. When the tank gets full, we take it out to the field and apply it to our piles. The kitchen fills about three or four of these tanks every month! That’s a lot of juice and a lot of what we consider a precious resource to feed the microbes in our compost piles so they can do their work of converting “waste” into a nutrient-rich medium that feeds the soil and in turn our trees. The beauty and elegance of this natural cycle of renewal continues to amaze us. We are humbled in the recognition that we play an important role in facilitating nature’s interconnected and intelligent system of regeneration.  

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