Veteran Compost is about two things:
1. Employing veterans and their family members
2. Turning food scraps into high-quality organic compost
Our goal is to fuel our growth with people and material that others pass over.
Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. That means that a combat vet has a harder time getting a job than the average person.
Two thirds of the material that gets thrown away in the United States every year is compostable.
So, there's plenty of people and material to fuel our growth.
Our Main Farm
We have a 30-acre farm we lease in Aberdeen, MD. We're right on the edge of suburban sprawl, but still work the land and compost.
The farmhouse dates to the 1860s and is surrounded by an assortment of outbuildings we have repurposed for our operation. The Barn is home to our soil and fertilizer mixing operations. The Hoop House is where we do our worm composting and retail sales. The Garage is where we do the repairs and fabrications that keep us running.
The fields around the buildings are home to our aerated compost piles. Nothing beats the sight of the steam rising off the piles at dawn. It's a beautiful thing.
Our Products and Services
We work hard everyday to make the best compost products and provide excellent collection services . We want to set the standard for high quality compost and customer service. No one composts harder than we do!
We are proud to be composting in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia and look forward to growing our business, hiring more veterans, and saving the planet.
The Science Behind the Scenes
Our staff soil scientist performs regular quality control testing on our compost piles. We monitor the pile temperatures, pH, and electrical conductivity (a proxy for nutrient availability) in house, and we send our samples out to a commercial lab several times a year to get a full nutrient analysis. We also test our composts and soils for heavy metals, so you can be sure that your garden is not only successful, but also safe for the whole family to enjoy.
We’ve been working hard to improve our existing compost-based mixes and create new ones. Our Topsoil and Super Soil were introduced in 2020, and we released an Organic Seed Starter and Crab Compost in Spring 2021 that are both compliant with National Organic Program Standards.
Our all-natural compost is made from food scraps and wood chips, so it is free of pesticides and other contaminants. Since our food scraps come from many different residences and business types, compostable bags and eatery inevitably end up in the mix. These bioplastics break down very well in our system, but they are technically not allowed as a compost feedstock under the organic standards, so certified organic farmers cannot use our regular all-natural compost. We believe that our composting processes and products are otherwise very much in line with the principles of the organic movement.
We have started a designated organic pile which only contains pre-consumer food waste, coffee grounds, crab waste, and mulch fines so certified organic farmers can enjoy our compost. We use this in our Organic Seed Starter and Crab Compost.
2020 Super Soil Tomato Growth Trial
We conducted an experiment the 2020 growing season to see how our new Super Soil recipe compares with our Square Foot Garden Mix, and to see how both stack up against FoxFarm’s Ocean Forest potting soil. Ocean Forest is often ranked as a top performing container growing mix on farm and garden websites.
For each of the three soils, we filled four seven-gallon containers, arranged them in a randomized block design, and transplanted Red Deuce F1 tomatoes into them for a total of 12 plants. We made visual growth observations until the first fruits started setting, and at week 5, we started taking data on the number of fruits on each plant. The graph below shows that our Super Soil and Ocean Forest were a close tie during week 5, but our Super Soil consistently outperformed its competitor in weeks 6 and 7. Tomatoes growing in our Square Foot Garden Mix only produced two fewer fruits on average than Ocean Forest by the 7th week, which is good to keep in mind when you consider the fact that our Square Foot Garden mix is about half the price. We stopped collecting data after week 7 because deer found their way into our fence and did serious damage to most of our trial plants.
We designed our Super Soil to have a target pH of 6.5 with an optimized balance of nutrients. We tested the pH and EC (short for electrical conductivity- a proxy for available nutrients) of each material before planting. We found that Ocean Forest’s pH was in a good range, but the EC was higher than optimal. As expected, this resulted in darker green foliage and bushier growth on the tomatoes grown in the Ocean Forest mix, but those plants produced fewer fruits than the tomatoes grown in our Super Soil.
Another important finding was that the tomatoes growing in Ocean Forest were always the first to start wilting on a hot day, so they required more water than plants grown in our Square Foot Garden Mix or Super Soil. This is likely due to the high compost content and the inclusion of vermiculite in both our Super Soil and Square Foot Garden mix. Vermiculite is a more expensive alternative to perlite (used in Fox Farm’s potting mixes), but it outperforms perlite in terms of moisture retention, so we find it to be a good investment. The coconut coir in our Super Soil further increases the water holding capacity of the mix while maintaining good aeration and drainage. Biochar and mycorrhizal fungi are also known to ameliorate the effects of drought stress on plants and improve the availability of nutrients.
The ingredients of each product tested are listed below for reference:
Veteran Compost Super Soil: Compost, coconut coir, peat moss, vermiculite, Bio-Charge (biochar, worm castings, liquid fish fertilizer, endo and ecto-mycorrhizal fungi), and organic fertilizer (bone meal, blood meal, aragonite, azomite, kelp meal, sulfate of potash)
Veteran Compost Square Foot Garden Mix: Compost, peat moss, and vermiculite.
FoxFarm Ocean Forest: Aged forest products, peat moss, perlite, sandy loam, and fertilizer (fish emulsion, crab meal, shrimp meal, earthworm castings, bat guano, kelp meal, and oyster shells).
Find out the latest news at Veteran Compost.
328 Bush Chapel Rd
Aberdeen, MD 21001
Open Weekdays 9-4
Severna Park, MD