April 30, 2012

Value of Composting and Keeping it Local (customer testimonial)

My parents were avid gardeners in the middle of farm country. I never imagined that childhood years of trotting through garden centers and nurseries would result in such a deep passion for growing things. Living in the Willamette area for over 10 years I maintained a lovely yard complete with a front lawn matching all the neighbors. I weeded, mowed, pruned, aerated, fertilized and made occasional trips with debris to either Dan Davis Recycling or S&H Logging. Both close to home and more cost effective than waiting in line at a scaled station farther away. The choice of which place to go to was a matter of business hours and who was driving the truck to help. 

A serious knee injury three years ago provided time to reflect on a long-imagined yard project. Unable to pull weeds, lift or bend down I could only contemplate the design and the plants I wanted in it. As the weeds constantly mocked my inability to remove them, the premise of my design became clear. I don't want the new landscape to own me.  Essentially I am a lazy gardener. I want to plant something once and have it thrive.  Dragging hoses around before or after work was out. Fighting clay soil with a shovel in July is not fun. 

After removing the entire front lawn I thought the hard part was over. It was just the beginning of an intense but rewarding project. Today it is lush, productive and a joy to keep playing in. The neighbor kids want to see all the monstrous worms when I plant.  

S&H Landscape Supplies was a huge part of my success. With a torn up lawn and the clock ticking on dug up bushes/plants potted in buckets, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting a season for manure and leaves to compost. After the drip irrigation was installed S&H delivered a truck full (7 yds.) of the most gorgeous blended premium soil. The delivery topped off with a carton of farm fresh eggs. The neighbors were blown away by how fast everything grew that summer. 

As a working professional I cannot emphasize the gift it is to have supplies and services close to home with generous business hours. Whether I have hired professionals, worked alone or had volunteer help, the clock is ticking on work days. S&H gives favorable rates to landscapers dumping, is quick to load materials and has nearly all the products I could need in the yard. Bonus on having farm eggs, produce and meat to throw on the grill.  The value of your business to the community in keeping it local is underrated.

Having grown up in America’s Dairlyland and living next to a dairy farm, the only hazard we ever experienced was a loose cow tearing up mom’s flowers. I am happy about being able to buy composted manure in bulk and avoiding bagged versions from big box stores miles away. It’s also easier than convincing a friend to loan a truck to pick up manure.
Thank you all for providing such an overlooked but vital community service to anyone that has a yard, a few potted plants or a desire for local eggs and meat. A local and sustainable business in the true sense.

- Kim B.  (West Linn, Oregon)

April 06, 2012

FAQs on our proposed new composting facility

Q:  Why is S&H proposing to do composting and mining on their Stafford Road site?
A:  S&H takes in yard debris, grinds it, and sends it to Clackamas Compost Products (CCP) for composting, located in the Clackamas Industrial Area off Hwy 212/224. S&H is a co-owner of CCP, which rents land from the County and is on a month-to-month lease. The County plans to sell this land to a business that creates more jobs than the current use provides. CCP will be forced to close down or relocate.

Q:  What is the status of the land use permit?
A:  A conditional use permit was approved by the County Hearing Officer February 7, 2012. Four residents in the Borland/Strafford area have appealed this decision to the State Land Use Board of Appeals.

Q:  What materials will the compost facility compost?
A:  S&H will be allowed to compost "Green Feedstocks" as defined by Chapter 834 of the County Zoning and Development Ordinance. This includes yard debris, non-treated wood waste, vegetative food waste, produce waste, vegetative restaurant waste, vegetative food processor by-products, crop waste and livestock manure.  The County does not allow composting of food waste (post-consumer, containing meat scraps or other animal products) similar to that collected by the City of Portland and composted in North Plains.

Q:  Does S&H plan to put garbage into the soil mining pit?
A:  The small soil mining operation will create a pit that is as much as 35’ deep, and will be reclaimed by filling with “engineered fill”, which is soil that can be compacted sufficiently to support buildings. S&H plans to prepare the site for eventual commercial/residential redevelopment. No garbage will be used to refill the mining pit.

Q:  Will the compost/mining activities produce dust?
A:  Dust will be kept below allowable thresholds, and will not create a health hazard. Compost is wet by nature, and does not produce dust. Mined soil may be dry in the summer, and will be misted during loading to keep the dust to a minimum. Gravel roads on site will be watered when needed to control dust.

Q:  Will the composting produce odors?
A:  Composting has the potential to create odors, which can be avoided if best management practices are employed. S&H has designed the composting to prevent the generation of odors. There will be no periodic turning of the compost piles, which often releases odors. Instead, undisturbed piles will receive pumped air to keep them aerated, thereby preventing the creation of unwanted anaerobic odors. The piles will be covered with finished compost to absorb any escaping odors. This is a tried and tested method that is used in urban locations across the country.

Q:  Will the facility produce noise?
A:  Noise from the composting and mining activities will be kept below DEQ thresholds that are determined by existing ambient noise levels. These thresholds are designed to prevent noise from being a nuisance to the closest neighbors.

Q: What other permits are needed?
A:  If the County’s Conditional Use Permit approval is upheld by the Land Use Board of Appeals, then S&H will apply for a DEQ Compost Facility Permit, a grading permit, a DOGAMI (mining) permit, and a Metro license for the composting.