Failure Part IX: Growing Pains

We always try to be transparent about what’s going on out here, if it’s good or bad. Lately, we’ve experienced some growing pains and unfortunately it has impacted our community. Our composting aromas have been stronger lately, and we apologize for the disturbance it may have caused. Odor is our number one concern at Dirt Hugger and we are constantly thinking about it.  We are taking action now to correct the issue and have now learned that even minor tweaks in the compost recipe are unacceptable. We want everyone to enjoy clean air outside their window and enjoyable walks on the river path -we enjoy using it as well.

There have been two main reason for increased aroma at our site: the pond, and our compost recipe. The pond builds up organic matter in the bottom, which creates odor as the weather gets warmer. This year, in addition to getting in the bottom ourselves, we hired a water consultant to help drain and deal with the pond odor. We drained the pond on April 30th which we feel did a lot to mitigate its odors. The issue has been that we originally designed the pond as a storm water catchment pond, which we thought it was. We now realize the pond needs to be more of an active water treatment pond. When the weather dries out this summer we will redesign and reconfigure the pond to create a more long-term solution in order to avoid odors, especially in the spring.

The second main odor generator, and what we think is generating aroma, comes from our compost recipe. Since opening about a year and a half ago we have been blending lots of ground yard debris in with the other high nitrogen feedstocks (i.e. fruit, food, and cherry sludge). This creates a good compost recipe and reduces odors from composting food scraps. About 3-4 weeks ago we lost a main source of woody material, which has made our recipe out of the normal balance. The main result is higher odor. We ground up woody yard debris on Monday and have begun blending it back into the recipe, which should make a marked difference. It will take us about two more weeks to blend the woody material back into the remaining compost, which should help mitigate overall odors. If this is not the case, please let us know.

We are thankful to the Port of The Dalles and the entire The Dalles community for supporting our business. Our desire is the be the best neighbors possible and respect others who enjoy this beautiful area. Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback – we appreciate it.

About dirthuggercompost

Co-founder of Dirt Hugger
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