Dirt Hugger- Local Compost

Dirt Hugger is a regional composting company that supports a sustainable, local economy by collecting, processing, and utilizing valuable organic nutrients locally. The Tri-Counties Organics Management Feasibility Study highlighted the growing need for a compost facility in the Columbia River Gorge. Without access to composting services, organic materials are consequently processed in unsustainable ways; they are dumped in landfills where they produce 40% of the nation’s methane gas emissions, burned in open air piles, or trucked long distances to urban processing centers. Applying the concept of local sourcing to organic waste management, Dirt Hugger offers an environmentally responsible waste management alternative for residents and businesses in the local Columbia Gorge community.

Dirt Hugger is a proud member of:
US Composting Council (since 2010)
Organic Materials Review Institute (listed since 2011)
Gorge Owned Business Network (since 2011)

Contact Us: 541.946.3478 (DIRT)

18 Responses to About

  1. Susan Crowley says:

    How does a single Hood River homeowner contribute yard debris to you?



    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the post. At first, all of the yard debris will continue to be deposited through Hood River Garbage and The Dalles Disposal. We are in discussions with Waste Connections on the best way to handle individual yard debris and value your input.


  2. Stan Heinemann says:

    Your project has been a dream of mine for several years but I have not taken the the initiative or financial investment to do it.– I would like to be a part of what you are doing. My hope is that some day Bio-digesters can be built to recover much of the wasted energy in composting.
    A recent article in Pop-Science.
    Is exactly what I am thinking, may be of interest to you. I wrote to Pop. Sci. about the machine but have not had a reply yet.

    • Hi Stan,

      Thanks for the comment. Biochar and Pyrolysis are something we would like to explore- but at first we want going to crawl before we walk and focus on composting yard debris. That said, we’d be happy to meet up and discuss your ideas.

  3. What you are doing is amazing!! I think you are tapping into the dreams of many. I was part of starting the first food waste collection company in the Washington DC area, and our major challenge has been access to enough facilities. We have looked at starting our own facility but continue to run into this capital investment challenge. The other hat I wear is working with the small business development community and economic development community around supporting entrepreneurs in the growing green and sustainable economy. I have actually been working with a small business support organization in Olympia Washington, called Enterprise for Equity. Would love to connect you guys to them and see if there are some other avenues to support your work and financing needs. I did find out that some folks at Washington State Univ have developed a backyard anaerobic digester. Have you heard of this?

    The point being, I would love to connect and learn more as you proceed forward.

  4. Nice work Boys!

    I was just having conversation with many of the local alpaca owners her in the Bozeman, MT about their manure piles and if they were used or anyone collecting for compost. Trying to figure out who was interested in local compost and all the what’s, when’s, how’s, why’s, where’s, etc. Then I remembered friends back in Hood River were were venturing into the business. Great Job! Stay connected and we’ll see how this will work in Montana.


  5. What a great project to be engaged in…you guys rock! Having also jumped ship from the corporate world into unknown territories to live in Hood River (owning a coffee shop/cafe), I can respect the blind faith it has taken for you to start this endeavor. Trust your instincts, I think it will become a necessity as we need to become more reliant on local living and sustaining communities due to dramatic changes happening in the world around us. This planet cannot sustain our level of consumption and waste, and this project definitely qualifies as one of the ever-elusive Win-Win situations.
    For now, I am excited that Doppio will finally have a way to compost all of our biodegradeable take-out packaging (cups, lids, cutlery, etc). We have been using this type of packaging for over 2 years now without a way to close the loop by returning the packaging to the earth for another purpose (besides filling our landfills!). This is where Dirt Hugger comes in…
    Thanks for taking the leap of faith!

  6. Spencer says:

    Very admirable guys!
    Question – I imagine Portland doesn’t have a municipal compost collection system(?)… Can your business survive if the city implements one? (As some other major cities have done, including my hometown Toronto).

    • Hi Spencer,

      Thanks for the comment. Portland Metro does currently provide for commercial composting (although it is trucked up near Seattle until a previously existing contract expires). One editor’s note from the Oxford article is that we’re actually located in The Dalles, Oregon which is 82 miles from Portland. We service Hood River and Wasco Counties, which do not include Portland. There are a few new food scrap facilities coming online in Portland this year, but the trucking radius is far enough that they shouldn’t impinge on our area.

  7. Jules Burton says:

    Mighty great idea! I would be happy to help make your dream real. I have written some grants to support grassroot groups and projects and am an educator in Hood River. Love to hear from you!

    • Thanks Jules,

      We would be happy to work together on grant opportunities. So far grants have played a major role in getting our operating up and running. We could always use more help too!
      Is there a number where we can reach you?


  8. Anne Radford says:

    Is your company ready to market/sell compost to individuals wanting a pickup load for use in gardens? What is the cost for such an amount? We are located in The Dalles. Thank you. Anne Radford

    • Hi Anne,

      Yes, we are able to sell compost to individuals. Pricing is $38/yard. We are usually around M-F 9-4:30, if you want to be sure give us a call and we’ll make sure to meet you. 541-380-1506.

  9. Billy says:

    Hey guys,
    This is awesome! We are looking to start up a similar program across the country in an east coast suburban county. There is already a composting company in the area but they are industrial scale, solely compost yard waste, produce low quality compost, and kind of have a bad reputation in the community (in terms of air quality, dust, odor, etc.). We are looking to separate ourselves by providing top quality compost using yard waste mixed with produce from food stores and food scraps from local restaurants. Do you have any opinions on compost quality created from yard trimmings, especially referring to grass which is sometimes treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.. And any other opinions on differentiation from the existing industrial composter. Thanks a bunch and keep up the great work!

    • HI Billy,

      Great to hear you are working on a composting facility.

      Regarding compost from yard trimmings, depending on your process and technology you should be able to inoculate any pesticides, etc from yard debris. Yard debris is an accepted feedstock in Organically certified compost. There have been a few persistent pesticides on the market such as aminopyralids, however, EPA has been working to eradicate them from the marketplace. The best way to insure a safe, consistent and high quality product is to conduct extensive testing on both feedstocks as well as finished compost. You can also check for pesticides by doing a bioassay test.

      Our approach has been to test like crazy in order to understand the relationship between feedstocks, process, and finished compost quality. We like having the data to drive improvement in our compost. For example from the first batch to the 4th we nearly doubled in organic context using lab data results to change our recipe. Food scraps will also help bump the nutrient content, but it is a little more difficult to process.

      Hope this helps. Good luck.

  10. Joe K. says:

    Have you guys thought about doing Bio diesel? Also Do you plan on expanding services across the columbia river into Klickitat County? I would think that Allied Waste might cut you a deal on sorting some of there waste, esp if there was a tax right off for them. As well as the waste collectors in Arlington. With that volume it might be worth it.
    Thanks for making a difference!

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for the comment. We have just received a biodiesel plant and will be cranking it up as the weather warms up a bit more this spring.

      We’d love to have services across the river. We have spoken with the Solid Waste Advisory Committee and Allied Waste but haven’t been able to put anything together yet. The biggest hurdle is finding a willing hauler. My understanding is that technically a franchise permit is not required to collect ‘recyclables’ in Klickitat. Thus, an existing company or an entrepreneur could start collecting organics in the county. A good start would be to talk with your local city council person to request services.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the feedback.

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