Hood River Curbside Composting – May 1

When Dirt Hugger was still a glimmer in our eye a main goal was to help get curbside composting going in the gorge area, especially our home town, Hood River. It was a driving reason we left our jobs to start this business. Seven years later, we are happy to report that curbside composting will begin the week of May 1st. The seeds were set for this by David Skakel and Tri Counties Recycling eight years ago and they were sown by the current Hood River City Council, Hood River Garbage, and a boat load of concerned citizens. For that we are thankful.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 10.02.56 AMSo, you may be wondering what to do with the three new carts that will be delivered to your driveway starting next week. Here’s a quick run down:

What? – new collection service and new carts. The service will offer composting (yard debris and food scraps) every week. Recycling and garbage will alternate every other week. There will be a calendar included with your cart. In short one week will be compost and garbage the next week compost and recycling.

Why? – for starters this is keeping in line with best practices for materials management. The bins are larger to accommodate for increased recycling and landfill diversion. The carts are safer for the drivers (torn rotator cuffs are very common in waste hauling). Plus, the lids are attached to the carts so hopefully fewer of them will be blowing down the street on your commute home from work.

When? – Starting the week of May 1st

How Much? –  rates will increase for all Hood River Garbage customers by $7.25/month. Ouch – yes we know, the increase is to pay for collection trucks and the carts ($60 each). We are told that on average 10% of the carts are renewed each year, so there is a recurring cost with regards to the carts. Also, for the record, it is less expensive to bring materials to a composting site than the landfill.

What does Dirt Hugger have to do with this? – Dirt Hugger will process all of the compost materials emanating from this new service.  The good news is roughly 30% of a typical household waste stream is compostable. We will help divert that from the landfill and turn it into organic soil amendment. Last year we composted 32,000 tons of material. We expect an additional 1,000 tons of material from this program so we will see a bump in our production.

Anything else? Yes! Our one request to everyone in this new program is to please keep anything that isn’t food or yard debris out of your cart. A good rule of thumb is ‘if you can eat it, we will compost it’.  Composting is great, but it is not the end-all garbage solution. Please don’t optimistically put in things to your compost bin. We cannot take compostable bags, coffee cups, dirt (ironic we know), rocks, shoes (we get one a day), or compostable utensils. The marketers for ‘compostable’ products are very good. They will tell you that these green color items are the answer to your problems, but believe us, they wreck our system and equipment and we hand pick out all things that are not food or yard debris. It is a disgusting job and it is time consuming and expensive to do.

Please remove all food from their bags, packaging and twist ties. We appreciate it.

There are a bunch of resources on this program on the City’s website including FAQ’s, Hood River Garbage’s website (coming soon) and EnviroGorge just penned a well-written article.

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Spring Orientation

In the world of compost springtime is far and away the time to shine! Or perhaps the time to rise and shine–after an incredibly long winter it feels as if we are waking from a lazy, unproductive torpor.  Still, looking back on the past few months, we have made some strides forward (albeit at a winter pace).

The first thing that comes to mind–our crew has been hard at work screening finished compost around the clock–producing some of the best material we have ever offered. Our front end loader wizard, Mike Lock, has been giving it his all screening day in and day out. That said, we’re well stocked with fully mature Organic Compost, and we are thrilled to see it going out to the Gorge’s gardens, farms, and orchards.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, we sent a couple of  our crew to the Compost Facility Operator Training–a week long intensive course in Puyallup, WA.  A month or so later, we received their final exam results in the mail; one of our lead operators, Gavin, scored a 103% on his exam!  We’re still trying to figure that out. Funny enough, we recently received data on our line up of soil blends for this year–our 50/50 Blend scored a 100% for Emergence and 105% for Vigor of sensitive seedlings.  Our Garden Blend was right up there too!

a hearty scoop of garden blend

The winter (and the spring that started out like winter) gave us a little time to sit around, conjure, scheme, and plan.  A few projects simmered to the top, but one of the main undertakings was the build and paving of soil blending bays and additional retail bays.  So….the rain finally let up a for few days and allowed us to get the job done. We’re excited to put them to use. Last year we we unleashed a line of high-end mixes for potted plants, seed starts, and professional growing purposes; the new bay space will allow us to mix these up way more efficiently.  Similarly, we are continuing to work with nurseries, farmers, and plant growers to mix up and deliver custom soil blends–additional space to do this will help us get the job done more efficiently and to higher quality.

compost, potting mix, and sky puncher are available in bulk and 1cf bags

If you would have stopped by the Dirt Hugger in February you would have seen our bays piled nearly to the brim with with compost encrusted snow.  Finally, now that the snow shuffling game is over, and spring shown her shiny little smile our bays are loaded to the brim with our compost, topsoil blends, and landscaping barks.

All in all, we are excited about the change of pace that spring brings.  It is great to see some life around the site with folks swinging by to drop yard debris or pick up compost, trucks making laps hauling material to our retail partners, and our driver, Donnie, loading up for his next delivery.

This is what its all about–returning organic matter and life to the soil.  Ahhh,  Spring.  Finally.

donnie fixin’ up the ol’ hog

bark chips in the foreground, compost behind

valedictorian, gavin schmidt, showing off his compost facility operator training certificate


a little extra mixing space will make a huge difference. waiting for a few dry days for a proper concrete pour was worth the wait.

garrick and tyler work well together.

the dirt hugger concrete crew left to right: kevin, garrick, andrew, and mike. good work!







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