Every night, just before dark, two empty, tandem axel, rear load trucks leave the yards of Organics “By Gosh,” a bulk compost, soil and mulch supplier located in East Austin. Over the next six to eight hours, their drivers travel through Austin, Round Rock, Buda and Kyle, collecting food scraps from grocery stores and restaurants, spent grounds from coffee shops, and hair from salons. Once their routes are completed, they return to the yards and dump the contents of their truck beds into long mounds. Other workers layer the mounds with brush and leaves, and over the next three weeks, they diligently monitor the piles, checking temperatures every day until they reach 131 degrees Fahrenheit, a sure sign that the materials are “cooking” and breaking down. After 90 days have passed, temperatures begin to cool, and for the next nine months or so, the piles are left to sit and cure. By year’s end, what began as a combination of waste and yard scraps has turned into dark, crumbly compost full of nutrients and teaming with life.
If you are a community, school or backyard food grower, chances are your garden beds contain compost produced at Organics “By Gosh” East Austin yards, for the company is arguably one of the most generous businesses in town. Every year, Organics “By Gosh” donates hundreds of cubic yards of compost directly to school and community gardens and to Keep Austin Beautiful as well as Spread the Harvest, an SFC program that provides low-income, school and otherwise underserved gardeners with free gardening materials. Indeed, Spread the Harvest depends on the 75 cubic yards of compost that the company gifts to every Resource Give-Away Day. These events are attended by dozens of school and hundreds of individual and family gardeners who rely on the organic soil amendment to start and sustain their food gardens.
When asked why his company is so generous, Phil Gosh replied that he makes and donates compost because he is committed to “building healthy soils for future generations.” While his company must of course make ends meet, Gosh’s ultimate goal is to “work together with the community to build a better world for our children.” Organics “By Gosh” strives to meet this goal both by donating compost and by producing the best compost in the most sustainable ways possible. In addition to diverting organic waste from local landfills, the company minimizes water and energy use by employing the “static pile” method. In this system, perforated pipes are run through the bottom of each mound and attached to blowers. By aerating the piles, the pipes minimize the need to turn the compost. This reduces evaporation from the piles as well as the fuel that tractors consume each time they turn the mounds. Equally important, Organics “By Gosh” does not rush the composting process. Instead, to use Phil Gosh’s words, the company treats its compost like “fine wine.” While compost is technically done after it has reached 131 degrees Fahrenheit and cooled, the best compost cures for months and months. This gives it time to develop a rich ecology of soil organisms that improve soil structure and help plants absorb nutrients and fight diseases.
As proponents of organic gardening, SFC's Grow Local program often finds itself critiquing the many agribusinesses that harm the environment in an effort to make financial gains. Fortunately, we are blessed to work with a local business that daily demonstrates that environmental stewardship and economic profit can go hand in hand. In light of the company’s environmental conscientiousness and its boundless generosity, we want to thank Organics “By Gosh” for its work. We would also like to encourage Austin gardeners to get to know and to support this laudable local business so that Organics “By Gosh” can continue to support our community.