Entrepreneur Whitney Davis Builds A Business Out Of Food Scraps

Leigh Hornbeck Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Whitney Davis has launched a unique business that is "green" in more ways than one. Her company "Loving Earth Compost" transforms' clients food waste into compost ready to spread on a garden to start the cycle of growing plants over again.

Albany

Whitney Davis doesn't mind getting her hands dirty. The coffee grounds, apple cores and banana peels the rest of us spend seconds discarding are all small prizes for the entrepreneur behind Loving Earth Compost.

In October, Davis launched the curbside composting service, the first business of its kind in Saratoga County. She now has 40 customers who place three-and-a-half-gallon buckets loaded with vegetable waste outside their front doors or by their mailboxes. Davis collects the buckets labeled with a cheerful heart-shaped logo once a week, twice a month or once a month and takes them to Adirondack Worm Farm in Hudson Falls. There, she and the farm's owner, Bill Richmond, construct four-foot piles of waste layered with what are known in composting as "browns" — wood chips, hay, paper — a combination that creates the steamy environment necessary for decomposition.

Davis and Richmond check the temperature of the piles and turn them weekly. Airflow and moisture enable the microbes doing the decomposition work to thrive. Food scraps take much longer to break down in landfills because not enough air gets in, Davis said.

After about 35 days in the initial "hot process," Davis and Richmond turn the piles and move them to the next phase of composting, which creates less heat. In about four to six months, the food waste has been transformed into compost ready to spread on a garden to start the cycle of growing plants over again.

Davis said the work involves a lot of manual labor, but it's worth it to know the vegetable waste isn't going to go into a landfill, where it takes far longer to decompose and creates methane — a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming — or going through a sewage system where more energy is used to process waste. Once a year, Loving Earth customers will receive a bag of compost.

Davis has two children, ages 4 and 8 with husband Joe Davis, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University at Albany. She is an occupational therapist and has worked 14 years in the field. She's remained committed to composting even as her family has moved frequently in recent years. During one move, she dumped her composting bin into a plastic tub and took it along with the rest of her belongings so she could keep it going in her new home. The Davises are now in the process of buying a home, and Davis is looking forward to starting a garden, using the nutrient-rich fruits of her labor.

After moving to Saratoga three years ago, Davis started volunteering with Sustainable Saratoga, a local environmental group. She started a compost drop-off program at Pitney Farm, on West Avenue.

"I realized there weren't resources for people who didn't want to compost themselves but wanted to save their food scraps and be more environmentally conscious," Davis said.

When the program at the farm ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis decided to offer a service herself. Although composting is widespread elsewhere — California legislators passed a law mandating composting in order to curb greenhouse gases — curbside programs aren't the norm in the Capital Region. Davis hopes more people will become interested in composting — whether they start a pile in their own backyards or hire her to take it away.

For more information on the services provided by Loving Earth Compost, go to the website, https://www.lovingearthcompost.com/ ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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