Karl’s fascination with farming, commitment to composting, and sensitivity to soil health began over forty years ago. He first started experimenting with composting and field soil management on his Vershire, Vermont hill farm in the 1970s. In the process of transitioning from dairy farming and commercial vegetable production, Karl started his first commercial composting business in the 1980s. The evolution of Vermont Compost Company brought operations to its current Montpelier location in 1993.
Karl is a farmer, a compost specialist, and a humus connoisseur. A comprehensive understanding of soil and plant science, combined with practical farming experience, allow Karl to understand the needs and challenges organic growers face. Recognized as a pioneer in the field, Karl is committed to crafting consistent, living, compost-based soil mixes to ensure grower success and the revitalization of soil health.
Jane joined Vermont Compost Company in February of 2000, having been a grower-customer for several years. When she’s not at Vermont Compost, Jane and her husband Kevin are busy running their farm business, Highland Gardens, in Putnamville. They grow bedding plants, vegetable starts and produce, all of which are grown in Vermont Compost potting soils. As a result, Jane brings a wealth of horticultural knowledge to our crew.
Jane supplies the company and employees with her patience, wisdom, attention to detail and commitment. Bookkeeping and farming require different skill sets; working with both keeps Jane active and engaged. She values being part of a hard-working community that supports her own commitment to sustainable growing and focuses on providing healthy media to fellow growers for the production of locally-grown food.
Kurt joined the Vermont Compost Company team in December of 2016 as Assistant General Manager. After starting his agricultural career at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Kurt went on to expand and deepen his skill-set as a leading team member of vegetable field operations on a handful of successful farms throughout the Northeast, including Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Farm. Most recently, Kurt managed the vegetable production and farmer education components of an educational farm on Long Island.
Kurt’s passion for environmental stewardship directly informed his decision to enter the agriculture sector. This passion had initially brought him to the United States Coast Guard, where he worked in pollution prevention and response as a day-to-day environmental regulator in the Port of New York, in addition to responding to such catastrophes as the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His dedication to responsible land and resource management continues to motivate him in his daily work as a part of the sustainable agriculture movement.
A native Vermonter with a longstanding focus on soil health, compost, and small-scale agriculture, Kurt is excited to bring his passions and unique skill-set to the Vermont Compost Company team.
Jay has been working with Vermont Compost Company since 2009, working hard to make both high-quality compost and potting soil. Dedicated to artisan production as a best practice, Jay strives to maintain the excellent reputation synonymous with the Vermont Compost brand.
Jordan joined Vermont Compost Company in February of 2012. Jordan brings a great sense of humor, commitment to hard work, and three years of organic farming experience to his job at Vermont Compost.
Jordan most enjoys shaping the landscape with heavy equipment. His acute awareness of machinery allows for precise and efficient work that honors our site and products.
Jordan feels gratification after a day’s work "...because there is so much visible progress and so much potential." Jordan loves to learn from co-workers who have different skills and it's very satisfying for him to see what growers do with the products we create.
May 14, 2013 marks the date Shawn joined the effort at Vermont Compost Company. What started out as a fulfillment oriented position, soon transitioned into animal husbandry, then into a more expansive company-wide support role.
Drawing experience from the restaurant industry, automotive repair fields, various production environments, farming, snow manufacturing, and the tech industry, Shawn offers an entertaining, enthusiastic dynamic along with a variety of creative solutions. As the company generalist, you might find Shawn mending fences, repairing technological gadgetry, plotting future development, land shaping, aiding the fulfillment crew, tracking donkeys in the snow at 3 a.m., or growing vegetables.
Shawn views Vermont Compost as much more than a job. "It's a home, a choice, an intentional component of a path toward personal and environmental responsibility and regeneration. Time here is shared not with co-workers, it is shared with an ethically-conscious family of individuals who care deeply for their contribution to earnest, hard-working farmers, and the network of consumers who thoughtfully support those farmers by purchasing quality organic vegetables."
Sid shares the same birth year as the founding of Vermont Compost Company and grew up alongside the business. He began working at Vermont Compost at an early age, bagging compost, loading trucks, and collaborating with web developers. Though currently pursuing his undergraduate education in Squamish, British Columbia, Sid is still supporting the work of the company from afar.
Sid is passionate about the movement toward sustainability and Vermont Compost's contribution to that movement. He feels our mission to support the growth and vitality of sustainable growers is a truly venerable one. In the future, Sid hopes that businesses like Vermont Compost will be dotted across the country, turning “food waste” into nutritious and essential food.
Rocio has been working part-time at Vermont Compost since 2013. She conducts in-house soil labs and germination trials that ensure the quality and consistency of our compost and potting soils. Rocio has an associate degree in Chemistry from the University of Costa Rica and a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from the University of Maine. After graduating from UMaine, she worked for six years at Cabot Creamery in quality control and research and development.
Rocio has always had a passion for Agriculture. She grew up on a coffee farm in Costa Rica. Her family also grew vegetables, fruits and raised a few cows, pigs and chickens. Agriculture brought her to Vermont in 1995. She was part of an agriculture internship program, during which time she met her husband, John. Currently, Rocio, her husband and their two children own and operate Applecheek Farm, a certified organic livestock farm in Hyde Park, Vermont.
Rocio loves working at Vermont Compost because it allows her to stay connected to agriculture while helping to build a healthier, sustainable local food system. “Through farming, I have learned that soil sustains all of us: animals, plants and people. Wendell Berry says it well: ‘The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.’”
John has been with Vermont Compost Company since October 2015. Toohey (pronounced 2E) can be found daily in the lower yard of Vermont Compost Company, bagging soil, shipping/receiving product, performing facility maintenance, and operating heavy equipment.
Originally from the Midwest, Toohey has spent the past 22 years in Central Vermont studying, raising his family, and working across a range of industries from hospitality, toy manufacturing, and printing, to property management, warehouse management, and graphic design.
With a degree in visual art from Johnson State College and years of managing and training large groups of international students working seasonal positions in Stowe, John brings a range of inter-personal, spatial, creative, and critical analysis skills to a dynamic, team-oriented position.
John believes that, "Innovation occurs at the boundaries of disciplines and Vermont Compost Company is a perfect example of that ethos at play: artists, photographers, earth and soil scientists, educators, diesel mechanics, multi-generational farmers, and equipment operators working and learning together."
It is this team spirit, the sense of community and acculturation that happens each day at Vermont Compost Company that keeps Toohey excited, engaged, refreshed and looking forward to working with interesting people making an important product for a company with a serious, noble mission and REAL socio-environmental conscience. "It is a privilege and a gift."
Main Street Site
The Vermont Compost Company headquarters, located on Main Street in Montpelier, has been operating within the city limits of Vermont's capital since 1996. With over 10,000 square feet of compost mixing, bagging, and storage sheds, we produce compost, potting soil, and eggs year-round. The original barn, built in 1820, moved to its present location in 1910. Substantial repairs and upgrades took place when the property was purchased, and now provides space for bagging, equipment storage, and maintenance. The 1820's farm house hosts an office, lab, break room, and living space for the farm caretaker. Plant trials and small-scale vegetable production takes place in a 1,500 square foot greenhouse.
Chickens enjoy free ranging on and around compost windrows, egg laying, and their evening social scene, safely perched inside the laying house. The equines provide predator protection while mowing and fertilizing our pastures. Prime tillage is always available if we are interested in moving trials outside for production.
Vincent Flats Site
We also manage an eleven-acre site in East Montpelier located seven miles from our Main Street headquarters. In partnership with Fairmont Farms, we handle excess cow manure and spoiled feed. This site has helped us keep up with the growing demand for compost and potting soil, and is conveniently located under half a mile from the main cattle barns.
In 1960, when Karl was eight years old, his parents left their home on Manhattan’s West Side with one thousand dollars in their pocket. They drove north searching for 100 acres of suitable land. They got as far as Vershire, Vermont, where they purchased 125 acres of pasture and forest at the top of the watershed, for $1,250.
From his earliest memories, Karl was fascinated with farming. During the 1960's, Karl discovered his Vershire neighbors Charles Orr, Bill Perkins, Stanley Kendall, Gile Kendall, Ralph Brown, et al. These seasoned farmers were still operating using traditional farming methods on their manure-based, horse, and horse/tractor powered farms. They taught Karl how to stack loose hay, drive a horse, and drive a tractor. Karl said, “They showed me how to go out in the woods and pull the guts from hollow logs, moving them with a wheelbarrow to feed the hogs. They fed horse and cow manure to hogs. They bedded cows with grass and leaves..."
When Karl was in his teens he left public education to follow his own path. In 1969, he traveled to Spain where he worked with the local farmers and started a bagel baking business. As a teenager he traveled to New Mexico to farm. By the time he was 19 he came back to Vermont and began to clear land, starting an organic farm on his family’s land in Vershire. He said, “We started farming in 1970. Milking goats and cows, selling vegetables at the farmer’s market, Norwich market, and to New England Produce, which later became Squash Valley Produce.”
Karl remembers a local hardwood bobbin mill on a 10-acre river bottom where lay a “library” of different piles of bark, all separated by species and age. With access to this resource he experimented, “When I got there you could buy an eight yard bucket for $2.00, any species and any age: ash, yellow birch, maple, oak. When you clear hardwoods you get incredibly vigorous plants.”
With learning partners like organic grower, Eliot Coleman, who was then at the nearby Mountain School, Karl began to realize commercially available fertilizers and potting soils didn’t have any labeling declaring their ingredients. Karl began experimenting, making his own compost and potting soil. During this period, Karl also began to read extensively on the topic of organic growing. Among his influences were Sir Robert Howard, who developed the “Indore process”, named after a town in the state of Punjab, India, where Sir Howard had farmed in the 1920's. Sir Howard’s book An Agricultural Testament established one of the central principles of organic farming: “Feed the soil, and the soil will feed the plants.” From this principle came the Vermont Compost Company motto, “Feed the Soil.”
Karl has been instrumental in starting a number of manure processing and composting operations. In 1987, Karl started Moody Hill Farm in Millerton, a greenhouse growing operation that produced its own compost and potting soils. That operation continues an extensive organic growing operation to this day, under the name of McEnroe Organics.
Karl helped to found the Intervale Compost facility in Burlington, Vermont, and the manure composting operations at Lemax farms in Hartland and Lylehaven Farm in East Montpelier, Vermont. The current Vincent Flats composting facility in East Montpelier, operated by Vermont Compost Company, is an integral part of the operations of Fairmont Farms, a large dairy operation. Karl continues to offer consulting services to further the development of composting, organic growing, and sustainable egg production.
In 1996, Karl bought the Main Street Farm in Montpelier, Vermont. Since that time, Vermont Compost Company has grown from a small local operation to a company supplying soil to professional organic growers all over the country -- growers who rely on consistent, high-quality growing media, amendments, consultation, and support.
Cody, Katie, and Ruby.
Our Culture: As a dynamic, growing business, we value the diverse skills, philosophies, and educational backgrounds our employees bring to Vermont Compost Company. If you imagine yourself working, growing, and sharing your skills, philosophy, and background with us, please send your résumé and a brief cover letter to Kurt Ericksen: firstname.lastname@example.org