Ellen Dage is excited about dirt.
The Stapleton resident started Happy Dirt Composting last September and has a vision of a community-wide composting program.
“I’ve always wondered why gardeners don’t compost communally,” she said. “Instead of doing all of the work themselves, one person could do it, and they could share the profits.”
Ellen’s company is actively enrolling residents in a compost program that’s hosted at The Urban Farm at Stapleton. For $15 a month or $130 per year, a bucket will be dropped off at your house. You can fill the bucket with old food and other items, and Ellen will pick up the donations every week.
You’ll then be able to use completed compost at a reduced rate for the spring gardening season.
“People want to compost, but they don’t have a big enough yard or maybe there’s another problem,” Ellen said. “This gives them an opportunity to participate.”
In order for the program to be sustainable, Happy Dirt needs 500 participants but can start with 250.
“I have about 75 customers so far,” she said. “You can compost everything from bedding in hamster cages to leftover food.”
This all started with Ellen’s passion for teaching.
“I was a special education teacher for 13 years and needed a break. I was looking at other options, and The Urban Farm seemed like the perfect resource since it’s our neighbor,” she said. “Kids sometimes have limited opportunities as they grow up. When you have a place like the farm, you can actually see what a cow’s like up close or pick food … you can have educational experiences that are important.”
Ellen also said her compost will be fine-tuned to fit Stapleton’s soil makeup through assistance from Colorado State University’s agricultural department.
“One of the things I want to do is to make the nutrients of my finished compost ideal for our community’s soil problems – balancing everything out,” she said. “The whole time I envisioned this as a community composting service, not a big business. I just wanted to do something that was good for the community and made people happy, which is why I named the business Happy Dirt.”
And part of her mission is to teach students about composting, soil quality, amendments and the environment through educational opportunities at The Urban Farm.