Martin's Farm Compost and Mulch

Dirt is the Salt of the Earth

from Edible Pioneer Valley, by Marykate Smith Despres | Photos by Nikki Gardner

Adam is a dirt farmer.

He speaks earnestly, and excitedly, and in threes. “Cardboard, food waste, and paper,” and “temperature, oxygen, and moisture,” and, of course, “blood, sweat, and tears.” These are the trinities that make Martin’s Farm compost, the ingredients that turn our cast-offs into fodder for flowers and food.

“It’s a wonderful morning!” Adam says as he greets me in the front lot of the farm. There is a baby on his right hip and two men standing on his left, eager to fill their truck with his loam compost mix. It is actually quite cold, even for March, but Adam is clearly and genuinely pleased with the day. He tells me he’ll just be a minute as he climbs up into the cab of a tall digger, one hand on the metal ladder rungs, the other under the baby’s bottom.

The men leave with dirt and handshakes and I join Adam and the baby in the digger. We drive out back, past small mountains of multicolored mulch, all naturally dyed, to the windrows of compost in the making, each one 500 feet long: 500 cubic yards of ground-up cardboard, paper, leaves, manure, and food waste. The baby sucks on her pacifier and plays with the gears and the steering wheel as we idle in front of the rows.

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