The diversion of food scraps and other organic matter from landfills per Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) presents an expanding economic opportunity for Grow Compost of Vermont to provide organics hauling and management services to food scrap generators such as schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions. Grow Compost of Vermont anticipates organic hauling services will account for over 65% of revenue in 2016, compared to 54% in 2015 and 17% in 2014.
To meet the increased demand, Grow Compost, based in Moretown, plans to triple their livable wage employment numbers over the next three years. Additionally, owners Scott Baughman and Lisa Ransom estimate their expanded capacity to serve food scrap generators will indirectly result in over a dozen new food system jobs to help manage the organics diversion at schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions.
The Flexible Capital Fund provided $250,000 in permanent working capital for capital improvements, salaries, and operational support to help secure Grow Compost’s expansion of the organics diversion market in Vermont. The Flex Fund balances loan structure to fit the needs of growing Vermont businesses, without diluting ownership, by offering flexible risk capital (often referred to as near equity capital or mezzanine financing) along with technical assistance.
“Grow Compost is the only organics hauler in Vermont currently providing consistently clean organics diversion from food scrap generators to be redistributed back into the food system. Food rescue for the Vermont Foodbank and food shelves, soil building for compost produced and sold by Grow Compost, and renewable energy production at Vermont Technical College’s anaerobic digester,” says Janice St. Onge, Flexible Capital Fund president.
Grow Compost’s fleet of trucks are specially outfitted to collect and safely store, without contamination, a variety of organics diversion – safe and edible food, food waste for animal feed, food scrap “fuel” for anaerobic digesters, and organic matter for compost.
“Grow Compost’s relationships with the Flex Fund highlights and compliments our values and commitment to healthy communities where no one is hungry and no resource is wasted,” says Lisa Ransom, co-owner of Grow Compost. “The working capital from the Flexible Capital Fund will strengthen our ability to divert food and organic materials in Vermont that would otherwise be wasted and convert them into a valuable resource to support our local food system.”
As a mission-based lender, St. Onge couldn’t agree more. “Grow Compost supports the Vermont working landscape, adds value to our food system, and helps mitigate climate change by keeping methane out of landfills and in anaerobic digesters instead to produce renewable energy. And, in doing so, will create more jobs for Vermonters. This is the kind of resiliency we need more of in Vermont and the Flex Fund is committed to helping Vermont companies accelerate the rate at which we move towards healthy food systems, renewable energy, and climate change solutions.”
The Flexible Capital Fund provides creative financing in the form of near equity capital (subordinated debt and royalty financing) to growth-stage companies that strengthen the supply chain in sustainable agriculture and food systems, forest products, renewable energy, clean technology, and other natural resource sectors. As a mission-based mender, the Flex Fund is committed to helping portfolio companies grow, and therefore accelerating the rate at which Vermont, and the region, moves towards healthy food systems, renewable energy, and climate change solutions. Learn more: www.FlexibleCapitalFund.com
Grow Compost of Vermont was born of a desire to live in closer harmony with the cycles of nature and to respond to the great environmental issues of soil health and landfill space. Grow Compost emerged in 2008 on a small farm in Moretown as a space for nurturing microbial life and creating healthy soils. Grow Compost responds to the need throughout the Central Vermont Region for farm residual management, the desire for high-grade compost in organic gardening and food production throughout New England, and the stewardship of agricultural resources in our communities. Learn more: www.growcompost.com
Photo: Scott Baughman and Lisa Ransom, co-owners of Grow Compost, credit Perry Heller