Can You Dig it? Detroit Dirt is Leading the D’s Composting Revolution

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Optimized-Detroit Dirt photos by Doug Coombe-8496
You know what they say: waste not, want not! Detroit Dirt is saving the world one yard of compost at a time. From collecting unused food scraps to the composting process itself, the brand stands for all around growth; be it through business, sustainability or environmentalism.
Literally representing urban renewal from the ground up, Detroit Dirt has a tried and true commitment to both nature and city. As the city’s first composting company, they believe in eliminating waste and using organic leftovers for the greater good. But what is composting, exactly?
Simply put, it’s nature’s way of breaking down organic materials into natural soil. This soil is typically referred to as compost. The decomposition of food and natural materials makes for the best compost. You can even do it in your backyard.
At Detroit Dirt, it’s a larger scale approach though. Located just blocks west of Michigan Central Station, the organization maintains over two acres of land leased by the Canadian Rail and Detroit Tunnel. It also prides itself on a cyclical process.
First, they provide bins to local businesses (like Ford, GM, The Detroit Zoological Society and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan among others) to collect food waste and scraps. Then, Detroit Dirt representatives pick up the materials and process them at their land plot. Processing includes everything from placing materials in plots to age, to mixing and fermentation. The materials are then continuously primed for separation and wholesale distribution.
“The whole purpose of it, is so people understand where they’re getting everything from. The most health beneficial thing that a person can do is understand where their food comes from, and what they’re growing their food in,” said Detroit Dirt founder Pashon Murray.
Advocacy for community gardens and self-sustaining agriculture certainly help too.
“I’m always encouraging young people to look at project based learning from this,” Murray said. “How can they learn about agriculture and how can they learn how to build?”
Their original gardening sites at Cadillac Urban Gardens and recently developed GM rooftop gardens speak to this ideal as well.
And the support hasn’t stopped there. Detroit staples like Shinola, Quicken Loans and Henry Ford Health Systems are also looking to climb aboard. Ford even collaborated with Murray for a recent commercial that went viral soon after its release.
There aren’t any signs of stopping either. Detroit Dirt is in the process of doing research on soil complexities, expansion to more Detroit locations and making individual bags of compost available for purchase. Sustainability, however, will always come first.
“Personally, I just want to continue to campaign. Sustainability is the candidate and I want to continue to push to corporations and restaurants and get more people involved in the community. That’s my goal: to try to get as much attention and awareness as possible.”
As for newcomers to the Detroit entrepreneurial and environmental scene, Murray has strong hopes too.
“To me, there’s no such thing as waste,” she said. “Everything has value to it. And so, individually as well as with corporations and organizations, we have to look at the waste train and divert it from the landfill. Waste reduction should be a priority for all people.”
Want to pitch in? Stay tuned to Detroit Dirt’s social outreach, learn how to start composting yourself and let us know how you practice environmentalism in the comments below!
Photo credit: Doug Coombe

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