From Zoo to You

How byproduct from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium makes its way to a Delaware farm—and to gardens throughout Central Ohio

By
From the June 2014 edition

First things first: Don’t call it “waste.” The daily delivery of thousands of pounds of manure, coffee grounds, wood chips, newspaper and food scraps that go into Price Farms Organics’ composts are “byproduct,” owner Tom Price says. After all, none of this will be wasted. First things first: Don’t call it “waste.” The daily delivery of thousands of pounds of manure, coffee grounds, wood chips, newspaper and food scraps that go into ’ composts are “byproduct,” owner Tom Price says. After all, none of this will be wasted.

Price, who started the company in 1997, is a compost connoisseur, creating products that landscaping companies big and small—and homeowners, too—use to enrich their soil.

“We believe in amending our soil in Central Ohio,” says Karl McCullough of McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery. “We like Price’s materials because they’re very high in organic matter, which makes a really good soil amendment.” 

Made of horse manure, scraps from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s animal kitchen, chips from local tree-trimmers and other organic products, Zoo Brew is one of Price’s most unique products.

A chance encounter with Jack Hanna 10 years ago led to a partnership between the farm and the zoo that’s been beneficial for both parties, Price says.

“Our mission is to help people and livestock recycle food and fiber from the surrounding community,” he says. “Most of this byproduct would otherwise be destined for a landfill.

“We like projects like this,” he adds, “projects where one plus one equals three.”

The Zoo Brew compost is “brewed” for nearly two years in a facility on the outer edges of the farm, a Class 2 recycling facility as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Its microbes and nutrients make for a healthier soil, but that’s not the only perk—when mixed with tough Central Ohio clay, the result is a soil that’s softer and better at absorbing water.

“In New Albany, we have terrible soil that we have to amend,” says Nick McCullough, who owns the landscaping company started by his father. “We’re not creating and walking away from our gardens; we’re maintaining them, too. So we have to start correctly.”