Good Afternoon to all. I am the Founder and President of Ag Choice Organics Recycling. I am a lifelong resident of Andover TWP where my facility is located and I would first like to say that I have no opinion regarding the location of this facility, I have not been to the site, I am not representing either side in this project and I was not paid for them to come to my facility. It should also be noted that the technology they are employing at the proposed facility is much different and more technical then mine offering more control and may not need the buffers i currently have. I know the consultant from being in the business since 2005 and was asked if the town officials could come to my site for a visit to see first hand what windrow composting is all about.
I read the article in the background section written by Allie Molnar and there is one item I would like to correct. In the article she stated that because I knew they were coming, I cleaned up the facility for them. This statement is completely false. I operate year round, I employ 16 people, we process 38,000 cubic yards of material a year on 14 acres, and i have a 20,000sqft warehouse where we recycle coffee capsules so i do not have time to "clean up" if you will for guests. What they experienced was a typical day at the compost site. We work hard to run a clean site and my staff does a good job of ensuring that the windrow recipes are correct so we don't generate odors there and they do a good job of housekeeping so we don't generate odors when materials are delivered to my site. We did receive a load of food waste from a local Shoprite the morning they were there but it was pre-processed prior to their arrival. On site, we have anywhere from 25-32 active rows in process at any given time and we also do mortality composting which includes road kill deer & bear, as well as butcher waste and rendering waste all of which is some of the foulest smelling material you would ever want to smell! I think the people that were there can attest to the fact that they were standing right next to those piles and had little, if any, odors emanating from them no less at the property line. I still live here in Andover and would never want to have people upset because their quality of life was ruined because of odors generated from my facility so I really keep on top of our site and am always looking for ways to improve. Most of the time when i meet people from the community, they say they didn't even know we were here.
I think that it is important that people are educated with FACTS about what is happening in their community, not rhetoric. On my farm there is a brook that is a little over a 1000 feet away from my windrow area. There is a heavily wooded area and some cornfield you have to go through to get to the brook. Someone came to a town meeting when we were starting and claimed that we were going to destroy this brook with fruits and vegetables floating down stream! This idea is ludicrous. The worst part was, this individual is not even from our town. Again I am not advocating for or against this facility but I think it's important that anyone concerned should do some research and educate themselves about composting. You can go to my website and under the media tab there are some video's with drone footage of the site. We have done extensive research with Rutgers University on composting. We have also done a study on the harmful effects of manure runoff in stormwater which are far worse then anything I am producing or the proposed facility would produce. Dr Jean Bonhotal from Cornell University has studied composting for years and has done study after study showing that a proper compost facility will NOT cause any type of ground water contamination or stormwater runoff.
I also read the comments about the facility in South Jersey and am quite familiar with the site as i was contacted by local & state officials about trying present a plan moving forward for this facility. So that facility was never a compost facility. It was a livestock farmer that was collecting off spec food items and using it as a supplement to his feed his livestock. This is a common practice that we do as well. There were 2 problems at this facility. Whatever was not eaten, was direct field applying like a dairy farm would do with manure. He was not composting it. This was taking raw food waste and spraying it on an open field which is not good for a host of reasons, odor generation being one of them. The second problem was he was charging a disposal fee to the haulers so he was taking in more food then his livestock could ever eat to generate extra revenue which just compounded the problem. So he was never really "composting", he was just dumping the leftover food waste on his fields. The reason the DEP & The Dept of Ag had such an enforcement issue is that he did have protections under the right to farm act because he was not "composting", he was using the materials for feed. I could be wrong but i believe that "right to farm protections" would only come into play if the farm was only composting the waste generated from "their own farm". So facilities like mine and the proposed facility would not be granted those protections. This is what happened there to the best of my knowledge. This is a very different scenario then a "compost site" odor issue so that's why I want to emphasize the importance of doing your research and fact checking. They were correct about odors and the site being a problem, but it was not a compost site. Once I submitted my recommendations for trying to remediate this site, I was no longer involved so I'm not sure how it all played out.
Again, I'm not advocating for or against, I just don't like when people resort to hysteria vs fact. Please don't claim that composting on this site is going to kill your children! LOL Just take some time, do some research and base your decisions on facts and science. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Composting is one of the ways we will eliminate landfills, improve soil quality which will enhance the quality of our food supply and combat climate change. It is a shame that some poor operators gave composting such a bad reputation.
Ag Choice Organics Recycling