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West Coast Compost addresses food waste

Chase, Blaire, and Max Brake of West Coast Compost. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie L. White

Special to the Appalachian

BAY ST. GEORGE — The Brake family in Cold Brook have come up with their own way to give back to their community. What started as a year-end challenge for home schooling in June 2021 has now turned into a family business called West Coast Compost.

Kelly Brake, along with her husband and three children, are doing their part to fill a need that was present in the area.

“We’ve composted since we’ve been here, about three years, and we thought about how we could do it for the community. We did some research, and this is what we came up with,” said Kelly.

The family collects household food waste via weekly drop bins and then composts it. Currently the family operates in Stephenville, Kippens, Cold Brook, and Noel’s Pond, with tentative plans to expand this summer.

“I’ve had a few people reach out from Port au Port and Stephenville Crossing, but not enough to make it that way yet. But now, come the summer, we are going to try and expand a little bit and maybe do certain areas on certain days.”

Pickup times are once a week, and the cost is $5 per pick up. If a bin isn’t full, pick up can be pushed to the following week. That can work out to either $20 a month or $10 a month.

“Anytime anyone contacts me, and they would like a bin, they can either wait until the Thursday or I can drop one off if they want it right away. Every Thursday morning, if it’s full you can put it out, and if it’s not you can wait until the next Thursday.”

After pickup, the Brakes use the compost they picked up for various things, including food for their chickens.

“When we come home, we have compost bins made, bigger ones. We just empty the buckets and give them a quick rinse. We clean them thoroughly with soap and water and fill them with a little bit of wood chips to help with the smell. Then we stack them up for the next week.”

Even though the pandemic has been difficult to navigate, Kelly said it hasn’t caused disruptions to their business because they are able to maintain contact-less pick up and drop off for their customers.

“They put their bins out first thing in the morning. They just put them on their step and we come by and bring them a clean one and take a full one. We don’t ever really have to be in contact except through e-mail and text.”

Kelly said there are no strict limitations on the food items that they will pick up in the bins, as long as there’s no garbage and recycling.

“We basically take anything that you can eat. We don’t take a whole lot of dairy, but we aren’t too strict on it; whatever they’ve got.”

The family was surprised at the number of customers they grew in their first year, and they’ve been able to maintain the majority throughout the winter months.

“We said if we could get 20 customers we’d be pretty excited. We’ve had over 40 over the summer. Now people have stopped for the winter and say they’ll come back for the spring, but still right now we’re holding over 25 customers.”

Kelly said there are many benefits for everyone when they decide to start composting.

“It’s good for your planting and your plant life, in return for your fertilizer. It’s good for the environment – less waste going to our landfills, keeping the birds out of your garbage. It keeps your neighborhoods pretty clean. We’ve had a lot of comments about that. They love that.”

This was really a first year pilot program, and Kelly just wanted to put it out there to see how it would be received.

“Obviously we got a really good response, so this year I’m gonna try to get the word out a little more. We didn’t want to take on more than we could handle this year. Now that we have it rolling and we’re learning what works best, maybe we might be able to advertise a bit more and see if we can pick up a few more customers.”

Anyone interested in having a compost bin dropped can contact West Coast Compost via their Facebook Page: @West Coast Compost, or by sending them an email at westcoastcompost@outlook.com.

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