The questions raised this week as part of Moretown’s appeal of the revocation of Grow Compost’s Act 250 permit are important to a full understanding of the business.
In 2015 Grow Compost asked to have its Act 250 permit revoked citing a conversion to an agricultural-based business where chickens eat or process compost and create manure and eggs. At the time, the town raised concerns about what a revocation would mean and whether there would be any state oversight of the operation. Grow Compost is located in Moretown on Route 2.
Uncharacteristically, Grow Compost’s request and Moretown’s concerns went unheard and ignored by Act 250 for two years. Last fall, a decision was issued, revoking Grow Compost’s Act 250 permit.
Moretown again asked the same questions that had been asked before, namely, who would be looking out for the interests of townspeople if all state permits are vacated. This time the town took it a step further and appealed the revocation to the environmental court division where it will get a de novo hearing. As part of that process, the town is asking legitimate questions about how the state and Act 250 define farm and whether Grow Compost is a farm. The business has two sites, both of which handle commercial compost.
Moretown does need to know what is being done at each site and, specifically, what is being done in the Moretown facility where there are also other operations, some commercial and some agricultural, taking place. These are fair questions for the town to ask to protect itself, its residents and the environment.
The work that Grow Compost does is vitally important. The company is taking food waste that would end up in the landfill and turning it into compost for our gardens. That is good work. Grow Compost has created residential and commercial pickup services for food waste in The Valley and beyond. That work is important to making it possible for people to keep their food waste out of their garbage and for company’s such as Sugarbush to make sure that vast quantities of food waste are composted.
We need companies like Grow Compost and we need some appropriate state oversight to make sure that the business of creating compost adheres to the same protective standards we apply to all commercial enterprises in the state.