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September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Dec 1, 2013

 

DianneErskineHellrigelSustainability is our latest buzzword. But sustainability is more than just a buzzword. It is a great opportunity for companies, cities and individuals to explore fantastic avenues for self-sufficiency, creating a healthier environment, and increasing profitability.

As the city of Santa Clarita is quickly moving in a green direction, many companies are following suit by offering sustainable opportunities for their clients. People are becoming more environmentally and economically conscientious.

The Newhall Land and Farming Co. and Agromin partnership has created a sustainable operation right here in Santa Clarita, in the form of green waste recycling.

Bill Camarillo, CEO and Santa Clarita plant manager says, “Over 10 million tons of green waste and 2.5 million tons of urban wood waste enter the waste stream in California. We can now keep this huge amount of waste out of the landfills, and recycle it.”

By recycling this previously overlooked trash, Agromin and Newhall Land are able to reduce the waste that goes to our dumps by approximately 30 percent.

Clean green waste consists of leaves, grass, lumber, branches and yard trimmings. It does not include plastic, kitchen waste, cardboard or other recyclables. Once you’ve put these non-green things in your trash, it is difficult and costly to get it out of the system.

agrominWhen you purchase garden soils, you expect it to be clean and free of plastics, rocks and non-biodegradable trash. You can do your part by keeping those things out of your green waste container.

So, what happens to all of this green waste when it goes to Agromin? Twenty-four trash trucks from Santa Clarita, loaded with green waste, come to the site every day. It is cleaned by hand and machine, which removes non-green trash.

Once the green waste is clean, the company grinds it, screens it, composts it and then it is screened again. The yield is rich, earthy-smelling humus and mulch ready for farm and garden. These products are safe, organic, recycled waste, and it takes us all one step closer to sustainability.

Agromin’s products are used by landscapers, homeowners and California’s farmers. California growers use approximately 40 percent of Agromin’s products. Newhall Land uses the humus, disking it into the soil to improve water retention and thereby saving our precious water. In fact, studies show Newhall Land is using 30 percent less water in its orchards as a result. The company is also using it as a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil, which prevents weed growth. This has eliminated the need to use herbicides in the orchards, keeping the herbicides out of the air, out of the orchards, and keeping our environment healthier.

Problem soils are caused by overuse of pesticides and herbicides, and by the natural erosion of topsoil. Using recycled green waste leads to healthier plants, less use of pesticides and herbicides, conservation of water, improvement of soil fertility, reduction in the amount of nitrates leaching into our ground water, the prevention of erosion – and it puts organic matter back into our soils.

Another unique plus to having Newhall Land working directly with Agromin is that everything is right here in Santa Clarita. The entire operation is local. There are no major trucking operations anywhere. Agromin’s finished products are used locally by Newhall Land’s citrus orchards, as well as other local outlets.

Keeping everything local means no long-distance trucking and virtually no carbon spewed into the air by long-truck hauls. Agromin has also joined the Climate Action Registry, and has agreed to track and report greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily.

Agromin receives 250,000 tons of green waste annually. That is probably 40 percent of our total waste stream. Imagine all of that stuff being recycled instead of going into our landfills. By recycling this green waste, we also reduce the amount of green house gases from the landfills.

Agromin has definitely found a way to grow a “green” business; keep things out of the landfills; make a useful, beneficial line of products; and bring us all one step closer to sustainability.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy.

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