Adam Brent
| Cocoa Corporation

Years of rainwater runoff from farmland and lawns has resulted in increased levels of harmful bacteria, phosphorus and weeds throughout the Macatawa catchment area.

“The key to restoring the health of the Great Lakes in the years to come is to reduce the amount of fertilizers and stormwater runoff that enter the area’s waterways,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

While Project Clarity, the Macatawa Watershed Project, and others are raising public awareness of the runoff and diligently working to restore Lake Macatawa, solutions are limited.

Over the past 10 years I have been developing a sustainable alternative that will replace most of the chemical fertilizers that agriculture uses to grow food.

The alternative also provides a viable solution to the fertilizer runoff threat to aquatic systems.

Since 2015 Cocoa has been producing organic compost from garden and food waste from the Holland region.

The high-quality humus compost quickly improves soil health and contains everything plants need for robust growth.

Cocoa compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and irrigation and drastically reduces the contaminants deposited in the catchment area.

“It’s important to understand when you’re starting out that not all composts are created equal,” said Charles Gould, an extension instructor at Michigan State University.

Compost made from food and garden waste has higher nutrient levels, greater microbial diversity, and helps hold more water in the soil than compost made from leaves.

Soil scientists report that for every 1 percent increase in a soil’s organic matter, the soil will hold an additional 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre, reducing runoff to the environment.

Cocoa compost contains more than 50 percent highly stable organic matter, essential nutrients, and trillions of beneficial microorganisms, making it suitable for any agricultural, lawn or garden application.

Years of laboratory tests and field trials have proven that cocoa compost is able to increase soil health and crop yields while reducing fertilizer use, making it the perfect soil improvement for farmers and homeowners.

Michigan has pledged to double its recycling rate from 15 percent to 30 percent by 2025.

As part of this effort, organic materials, which make up nearly 60 percent of the municipal waste stream, must be diverted from landfills to operations such as cocoa compost.

Michigan’s sustainability goals require the involvement of businesses like Cocoa Compost to help residents, farmers and cities keep organic matter out of landfills and rainwater contaminants off Lake Macatawa.

– Adam Brent is the founder and CEO of Cocoa Corporation, Kakaocompost.com.

About this series

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates on local sustainability initiatives.

This week’s sustainability framework theme

Environmental awareness / measures: Environmental education and the incorporation of environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.