“People are only looking for a seed-starting, or transplant pot from January to May, [but] our cows are providing us with manure every day of the year.”
This Dairy Farm Turns its Manure Into Biodegradable Pots and Packaging
There’s a lot circulating in the news about how maintaining livestock for meat production and other byproducts are not sustainable. In fact, the amount of land, water, and resources it takes, not to mention carbon emissions it releases into the atmosphere, make this industry one of the major contributors to the climate crisis.
To reduce its footprint, one dairy farm is trying to find innovative and clever ways to be as sustainable as possible. Freund’s Farm in Connecticut has been turning its farm’s cow manure into biodegradable, compostable pots for decades. Matthew Freund, the founder of the farm, wanted to mitigate the environmental impact of his business and decided to study what method would be the most viable.
He reached out to Thomas Morris, a retired soil scientist who worked with farmers for the University of Connecticut Extension. He explained to Freund the impact of phosphorous buildups on dairies. Phosphorous, while beneficial in moderate quantities, can actually suck the oxygen out of the life in its immediate environment if found in larger amounts.
On the dairy farm, phosphorous is supplied to the soil from cow pies, among other things like rock and soil weathering. However, once phosphorous is absorbed into the ground, it can runoff into the waterways which causes damage by encouraging the growth of dangerous aquatic fauna and algae, affecting stream life by taking up the oxygen from the water.
Supported by Morris, Freund Farm started to collect animal waste and turn it into safe and compostable manure plant pots (aptly named CowPots) that actually provide nutrients to newly planted seeds while permitting gardeners to completely avoid the use of plastic in their process.
The pots were a hit, but are not a year-round product. According to Amanda Freund, Matthew Freud’s daughter, the pots are very seasonal: “People are only looking for a seed-starting, or transplant pot from January to May, [but] our cows are providing us with manure every day of the year.”
To address this, the farm’s making a new product available for purchase—packaging corners. The packaging corners were recently unveiled at the Las Vegas PACK EXPO and are reported to be just as protective and solid as the fiberboard traditionally used to ship frames and other fragile items. Although it may take consumers a little bit of time to think of animal excrement as a suitable and desirable material to wrap your valuables in, the overall benefit to the environment should make it worth it. Plus, the packaging corners (as well as the original CowPots) do not emit even the slightest odor.
There are certainly benefits for consumers as well, as they won’t have to worry about recycling the corners. Just throw them out into your yard and it will break down while providing a soil amendment. Both packaging corners and pots have been FDA approved and USDA certified.