– by Amelia Kirchoff, GoMacro Co-Founder
As we slowly make our way into the warm summer months, remnants of a wet spring remain on the GoMacro farm. Our area of Wisconsin has seen double the average rainfall for the season. While the animals are enjoying the freshening green pastures, they're also coping with a fair share of mud between their toes.
Our family farm plays an important role in many of the decisions we make as a business, and continuing to practice sustainability efforts is important to all of us here at GoMacro. This month, I've been busy examining ways to recycle some of the by-products from our manufacturing process in hopes of making our hometown of Viola a cleaner place to live.
The first idea that came to mind was to repurpose the large, sturdy cardboard containers that our organic brown rice syrup is delivered in. Our Farm Manager, Ronda, has an eye for turning just about anything into a new home for plants, so naturally this was a great opportunity to put her green thumb to good use. We decided to plant a few of these containers at the GoMacro farm, testing their ability to foster a plentiful organic garden. The trial run will allow us to assess how long the bins hold up in our seasonal climate, whether that be one year, two years, or more.
When the bins finally give out, the soil will be reusable. The broken-down cardboard is compostable and the pallet can be returned to our facility to be used again. These containers could become a real innovation in organic farming, especially in an area with little to no available year-round soil. As an added bonus, we planted our makeshift gardens on top of shipping pallets, making them easy to transport with a fork lift.
We set about gathering the bins together for a reconstruction of sorts, in order to fit our new purpose. We placed them on pallets and cut them in half, allowing us a comfortable height for planting. We reinforced the center and added more cardboard to the bottom for sturdiness.
Concerned about the longevity of the structure in the often extreme Wisconsin climate, we made sure the top edge was covered with plastic sheeting. When filled, each bin will hold 40 buckets of organic potting soil and can comfortably hold an assortment of different herbs and vegetables.
The bins were a joy to plant and will allow us to experiment with planting many more herbs and spices, once unimaginable on the farm. We decided to begin our test with lettuces, mustard greens, herbs and radishes. As crops are harvested they will be replaced by many successive plantings throughout the summer.
The vegetable garden here at the farm has always given us plentiful amounts of vegetables, so we've always offered the surplus produce to our team members. The same bins that once held our organic brown rice syrup will now be filled with even more produce, which will then be harvested and also offered back to the employees and Viola community through a larger, more expansive farm-sponsored CSA.
If these trials go as expected, the longevity of the container would make it worthy of using in more places. For instance, using them to line our outdoor break area or front entrance at the facility. Or utilizing a series of these containers at the local school, helping to educate future generations with a better understanding of the process of growing your own food, healthy eating, and upcycling to reduce waste in our community.
When looking at the big picture for GoMacro, living sustainably is reflected in the cyclical nature at the farm and at the facility. We challenge ourselves daily to find uses and create new avenues for what might be considered waste, and we hope our efforts have inspired you all to do the same.
Live Well & Tread Lightly – Amelia