By Bill Sullivan
Sherrian Jones enjoys spreading the word almost as much as she enjoys spreading compost. Having trouble turning your hard-as-rock North Texas soil into workable ground for your shrubs and flowers? A Master Gardener and Master Composter has the answer.
“In Texas, we have such tough soils,” she says. “Compost is the cure for that. You mix in the compost and it breaks up the soil and aerates the soil and holds moisture and nutrients.
“It prevents runoff. It has such a huge benefit to the local community and to land preservation.”
For nearly five years, Jones has been mixing business with her own passion for gardening. As Compost Marketing and Operations Manager for Texas Pure, she oversees production and sales of Texas Pure mulch and compost products.
The processing plant draws residential grass and yard clippings, plus organic food residuals from schools, restaurants and grocery stores, in a five-city area that includes Frisco, Plano, Allen, Richardson and McKinney. Those raw materials are diverted from the landfill and turned into mulch, compost, soil blend, colored mulch and top dressing.
Here’s how it all works:
- Grass, limbs, etc., first go to the Texas Pure plant at the North Texas Municipal Water District site on Custer Road.
- After the materials are crushed, they are trucked to another Texas Pure facility in Melissa.
- There, organic residuals are added, and the compost-to-be is laid out in windrows for mixing and aging.
- Once the compost is ready, samples are sent to an independent testing lab to assure that the finished product meets the standards set by the United States Composting Council.
- After the mix has passed inspection, residents can purchase either by the bag or by the yard.
Sometimes, Texas Pure will take product on the road. At Frisco’s recent Clean It & Green It event, about $600 of Texas Pure was sold.
“If there was ever a reason to show why it is good to recycle this would be one of them,” says Pippa Couvillion, Frisco’s Environmental Services Manager. “Texas Pure Products are made from yard trimmings that Frisco residents place out for recycling collection every week.
“Rather than dispose of them in a landfill we have chosen to compost them. The result; a superior product that will return valuable nutrients to the soil and help us to conserve natural resources for generations to come.”
Before joining Texas Pure, Jones was a volunteer for the City of Plano. When the Texas Pure position opened a little less than five years ago, she jumped at the chance.
“I’ve loved doing it,” she said. “It’s a passion of mine.”
The City of Plano began composting activities in 1992, but the last five years have seen a surge in the product’s popularity as gardeners seek more environmentally-friendly ways to deal with their land’s considerable challenges. Demand has grown, but has yet to outstrip Texas Pure’s ability to keep up.
The City of Plano-owned operation strives to be a break-even endeavor financially.
“The goal is not that it’s a money maker, but that it pays for itself,” Jones says. “It therefore offers a value to the citizens.“
That value, of course, can be measured in more than dollars and cents. By recycling clippings and organic residuals, Texas Pure keeps them out of landfills. Once used at homes or in other projects, Texas Pure products also help retain moisture and cut down on water waste (and water bills).
“We work with the various garden clubs in the local cities,” Jones says. “Collin County Master Gardeners are good customers of ours. We also work on large commercial projects for TxDOT.”
While Texas Pure only collects raw materials from its five member cities, anyone can visit the Custer Road facility (9901 Custer Road, Plano) or the Regional Composting Facility in Melissa (3820 Sam Rayburn Highway) to make a purchase. Custer Road is open Monday through Saturday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., while the Melissa location is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Jones says she is still surprised when “there are still people who don’t realize we’re here,” but the Texas Pure name is spreading. In addition to on-site sales, the brand is becoming available in local stores. Texas Pure also is an approved compost vendor for Wal Mart, which could expand the product to even more markets.