The Power of Compost

Compost has always been a fascination for me, particularly the math and the science behind it.  It sounds pretty mundane, even a bit gross at times, but the truth is that it can be a powerful catalyst in so many ways.  The same principles apply to business, and can have huge effect over time.  Changing one’s mindset to think like an investor can lead to massive life changes for the better, just as saving your compost can enrich your landscape.  Ours is an extreme example, but applicable in many arenas nonetheless.  The two parallels I’m talking about with business and compost are the 10x rule, and the law of conservation of energy.


The 10x rule is something I learned from a mentor years ago.  It poses a simple question before making any investment, whether it’s time, money, or even spiritual or emotional matters…

“Will this investment return ten times what I put into it?”

If you ask this question before investing energy in any way whatsoever over a period of years, I guarantee your life will change in ways you can’t imagine.

250 gallons each, these IBC totes can deposit compost anywhere on the property with a forklift

The law of conservation of energy is even more powerful, being based in physics of course.  It states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it can only change forms.  In the instance of our compost here at the Edible Art Cafe, this is even more profound than the 10x rule.  The reason being that for 5 years we’ve actually paid to have our compost hauled away, because there was too much for who I affectionately call “the trash nazis” to haul away.  After doing the math it seems we’ve squandered 40 to 50 thousand pounds of compost.  Hindsight is 20/20, but if we had put that back into the land, our one acre parcel could be a shangri la by now!

This is why I’m so incredibly excited about our newfound capacity for composting.  With 6 IBC tanks on the property, thanks to Benjamin Bridge Winery, we will never squander another ounce of our precious compost.  In mathematical terms, the return is virtually infinite, especially after we 10x our business, translating to hundreds of thousands of pounds of compost!  This is one of the key components that will allow us to bring the remaining 10 acres back to life after executing our plan for procuring the surrounding lands, even to the landscaping and developing our community food forest all the way to the rail trail (a kilometer to the north).

After systematically peeling up the decades old asphalt on our property to make way for gardens, the state of the soil is definitely in need of revitalization.  The dead and suffocated soil will be ridiculously more fertile from this day forth, so I’ll be sure to post lots of updates.  It’s truly mind boggling when you take all the microscopic critters into account.  It’s like we just had the big bang of our ever expanding compost universe 🙂  Thanks again to all of our customers, and the entire community.  Without you, none of this would be possible.

Bringing the soil back to life at the old Horton high school grounds

Fun fact:  The last time I got this excited about compost was in 2010, when I was running a small permaculture farm in the Palolo Valley rainforest on Oahu.  I not only had an unlimited supply of organic fruit and veggie compost from a health food store (for my 34 chickens), there was also a hookup at the Honolulu Zoo for truckloads of pre-composted elephant and giraffe manure (for my terrace garden.)  There was even an anaerobic compost digestor, fueling a low pressure methane cooking system, as well as a veggie oil refinery to fuel our french fry cars, lol.   Those were certainly fun times with happy gardens and chickens, but this is so much bigger, and definitely more balanced with winters off 🙂

Terraced garden in the Palolo Valley rain forest on Oahu

Ariell loved those chickens 🙂