Table to Farm

Dallas startup turns your leftover food scraps into compost gold

Dallas startup turns your leftover food scraps into compost gold

Turn Compost
Turn turns your scraps into something valuable. Photo courtesy of Turn Compost

A startup is adding a valuable service for Dallas that helps cut down on waste. Called Turn Compost, it's a service company that picks up food scraps from restaurants, businesses, and residents of certain areas in Dallas, which it transforms into valuable composting material.

Away go your coffee grounds, banana peels, and carrot tops. What comes back is a rich organic matter that gardeners call "black gold." It cuts down on the amount of waste, shrinks our landfills, and helps plants grow.

Turn was founded by Lauren Clarke and Agueda Jacobo, who met while attending El Centro College. Clarke has a background in strategic communications and is also a Dallas County Master Gardener. Jacobo is an industrial engineer from Mexico and Spain.

Right now, at least 30 percent of what goes into Dallas' landfill is compostable kitchen and yard waste — all of which could be put back into gardens and plantings across the city.

"We're passionate about providing a comprehensive service that makes it easy for residents and businesses to do the right thing," Clarke says. "DFW is one of the fastest growing metroplexes in the United States and there's no reason why we shouldn't be doing this, as other cities across the U.S. are. Agueda and I both know and love the food and plant process and we hope we can make a difference."

Clarke was exposed early on to composting by her grandmother. "My grandmother was a child of the Depression who grew up on a farm, and they made use of everything," she says. "I feel like the way she did things is what's missing in Dallas."

They've started out by offering the service to residents in East Dallas, Uptown, Greenville Avenue, and Lakewood. "These are areas where we feel like the community might be more receptive," Clarke says. "Some of that includes people who live in condos and don't have their own yard."

You can order a one-time pickup or sign on for a subscription. Prices start at $28.

"We drop off a compost starter kit which includes a 5-gallon bucket with lid, and a guide of what you can and can't put in," Clarke says. "When it's full, you leave your bin outside your door, and we pick it up and leave a clean bin."

If the satisfaction of helping improving Dallas' waste output is not enough, Turn has a benefits program in which subscribers get locally-made products such as honey from Bonton Farms delivered to their doorstep.

They'll give you back your compost for your household plants, or you can donate it to their partners such as Bonton Farms, Texas Worm Ranch, Urban Chicken Inc., the Green Restaurant Association, and the Lakewood Elementary School Garden.

They're working on two initiatives that would see big results: partnerships with local restaurants, and contracts with high-rise buildings where everyone in the building would be involved.

"Some people might think it's crazy to give us money so we can pick up your food waste, but we have a sense of responsibility to the environment," Clarke says. "And it's one more step in the garden-to-table model."