I grew up on a tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina and will turn 60 this year. (Wow!) My parents worked hard, and we lived off the land. Talk about sustainability — food waste went to the hogs; chicken manure went on the land. My father took corn to the grist mill where the corn was ground and put in flowered cotton sacks. The sacks were laundered, and my mother made dresses for me. I watched her ring chickens’ necks for Sunday dinner. We had a cow for milk and butter and planted huge gardens where all kinds of vegetables were grown for canning and freezing. In the winter, we butchered hogs. The farmland was worked by hand. Some chemicals were used, but mainly, my siblings and I had hoes in our hands.
I remember one summer night watching the television with my parents when the astronauts walked on the moon. I can remember watching the cartoon show The Jetsons and truly believing that, by this time of my life, we would be scooting around in space. Technology, medicine, energy, social media — all the changes in my lifetime are almost overwhelming.
Twenty years ago, I worked for a waste company and helped people put their waste in landfills. Today, I work with McGill and help people put compost made from biodegradable waste in yards and gardens, along roadsides and (ironically) on the faces of landfills so grass will grow to stabilize the slopes.
When people think of compost they think of the small compost barrel in their backyard. They do not think about large warehouse facilities taking tractor-trailer loads of wood, food, paper, biosolids, green beans or cotton gin waste, materials that, through our manufacturing process, are converted into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
Farmers are a large part of my customer base. I sell to grain farmers, produce farmers and to pasture land farmers. I just love my farmers, and as a farmer’s daughter, I speak their language. I also feel their frustrations and worries. It is so great to convince a farmer to use our compost instead of chemicals. I tell my farmers that the chemicals are for the plant one time, and one time only. Our compost continues to build up the soil year after year.
I also work with the DOT, athletic field managers, golf courses, military bases, developers and everything in between. The coolest aspect to my job is that I am helping Mother Earth. I am very proud to be a part of McGill Environmental Systems. I feel as though I have gone full circle, from helping people put waste into landfills to now, composting and building a better earth.
— Ruth King