Video

Table to farm: Calgary 'craft' compost branches out

A unique composting operation founded in Calgary is set to expand its small batch, table-to-farm approach to some of Canada's biggest cities.

Company targeting young, urban gardeners sets eye on Toronto after opening Vancouver facility

A unique composting operation founded in Calgary is set to expand its small batch, table-to-farm approach to some of Canada's biggest cities. 0:25

A unique inner-city composting operation founded in Calgary is bringing its small batch, table-to-farm approach to some of Canada's biggest cities. 

Hop Compost collects food scraps from restaurants within a 30-kilometre radius of its facility in southeast Calgary and turns them into fertilizer that claims to be "clean" enough for human consumption.

The company, which started in 2015, says its goal is to reduce organic waste by extending the farm-to-table movement back to the farm.

"A restaurant server is able to scrape an entire plate into one bin and basically rest assured that it's being diverted from landfill," said CEO Kevin Davies.

Kevin Davies started Hop Compost in 2015, after his dog Willy was poisoned by fertilizer in the family garden. He says his mission is to create organic compost so clean it could be eaten by humans without issue. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Because it's based right in the city, Hop Compost claims it has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than rural operations, which have to haul compostable materials much farther. 

The food scraps, bones and even wood pieces come from popular restaurants, cafes and grocers, including Calgary's The Nash, Royal Dinette, Community Natural Foods and Cafe Rosso, Davies said. 

Canadian expansion

The inner-city composting operation began in southeast Calgary, but it opened a new facility in Vancouver last year and plans to open an additional one in Toronto this fall.

Nearly one million kilograms of food waste are processed each year between the Calgary and Vancouver operations, Davies said, and "for an energy bill that's lower than a commercial refrigerator."

At Hop Compost's Ogden facility, food scraps from local restaurants are collected and fed into a hopper, which works like an industrial blender. The feed stock is then treated in vessels designed to cultivate garden-friendly microbes. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

The company markets its product as "Canada's first craft compost," and says each batch is 98 per cent smaller than the industry standard.

Davies says his approach caters to the younger urban gardening demographic.

"The reality of how people garden today — it's typically smaller scale. People are interested in food production now," he said.

"I think that a lot of people are recognizing that home-grown, organic food is really as healthy and as fresh as it comes."

With files from Allison Dempster