There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But in the case of Dave Majewski, a guy who has been in the business of landscaping for a dog’s age, that’s not the case. Instead of simply adhering to industry standards, Dave has spent countless hours learning the greenest methods available to him, which he then infuses into his business. Right now, Dave is concentrating on his East Side composting operation, which is called East Buffalo Custom Composts. I paid a visit to the 4 acre site on Saturday (near the corner of Bailey and Broadway), and couldn’t believe the enormous scale of his resources.
In order to ensure that he ends up with the best compost, Dave told me that it must start with the best feedstock. Feedstock is the raw inventory that shows up at his front gate, which will eventually be converted into compost. For example, Dave recently struck up an arrangement with the Buffalo Zoo to acquire their herbivore waste. Apparently most zoos simply send this type of waste directly to landfills. For Dave, this type of feedstock is pure gold, and will eventually be converted into highly desirable compost.
Dave doesn’t pay for the scraps that end up being delivered to his compost yard. Instead he’s offering a service to those who don’t know what to do with their waste (leaves for example). As for The Zoo, the organization can now feel good about where their waste is going. It’s another sustainable component to their own operation. In fact, in 2016 The Zoo will be buying some of the compost back from Dave, which is ultimately the most responsible form of recycling.
I asked Dave who some of his biggest clients were and he told me [pointing around], “Half of everything that you see here is reserved for RiverWorks. They will be implementing a large scale bio-filtration landscaping project on the site, so they need a lot of composting due to the size of the grounds.”
Dave first got into this sustainable end of the landscaping business when he realized that everything on the market was not exactly what it purported to be. He would look at products and read what they consisted of. Then he would conduct his own bio-chemistry and discover inaccuracies. That’s when he decided that he could do it better. So he set out to learn the business from scratch – a business that he says most people don’t want to change because it’s difficult, time consuming, and is not as cheap. But the end product is the best thing on the market – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. “The topsoil on the market is unsustainable,” said Dave. “That’s not what I wanted to use in my own landscaping business.”
Inquiring further into the formations of the operation, Dave told me, “All I did was I looked at what occurs in a forest – what occurs in nature. It doesn’t get any better than that – that’s what I wanted to recreate. Now I do what it takes Mother Nature to do in 1000 years, and I do it in five months. I take the temperatures of the piles, I turn each one when it’s ready, I log and tag all of the results, and I get the right microbiology in the end. The process kills all of the pathogens, and allows me to focus on the fungal elements. The product that I deliver to my clients is the best on the market, and is nutrient rich, environmentally friendly and fully sustainable.”
For years, Dave ran a composting site at the Central Terminal. That was the first time that he began experimenting with a large scale operation. But eventually he ran out of room, and decided that he needed to look for more land to spread out. Today Dave still lends a hand with the established environmental habitat at the Central Terminal, though he says that the project is mostly self sustaining at this point.
At this point, Dave’s composting operation is completely full, and there’s nowhere to grow at this particular site. He says that that is fine for right now, because he only accepts feedstock from select organizations and operations that he trusts won’t include impurities in their deliveries. “My biggest concern is teaching the next generation how to do this,” he reflected. “I’m looking for someone to help me with the daily operations, who understands the importance of what I’m doing, so that I can pass along everything that I have achieved. Unfortunately the industry is not going to change anytime soon, which means that these types of efforts are the only option to ensure that the cleanest, fungal enriched topsoil is being delivered to people, instead of the stuff that’s currently on the market. And there’s only one way to do it – the hard way… this way.”
Buffalo Rising caught up with Dave in 2015, when he first established his composting operation at this site (see here). Since that time, the operation has been attracting the attention of a number of grassroots operations and local developers. Hopefully this trend will continue.
Get Connected: East Buffalo Custom Composts, 716.432.2960 (email)