At the Organic Mechanics production facility, located in Modena, PA, the company’s commitment to running a sustainable business goes beyond soil production. In addition to creating 100% organic peat-free soil using locally-sourced ingredients, Organic Mechanics has adopted earth-friendly practices that range from using bio-diesel delivery trucks and manufacturing equipment, to utilizing recycled materials to make shipments. Their earth-friendly line of 100% organic soil blends are preferred by professional gardeners, local farms, and botanical gardens because they are made with everything plants need to flourish naturally.
Mark Highland, owner and founder of the Organic Mechanics Soil Company, has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. Even as a boy, he was drawn to spending his days outdoors, playing in the dirt:
“As a young kid, Mark made his connection to the natural world early, digging around in his grandmother’s vegetable garden, pulling weeds, picking caterpillars off plants, and harvesting ripe fruit.” organicmechanics.com
Over the years Mark developed his passion for caring for the earth into a career. He got the nickname, the “Organic Mechanic” during his time at the University of Florida, where he studied Environmental Horticulture. His graduate work helped develop the compost that is used in potting soil at Longwood Gardens, where he became the Compost & Soil Specialist. In 2006, Mark founded the Organic Mechanics Soil Company.
We asked Mark a few questions about business and tips for growing healthy, hearty plants:
What’s the most rewarding part of your business?
Sharing a message of sustainability for home gardens & gardeners. Seeing gardeners go earth-friendly in the garden. Donating potting soil to schools and planting gardens to teach children the life lessons of growing a garden.
What are signs of healthy soil? Unhealthy soil?
Well there’s soil and then there’s potting soil. Soil is in the ground – sand, silt, clay, water, air space, organic matter. Potting soil is actually soil-less, and in the case of Organic Mechanics, consists of compost, coconut husk fiber, aged pine bark, worm castings, and rice hulls. That said, the following is true of each type, both soil and potting soil. Healthy soil is abundant with soil biology, has good moisture holding capacity, but is well drained. Unhealthy soil has low soil biology, can have poor drainage, poor water holding capacity, or any number of other specific problems, and is usually nutrient deficient.
How can a customer tell if their plants are happy?
Your plants will tell you when they’re happy! If plants grow consistently and stay green – all is right with the world. Even if your plants don’t grow much don’t fret, they just might not have enough light, water, or nutrients. Soil should dry out in between waterings, but must be watered frequently to ensure the soil stays evenly moist. If growing veggies or annuals, you need fertilizer to keep plants looking their best. A 4-6-4 fertilizer is perfect for flowering and fruiting plants since it has good Phosphorus content (the middle number).
Any new an exciting product arrivals?
One of our newest products is our Cactus & Succulent Blend. Its formulated to drain well yet hold just enough moisture for cactus & succulent roots. This new blend has Biochar added for an extra boost along with other crunchy ingredients like expanded shale and chunky sand.
What ways do you give back to the community?
Along with Waste Oil Recyclers, we were the founding members of the Mogreena Garden Project (a partnership between the Chester County Food Bank and the Coatesville Youth Initiative). I remember the first gardens we sowed – lettuce, garlic, tomatoes, pumpkins, & strawberries. It drew us in and we celebrated it. We remain fully engaged in the project, providing soils, seeds, plants, knowledge, hope, and a whole lotta elbow grease. The Mogreena Garden Project is entering its 6th year.
We’ve got to hand it to Organic Mechanics – they have making high-quality soil down to a science, and they’ve mastered the art of giving back to the earth in the process.
To learn more about the Organic Mechanics Soil Company, visit www.organicmechanicsoil.com.