A backyard composter, Jamie Blanchard-Poling knew something had to change for how composting is done locally with small piles and only in the warmer months. “I wondered why there wasn’t a solution—not in Northern Colorado. I decided I could be that solution,” said owner and queen Blanchard-Poling.
Blanchard-Poling founded Compost Queen in 2018, operating it on partner farm sites until March 2023, when, with state grant funding, she was able to open her headquarters at 1505 N. College Ave. in Fort Collins. She picks up food waste at her customers’ homes and businesses and takes it to the headquarters and four permitted farm partners in Fort Collins. She does curbside pickups in Fort Collins and Timnath, but also has five drop-off sites in Fort Collins, Windsor and Loveland. “We do everything with organic waste from top to bottom,” Blanchard-Poling said. “We pick it up, haul it and take it to whichever facility that route goes to.” Customers get a 4-gallon bucket they can fill with food scraps for weekly or biweekly curbside services or for drop-off at their convenience. They then can collect finished compost during two customer appreciation days.
“We have a very high retention rate of customers because we do such a good job in what we do,” Blanchard-Poling said. “It’s a really good feeling when you get a finished product out of what other people call waste.”
At each of the farm sites, Blanchard-Poling and her staff create compost piles, adding food scraps, farm waste and other organics to the mix. They monitor the water content and temperature until the compost is a finished product, a process that takes about four months. She halves that time at her headquarters, operational as of October, by using an Aerated Static Pile Composting system purchased with a Front Range Waste Diversion grant she received for equipment and establishing her headquarters. “With our new system we will be producing a lot more, so that way we’ll be able to sell it to the public,” Blanchard-Poling said.
To grow her business, Blanchard-Poling works with the Larimer Small Business Development Center, where she’s taken classes on starting a business and works with consultants on marketing, bookkeeping and financial planning. “They lay a solid framework of what to do when starting a business, and that’s helped me immensely, as well as all of their resources,” Blanchard-Poling said. “It helps me separate the different aspects of business, so it’s not just one pile of things to do.”
Blanchard-Poling also looks to the Larimer SBDC anytime she has to pivot, including adding her farm
partners and streamlining her offerings to just buckets and carts. The grant helped immensely with her biggest challenge, financing, but now she needs more funding for advertising and to grow her business, including adding municipal contracts for multiple, decentralized facilities around Northern Colorado.
“My advice for entrepreneurs is don’t give up. If you give up, you never know what you could have
achieved.” Blanchard-Poling said. “Now I’m a success story.”