Turning trash into gold

An on-site look at Hammond Farms in Lansing: What started in 1982 as a modest farm has become one of Michigan’s largest suppliers of compost and mulch.

July 16, 2018

Clifford E. Walkington is General Manager of Hammond Farms, where he’s been for 22 years. He took over from Lee Hammond Senior. Lee Hammond Junior, son of the company founder, is ready to take on the job. “I’ve been with the company since I was in school”, he says. “I was bagging product when I was ten.”

A true success story
Lee Hammond Senior’s idea was that Lansing needed a “one-stop-shop” for all gardening products. “We never stopped developing along those lines”, says Clifford. Today the company puts out nearly 80,000 cubic metres of mulch, including 50,000 cubic metres of coloured mulch. “In the past few years organic waste has become more and more important”, says Clifford. Now the farm processes large volumes of green cuttings compost and mixes it down to about 40,000 cubic metres of premium soil substrate. Hammond even has paving and decorative stones on offer.

"We turn what looks like trash into a beautiful product." - Clifford E. Walkington


An eye for the process
In addition to processing the biodegradable waste, Clifford needed to find the right recipe for composting this very damp material. “We used to mix the material with front loaders. That took two weeks. Now we do the same amount in three quarters of a day with a Topturn X63. You can only earn money with the process when you understand it. And we do, at both ends.” Hammond Farms gets paid not just to take the organic waste, but also for the finished product.

Spring in high season
Spring is when Hammond is at its busiest. Demand for all products starts to rise in late March along with the temperature. “At the beginning of spring we can’t make enough material”, says Clifford. “The two screeners run practically around the clock.” The screeners he’s talking about are star screens, a Multistar L3 and an XL3. The L3 is the older one, with six years at Hammond and over 5000 operating hours under its belt. “The screeners go far towards reducing shredding costs, because we only need to reshred the screen overflow”, says Clifford of the economic considerations involved.

The future is green
“We also know that we have a responsibility to educate the public. More and more schools and interested individuals come to visit us and tour the plant”, says Clifford. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The next generation needs to do better, and I’m sure they will.”