Alumni Spotlight: David Golden ’14

David the Durango-tang and Composting in Colorado 

Originally from Loudon County, Virginia, David Golden grew up with dreams of becoming a professional adventurer, “like the kind that discovers new continents and whatnot”. When he realized that was probably not going to happen, he didn’t really latch onto another single, specific thing that he wanted to pursue; “since then I’ve pretty much been going with the flow and seeing where life takes me.” It wasn’t until his freshman year at Dickinson that he discovered the world of agriculture, compost, food waste and soil health, which has lead him to his most recent business venture, Table to Farm Compost in Durango, Colorado.

David got involved with the college farm within the few first weeks of his freshman year, as many freshmen do, spending an afternoon getting their hands dirty, volunteering on the farm. The following summer, upon reaching Boiling Springs while hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, he stopped by the farm for a few days to volunteer. After that, he was hooked. He applied for a job the following semester (fall of his sophomore year), was accepted, and worked there throughout the rest of his Dickinson career.

While on the farm, his favorite chores included rotating the livestock and picking up the food waste from the cafeteria and dorms. His favorite thing to harvest were all the brassicas, he says “I think it’s the satisfaction of cutting off a big head of cabbage or broccoli that feels so fulfilling”, which I can relate to, as there really is nothing more fulfilling than filling up a crate with cabbages and having it be so heavy as you can barely carry it. As for spots on the farm, his favorite was the woodlot, and he says he spent a lot of time there while he spent a summer doing an internship on GIS and agroforestry.

After graduating Dickinson in 2014, David spent a year working in Carlisle for the Capital Area RC&D Council as their Natural Resources Specialist. While there, he worked on multiple different grant-funded projects, including a study of the effect of rotational grazing on soil health, and work with NRCS to write a guide for small scale farms about available NRCS conservation funding. From there, he and his girlfriend, Emily Bowie (also Dickinson ‘14), took a three month road trip with a wooden teardrop trailer hooked to the back of their car and set off to explore the country. They stumbled upon Durango, a town in Southwest Colorado with a slightly smaller population than that of Carlisle. He says they “fell in love with it for its open space and hundreds of miles of trails”.

After moving into an apartment in Durango and finding himself throwing his food scraps into the garbage and that troubled him, after spending the last five years sending his food scraps to the college farm. This made him realize there was a niche in his new community that needed to be filled. He filled this niche with his new business, Table to Farm Compost.

He started with the idea of a curbside composting service, he knew he had the composting knowledge and the motivation to get the business started, but lacked the land or machinery to get the actual composting started. He reached out to a land conservancy that he had done some volunteer work for, and they put him in touch with a local landowner who already had the infrastructure and equipment for composting, but had too many things going on to invest the time into utilizing it. The landowner owns a local livestock processing plant and part of their agreement is to eventually start composting some, or possibly all, of the animal byproducts that the plant produces in order to help reduce its waste stream.

Table to Farm Compost is a service that Durango-tangs can sign up for, for a fee of only $15/month. They get a 5 gallon bucket that they can put out with their recycling each week to be collected, getting a clean replacement bucket to start over each week. Customers can either receive their share of finished compost for free, or if they are not in need of compost they can choose to have their compost shared with a local school or community garden.

His business has been well received by the Durango community, David says “Everyone has been incredibly supportive of this endeavor. I am constantly being told how happy people are that the service Table to Farm Compost is providing exists. Even people who live out of town (and therefore aren’t in our service area) or who compost at home have been very supportive of the business. Durango is a pretty small town (just a little smaller in terms of population than Carlisle) and word of mouth is one of our best marketing methods, so having such a supportive community has been a really good thing for the growth of the business.”



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