Surfrider and San Diego Wastewater Birthed Native Soil

If you follow us on Instagram (and you should), you may have noticed our good friend and mentor @BrianSnow  is featuring our CEO and Founder, Jared Criscuolo, in his 10 x 10 Founders series. San Diego wastewater is the reason we’re here.

How it All Began

You may not know the story behind Upcycle and Company. Why it came to be. Well, that’s unless you’ve spent more than five minutes together with Jared or myself. If the elevator is going more than 6 floors, you’re going to hear about the genesis of the company.

See, Jared isn’t from San Diego while I am. Local San Diegans know to stay out of the surf for a few days after any rainstorm. A normal rainstorm will produce some significant runoff from the city. That, unto itself, is a shame since we’re in such an arid climate, but we’ll visit that topic later. Now, a heavy regional rainstorm will produce not only runoff from San Diego but from our neighbor to the south, Tijuana.

Who Puts the Waste in San Diego Wastewater?

Tijuana’s wastewater treatment plant is notoriously awful. It is old, and it is seriously overworked. The Tijuana River Valley has been a regional issue for at least the last 30 years. More than likely longer, but that’s about as far back as I can remember. Now we love our brethren to the south, but this is one gift San Diego could probably do without. They’re doing a good deal too, but that’s a long time off.

wastewater photo
Photo by Sustainable sanitation

So, after this rainstorm, Jared, not being a local, paddled out. He thought it was amazing to have the surf to himself. Not that he is greedy, but anyone who surfs knows it is always nice to be able to drop in on any wave you wish. That’s a luxury. Or so he thought.

Long story short, Jared got sick. Of course he did. He paddled out after a storm. This was the birth of Jared’s infatuation with wastewater issues and local ocean sustainability.

The Solution

As Jared explained in his speech at #GetStartedSD, there are really only two ways to address San Diego wastewater issues. The first, fee-based litigation. It can be effective. Just ask Erin Brockovich, but it can also be expensive. The expensive fee, and the need to hang together as a class are the angst points of the story. The second, good old-fashioned capitalism.

Jared’s work with Surfrider lead him to start a consulting firm, Rising Tide Partners, which focused on regional wastewater issues. Water is a precious resource in San Diego, and because of that, the wastewater agencies and treatment facilities are integral to the region’s sustainability.

Satisfied with promoting the laudable work the local wastewater treatment facilities were doing, Jared knew he wanted to do more. He had to do more.

The New Vision

Native Soil was the soilutionJared’s vision was to push waste further. Inspired by the local food movement, Jared knew he was onto something. How do we ensure food is produced not only locally, but sustainably. Native Soil was the answer to the San Diego wastewater problem.

Through his work with one of the local wastewater agencies, Jared discovered biosolids. The leftover waste product when water is treated from waste to potable and released back into the local reservoir system. These come in a few classes, B, A, and Grade A, Exceptional Quality. It is this latter product that was the missing component to the Native Soil vision.

Native Soil is a blend of spent beer grains from San Diego’s booming craft brew industry, algae cell walls left over from carbon recapture and biofuel production, and Grade AEQ biosolids.

Native Soil then is a product that just makes sense. Food should be grown locally, not shipped halfway around the world. We can grow our own food, in our own backyards using fertilizer sustainably sourced in that same backyard.

What Native Soil Is

Native Soil is a local, sustainably sourced fertilizer using nothing but three upcycled waste products from right here in Southern California. Further, it is at least, if not more, effective than Certified Organic fertilizers at 25% less cost per pound to the consumer. In short, you get sustainable local plants for less money. That what is called a win-win in good old-fashioned capitalism.

If you’re ready to be friendlier to our future and truly find your soil mate, give us a go. We’re proud to be in several local nurseries here in Southern California. Native Soil is also available on via Prime for free shipping.

If you’re not quite ready, sign up for our email list on the left hand column of this page, or join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to receive exclusive discounts, offers, and giveaways just for our fans.

Let us know what you think about Native Soil. We’re proud of what we’ve produced and are always ecstatic to discuss it. Just remember that if you ever find yourself in an elevator with an Upcycle member. We’re going to tell you about how we #PutWastetoWork


Wastewater Facts

Native Soil by Upcycle is fairly novel in the fertilizer space since it uses nothing but upcycled waste materials to create the potent blend of nutrients. One of the largest waste sources comes from wastewater treatment facilities. Every drop of water that goes down the drain ends up at one of these facilities. The general public doesn’t have a clear picture of what takes place at wastewater facilities. Here are some wastewater facts to stoke the conversation.

Interesting Wastewater Facts

  • In San Diego, a single wastewater facility on Point Loma processes more than 175 million gallons of wastewater each and every day.
  • California has more than 900 wastewater facilities operating 7 days a week.
  • Californians produce 4 Billion gallons of wastewater every day.
  • 20% of the planet’s wastewater is treated properly at present. As low as 8% in the poorest nations.
  • American’s produce 34 billion gallons of wastewater daily.

Wastewater facts allow Upcycle to tackle the wastewater issueThe world produces a tremendous amount of wastewater. The numbers are really quite staggering. Most of this wastewater is treated, separated from solids and then released back into the local watershed.

Upcycle believes in putting waste to work. We take Grade A (Exceptional Quality) biosolids that would otherwise end up in landfills out of state as the basis of the Native Soil fertilizer blend. At Upcycle, we believe in knowing the proper wastewater facts. We know that many people remain uninformed when it comes to wastewater treatment.

Help us put waste to work. Find your soil mate.

Grow A 6 Foot Tomato Plant With A Garden Infrastructure Plan

While Upcycle and Company creates sustainably sourced fertilizer from upcycled waste that is dynamite, we know it isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. One of the most popular vegetables to grow in any backyard or patio garden is the humble, yet versatile, tomato. With its lycopene density, not only is it one of the easiest plants to start with, it is also extremely healthy. As a vining plant, it needs more direction than a toddler, so garden infrastructure is an important part of garden planning.

Garden Infrastructure

The guys over at Grow It Now Garden Products have some of the easiest to implement garden infrastructure that we have seen. This is obviously a step or two above building your own raised garden bed in an hour. While we support the DIY ethic, we also understand it isn’t for everyone.

If growing is really your ultimate goal outcome, you might consider ordering a prefabricated kit. Watch the video below to learn how to grow a six foot tomato plant using the right technique. Native Soil Fertilizer is essentially the afterburner in this engine. While we are focused primarily on tomatoes here, a more comprehensive infrastructure plan might be the next step.

How to Get Started

Hello this is Russel Smith with Grow it Now Garden Products. I am here with you today in my backyard garden to talk about how to grow a six foot tall tomato plant. In one of my previous episodes I planted this tomato plant. What I did was I buried it deep. I dug a hole about two feet deep. I buried my tomato plant in there so that only about six inches was sticking up out of the ground. And then I put an eleven inch miniature greenhouse over that. Staked it down. And then I put the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that.

Add a Little Sun

What those do is they add heat to the plant so it stimulates plant growth. And since I’ve done that video and shared it with the gardening community I have had a lot of questions come back and the questions are what do I do with the plant when it grows out of the eleven inch miniature greenhouse? Do I take both of them off? And the answer to that is no. Only take the eleven inch miniature greenhouse off and then leave the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over top of it, until it grows out of the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse.

In this case, that was as far as I went. On some of my other tomato plants I actually went to a thirty-six inch miniature greenhouse and added even more growth and plant stimulation to the plant. In that case you are going to have to make sure you come in and shake the plant in order to get the pollination. So with this one, that was the secret sauce.

mini greenhouses are an integral part of any garden infrastructure plan that yields enormous results
Photo by raludwick

I dug the hole, buried it deep so that only six inches were sticking out of the ground, put my eleven inch miniature greenhouse over it and then the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that. Since that video I have also had the question well what do you do for fertilizer? So here’s my secret to fertilizing. Since I’m getting in the ground early, I’m planting my tomatoes early and I’m trying to push the season with the miniature greenhouses.

I like to prepare my garden in the fall for spring planting. So what I’ll do every fall is I put four to six inches of cow manure overtop of the garden and then I till it in really deep. So that is one of the things that I use to fertilize.

#NOrganic Fertilizer

[Editor’s Note] This next section Russel discusses the fertilizer blends he used to achieve this result. Native Soil is an off the shelf fertilizer that meets these criteria. We firmly believe that our sustainably sourced blend is better than “certified organic.”  Our future friendly fertilizer blend is as important as any physical garden infrastructure.

The other thing I use to fertilize is I’ll use a dilute solution of fertilizer. Off the shelf fertilizer. So that is a nonorganic way, and then I mix it with other organic fertilizers. So I experiment both ways. If you are a new gardener I would recommend starting out with an off the shelf all-purpose fertilizer and then weaning yourself off of that to a more organic fertilizer. So on this six foot tall tomato plant you can see I have a lot of tomatoes growing. I probably have fifty or so tomatoes on this plant, just going like crazy. And the other thing is that you can see the stems on these up high. Look how thick that stem is.

It is about one inch thick. Down low there is only one stem coming out of the ground and that is feeding off of a massive root base in order to support this whole tomato plant. So tip and trick, burry it deep, put the eleven inch miniature greenhouse overtop of it, eighteen inch overtop of that..

As found on Youtube

Add Native Soil to the Mix

Garden Planner – Your Seasonal Garden

One aspect of living and working in San Diego is the ability to grow basically anything year round. We don’t really have “garden seasons” like the pour souls in other parts of the country. Our Mediterranean climate means not having to worry about little worries like frost, snow, tundra… you get the point. Even so, if you want a great garden, you need to be a master garden planner.

Just because you can grow anything at anytime doesn’t automatically mean that you should. Planning a garden is half the battle, so knowing what you want to grow and when can be a somewhat daunting task.

Garden Planner to the Rescue

We came across a great app to help out in that arena. It’s called Garden Time Planner and it will walk you through the process of growing whatever you want and give you a pretty accurate estimate of when what you’re growing will be mature.

It is region specific, so even if you’re not in California and are blessed by a mild climate, you can really dial your garden in. Terrible weather is not an excuse not to grow.

The app is made by the Burpee company, so you know it is going to be made specifically for gardeners. Burpee has had gardeners backs from all the way back in the late 19th century. They’re synonymous with home gardens.

As you can see, the app is easy to use and really provides the specific data to ensure that your grow is going to be a hit. Aren’t smartphones wonderful?

Alternatives to Garden Planner

If smart phones and apps aren’t your style there’s nothing wrong with going analog. A simple day planner will allow you to chart your garden progress and growing timelines. There are several day planners and journals that will help you to track your growing season.

I particularly like the vegetable gardeners handbook. Its light and simple, straight forward and to the point with tons of practical advice.


Put Waste to Work – What Does that Really Mean?

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

What do we mean when we say “put waste to work?” Making waste work for all of us is at the core of our operating philosophy at Upcycle & Co. Let’s face it, human beings create a lot of waste. Be that food waste, regular garbage, yard waste or, well, waste waste, we create a tremendous amount. Human beings, world-wide, create upwards of 5 billion tons of refuse annually. 5 BILLION! And that all ends up in landfills. That’s just the normal, every day, throw it in the garbage can kind of waste.

While recycling trends have been increasing steadily since the 1980s, (recycle, reduce, reuse and close the loop anyone?) traditional recycling is just one tiny aspect of what reducing humanity’s ecological input is all about.

Going With the Flow

we put waste to work starting right in your kitchen sink
Photo by Sustainable sanitation

At Upcycle & Co we’ve decided to start with our focus on the waste-waste problem first. We’re working with the portions of human consumption that go discarded and have been ending up in landfills, adding to an already unsustainable problem. Did you know in our home town of San Diego, one waste water facility alone treats approximately 175 million gallons of waste water every single day? That’s one plant for just one portion of the city. And while the water is purified and returned to local waterways, the remaining biosolid matter is discarded as waste. That wasted material is then trucked across the state and dumped into landfills. From both an ecological standpoint and an efficiency standpoint, we have a problem with that.

Imagine a world where we could capture that wasted energy, eliminate the trucking emissions, and do something phenomenally productive with it right here in our own community. Well, that’s exactly what we did.

Finding Your Soilmate

In creating Native Soil, Upcycle & Co has created a patent-pending process to create our natural organic fertilizer that has better than 25% more nutrients than run of the mill organic fertilizer at half the price. That means juicier fruit, larger vegetables, and more nutrient dense food in general

That’s how we are putting waste to work. We keep costs low and consistent for our customers through our local business model. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good business.

We’ve been toiling (and soiling) behind the scenes to make Native Soil the best bang for your buck, from a nutrient standpoint, and an environmental standpoint. At Upcycle & Co, we don’t believe in wasting waste for wasting’s sake. We put waste to work, in your garden, on our farms and for our community.

We hope you’ll join us in our nutrient revolution. Join our mailing list below, or like us on Facebook to learn more about what we mean when we put waste to work.

[rainmaker_form id=”530″]