Buckeye fans: ‘Stadium Scarlet’ compost has Ohio State roots and will grow them


Ohio State Extension



DELAWARE — Fans of Ohio State’s football team can show their pride with compost.

A farm in Delaware, Ohio, located about 25 miles north of the university’s Columbus campus, makes and sells compost called Stadium Scarlet.

The stuff has roots in Ohio Stadium, home of the Buckeyes. It’s made from some of the compostable materials — food scraps and so on — produced and discarded in the Horseshoe at home games.

Ohio State’s colors are scarlet and gray. The compost is really a rich dark brown and helps plants in gardens grow green.

“We get a lot of hot dogs — a lot of hot dogs,” said Tom Price, owner of family-run Price Farms Organics, a 22-acre Ohio Environmental Protection Agency-permitted Class II composting facility. Class II facilities by law can take in yard waste, farm waste, manure and food scraps.

Comes from Ohio Stadium

On Ohio State football game days, workers collect compostable materials in the stadium’s kitchens and suites. Then they send them to Price Farms for composting. The materials include not just hot dogs but paper, popcorn and half-eaten corned beef sandwiches, for example.

The suites include the press box, several dozen corporate suites and the University Suite, where Ohio State President Michael Drake, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, members of the university’s board of trustees and others, including Price himself, may watch the games.

Price and his grandson Austin Bright, who works for the company too, stand at the customer loading area. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES Marketing and Communications.)

Price, like his compost, got his start on the campus. He’s an alumnus of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. He’s a member of the college’s advisory council. And he’s a supporter of the stadium’s highly successful Zero Waste program, to which he lends his expertise. Composting the suite and kitchen materials is just one part of that program.

“Tom has been an excellent partner for Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium,” said Ohio State’s sustainability coordinator, Tony Gillund. “He treats everyone in the program with respect and is always eager to collaborate with students, teach them about his operations, and learn about their lives and majors.”

Largest ‘zero waste’ stadium in U.S., maybe the world

Compostables and recyclables get collected elsewhere in the stadium, too. Marked bins are in all the big public areas. But the volume is such that they’re sent to a larger facility, one at the Southeastern Correctional Complex in Lancaster, Ohio. There, inmates in a job-training program do the sorting, composting and recycling. Price has helped them as well.

Under the Zero Waste program, Ohio Stadium last year diverted some 95.2 percent of its game-day trash from landfills. The single-game high was 98.6 percent, set at the Indiana game, according to Ohio State’s website on the program.

Price holds a handful of Stadium Scarlet compost, whose name belies its color but not origin. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES Marketing and Communications.)

In fact, Ohio Stadium ranks as the largest stadium in the U.S. — and probably the world — to achieve “zero waste” status, Gillund said. That means it recycles or composts at least 90 percent of its game-day waste, according to guidelines of the Game Day Challenge, a competition for college football stadiums sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State plays its final home game of the year on Saturday, Nov. 21, against Michigan State. On the following Monday morning, a box truck will turn into Price Farms’ drive. Inside the truck will be up to 30, 30-gallon trash bins, the haul from the kitchens and suites. In all, it could total some 4,000 pounds.

Takes up to 2 years to cook

The stuff is sorted, cleared of any “incidentals,” such as stray plastic water bottles, and raked. It’s blended with coffee grounds, wood chips and horse manure. Then it’s bulldozed into a pile that’s shaped like a cone and stands as tall as a house.

“It’ll sit there for generally six to nine months, and then we’ll turn it and move it and restart the composting process,” Price said.

The pile is Stadium Scarlet after a total of one to two years.

Made on Price family’s farm

Price Farms Organics is part of the family’s larger, 286-acre farm, which also has crops, woods and livestock. Customers at the composting side find an office at the entrance, a half dozen acres of concrete pad, yellow front-end loaders, and drive-up stalls full of Stadium Scarlet along with the company’s other composts. One of them is Zoo Brew, which is made from manure and food scraps from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Stadium Scarlet costs $40 a yard loaded into a pickup bed or trailer or $2 for a 5-gallon bucket full. You can bring your own bucket or buy one there for $2 more. It’s available only in bulk and at the farm.

“Our practices embrace clean air and clean water,” says Price of his family farm. “We all want clean air and clean water.” (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES Marketing and Communications.)

Price said Stadium Scarlet’s buyers are half landscapers, half homeowners, mostly Buckeye fans. And he added that football season makes a pretty good time to use it.

“We recommend two years in a row of fall application of 1 to 2 inches on a bed,” he said. “Just take it and spread it on top. Don’t try to do it all at once because that’s too big of a mat.

“By next year, because of the rain, the nutrients will have started down through the soil profile.”

And that’s good.

Gives bang for the buck and a ‘wow’

“There’s a big ‘wow’ factor after using compost,” Price said. “People will talk about it because their elephant ears [a flower called colocasia] used to come up to their waist, and now they’re up over their head.

“People are understanding that compost is the most economical way to raise the organic matter level in their soil. The repeat business is phenomenal.”

Price Farms is at 4838 Warrensburg Road in Delaware. Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But in late fall and winter, starting Nov. 21, Saturday hours are shortened to 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Call the company at 740-369-1000 or visit its website, pricefarms.org, to learn more.

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Ohio State Extension

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