By Joshua Michael
Intern at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.
Like always, the last few weeks at Bootstrap have been hectic but it never seems to stop the work from being accomplished. I was temporarily relieved of my blogging duties (I guess my last couple of blogs were a little too awesome). But whilst celebrating and padding my own back, I may have hurt myself, because in the same breath, I also made a rookie mistake. The finished compost that I had sent out to UMASS weeks prior for analysis was returned back to us. Turns out I sent out samples for a soil test that UMASS no longer offered. Of course, everyone at the Boot had a good laugh, at my expense. C’est la vie of the intern.
Fortunately, after my slight embarrassment, the last few weeks have gone by quickly. Between overhauling manifests for our drivers, sending out compost & castings, and fitting in warehouse work, there hasn’t been much time to take a break. With that being said, I am starting to notice the difference here at Bootstrap as we are rapidly transitioning from winter to spring. Lately, this has translated into more farm trips, more compost harvested and overall just a faster pace and mentality. Or maybe it’s just more coffee and less hot chocolate.
So what’s up with manifests? Prior to my involvement, management would hand out a roster of alphabetized names – and corresponding addresses – for each driver’s assigned route. The route was not in “pickup” order, however; each driver was in charge of arranging their own route. Thus, to create a more efficient system and cut down on driver workload, I was tasked with putting each route in geographical order. Basically, my job – and quite a big overhaul for Bootstrap, might I add – was to create manifests for drivers in order of pickups so they could hit the road immediately with minimal planning. This has been a 3-week process so far, taking about an hour or two per route, and we should be finishing up the project within the next few weeks. This permanent overhaul may be my lasting legacy the Boot, so I believe some self-fives are in order, for real this time.
“Learning to look past mistakes and keeping your eyes on the prize is not only a valuable personal lesson, but the hallmark of a great company.”
I have also been working in our vermiculture lab at the warehouse. We’ve been collecting a good amount of worm castings and are now in the process of distributing shares of compost & castings to clients! Bootstrap recently started to retail their compost, another first for the company. To ensure our product is truly Bootstrap black gold, we first retrieve the compost (cultivated from our food scraps) from our partner farms in early spring. We then put a great deal of time into sifting that compost, taking out any sticks, stones or other contaminants, and then carefully transfer the sifted soil amendment into retired Bootstrap 5-gallon buckets. After another visual check for any foreign objects, we mix in a batch of our nutrient-rich castings. I’ve completed 48 buckets so far, each weighing about 30 lbs, which Bootstrap sells for $12. It’s a large amount of labor in a small amount of time, but hey, it’s totally worth it if I can help provide a closed-loop, locally harvested soil amendment for our community. You can order a bucket (or two, or three) here!
While I started my last couple of weeks with a silly mistake, I feel as though I’ve made up for it with hard work and humility. I’ve learned over the past few weeks that here at Bootstrap, everyone is understanding, and more importantly, focused on finding solutions rather than dwelling on mistakes. Logistical solutions, for example, and figuring out more efficient ways to plan for our pickups. Or creative solutions, and how we can retail the best possible locally-sourced compost for our clients. Learning to look past mistakes and keeping your eyes on the prize is not only a valuable personal lesson, but the hallmark of a great company. Anyway, stay tuned for my next (and final) blog post, coming out soon. And see more of my work here!