How It Works
Veteran Compost is about two things:
- Employing veterans and their family members
- Turning food scraps into high-quality compost
Our goal is to fuel our growth with people and material that others pass over.
Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. That means that a combat vet has a harder time getting a job than the average person.
Two thirds of the material that gets thrown away in the United States every year is compostable.
So, there’s plenty of people and material to fuel our growth.
Our First Farm
We have a 30-acre farm in Aberdeen, MD. We’re right on the edge of suburban sprawl, but still work the land and compost.
The farmhouse dates to the 1870s and is surrounded by an assortment of outbuildings. The crown jewel is our vermicomposting operation in our barn. It is the only commercial worm composting operation in Maryland. More than a million worms are working around the clock to create great compost.
The fields around the buildings are home to our aerated compost piles. Nothing beats the sight of the steam rising off the piles at dawn. It’s a beautiful thing.
In 1916, at the age of 14, Martin Vazquez left his parents and 17 siblings in Cuba and came to the US. He quickly became a U.S. citizen, and served in the US Army during WWII. After the war, he married Sarah Lee Jamison and together they started Arlington Insulation. The Vazquez’s bought land with every dime they could save, and their biggest purchase was the 200+ acres of Whitehall Farm in 1960-61. They called Whitehall their home until their deaths. The Vazquez’ daughter Nadine, her husband Jeff, and their son Jeremy hope to honor Martin and Lee by preserving Whitehall as open space within an increasingly crowded Fairfax County.
Justen Garrity founded Veteran Compost in 2010. However, the path to that point began much earlier.
Growing up in Pennsylvania and Maryland, Justen spent his time outdoors camping, hiking, and biking. It was through Scouting that Justen learned to appreciate nature and the need for conservation.
Justen received an ROTC scholarship to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA. In 2004, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management of Information Systems and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.
Justen spent the next five years on Active Duty as a Combat Engineer Officer. He served in South Korea as a platoon leader, in Missouri as a company executive officer, and in Iraq as an Assured Mobility Officer. He received numerous awards and badges during his time in the Army including: Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three times), Army Achievement Medal, Sapper tab, and parachutist badge.
Following a 15-month deployment in Iraq, Justen decided to transition to the National Guard so that he could be closer to his family. Returning home to the worst job market in decades, he quickly found himself unemployed. Justen was forced to create his own destiny. And so, Veteran Compost was born. A business that is as fulfilling as the missions he had in the Army.