The Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency has selected Payne’s Nurseries and Greenhouses, Inc. to develop and implement a composting program for both the City and County of Santa Fe. Payne’s was chosen from a field of several applicants because of their expertise and their longevity in the community. Payne’s has been producing compost from green waste, horse manure, food waste and cardboard since 2010, including working closely with local Whole Foods stores.

According to Lynn Payne, President and CEO of Payne’s Nurseries, this program gives local residents a simple way to be part of a very important environmental conservation effort. It allows the city and county to recycle as much waste as possible while producing a usable product; the community reduces its carbon footprint because the composting process is local; and, when it becomes available, the compost and mulch produced at the landfill will be available for sale to residents to use in gardening and landscaping. Compost and mulch improve soils by helping them to hold moisture, reduce compaction as well as providing a healthy environment for soil microbes.


An important component in combining the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency’s efforts with Payne’s composting expertise is the increased opportunity to minimize the quantity of material now going into the Caja del Rio Landfill.

The composting operation will be directed by Sam McCarthy, manager of Payne’s Organic Soil Yard (POSY), a well-known local expert in soil amendments, mulch and compost, and Joel Medrano who has been with Payne’s for four years. Both are certified compost operators and will be largely responsible for the success of this program.


Green waste and horse manure from Santa Fe City and County residents will continue to be collected at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT), ground into smaller pieces and then taken to the Caja del Rio landfill where it will be incorporated into the composting process. The composting process takes 12 to14 months and includes mixing materials, keeping proper moisture and temperature levels and turning the materials at specific intervals as they decompose in order to maintain sufficient oxygen in the compost. This is an aerobic (with oxygen) process that does not produce greenhouse gasses and minimizes possible odors.

In addition to managing the composting process, Payne’s is responsible for developing a marketing program to make premium quality soil conditioners available to the general public, landscaping companies and large wholesale customers.

As they become available, compost and mulch products will be available for sale to the public in bulk form at Payne’s Organic Soil Yard at 6037 Agua Fria and in bags at Payne’s retail stores.


 Sam McCarthy, Manager, Payne’s Organic Soil Yard

Before joining Payne’s Nurseries in 2009, Sam McCarthy operated his own business, Santa Fe Premium Compost, for 10 years. The company collected a variety of organic wastes, including food wastes from various sources in Santa Fe, to produce high quality compost.

McCarthy has a B.S. in agriculture from the University of California Davis where he worked for the Student Experimental Farm producing compost from cafeteria wastes. He also has a certificate in ecological horticulture from the University of California Santa Cruz where farm scale composting is taught as a vital part of the organic farming and gardening curriculum.

As manager of Payne’s Organic Soil Yard (POSY) McCarthy has significantly increased production and sales of mulch, compost, bark and other bulk landscaping materials.

In addition to his professional work, McCarthy consistently seeks opportunities to teach composting to the public. Since he joined Payne’s, Sam has been giving regular presentations at Payne’s Nurseries free workshops. As a sideline, for the past 15 years he has had a booth at the Santa Fe Farmers Market where he teaches customers about using mulch and compost and sells composting worms.

For more information contact Lynn Payne, 505.988.9626

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