Ground level

Full Circle Compost

Craig Witt measures the levels of nutrients in a compost windrow.

Craig Witt measures the levels of nutrients in a compost windrow.


For more information about Full Circle Compost’s projects, visit Cody Witt’s blog at

For father-and-son team Craig and Cody Witt, owners of Full Circle Compost, much of the green movement starts with the soil.

“We call it the ‘wecycle,” says Cody. “Using the right soil, in the right ecosystem, allows for the best plants to grow. Then you don’t have to travel far to get produce grown locally, and when you recompost it, you’re already using soil that works.”

Full Circle Compost has been in business for more than 15 years, and was founded as a way to handle the abundance of manure at the Milky Way Dairy Farm in Minden. Now it’s stationed at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility with a 30-acre spread, and a retail spot along Highway 395.

Craig, whom his son Cody refers to as “a soil guru,” uses a mix of methods to create effective compost.

“He worked with Amish Mennonites, who showed him a way to compose and mix the compost,” Cody says. German windrow turners stir and hydrate the soil. Craig also encourages the growth of microbes which help to break down the materials. The process is aerobic, which means that it requires an abundance of air.

The result is humus, which the Full Circle Compost website refers to as “stable organic matter that serves as the nutrient bank account and supplier in soil.” Craig’s process allows humus to be created in as little as 10 weeks.

Depending on the compost being created—Full Circle Compost provides soil for personal gardeners, but also large scale projects like erosion control for freeways—Craig will create a special blend using nutrients such as kelp or limestone. Large piles of minerals sit on the composting site. Cody refers to it as “the pantry.”

“It’s a chemistry-based process,” he says. “Because of the climate, you have to feed plants correctly. It’s why our motto is ‘feed your food.’ Like humans, plants like to be satisfied.”

He uses a lot of metaphors to explain the need for properly balanced soil.

“The land is like a baby,” he says. “You don’t give a baby steak. It can’t break it down. You give it milk, which it can properly digest.”

Full Circle composts biomass, LEED building materials and food waste. It’s a certified Nevada Organic organization, but Craig takes the safety a step further to keep the humus organic and free of pathogens. While Environmental Protection Standards require compost to heat up to 130 degrees for five days, Craig keeps his in the 130 to 160 range for four weeks.

Recently, Full Circle Compost fertilized the University of Nevada, Reno’s quad. Within a matter of 10 days, the brown land sprouted up green.

“When you figure out what plants need, it’s just a matter of creating a soil that gives them the right nutrients,” Cody says.

Craig and Cody hope that more gardeners will become aware of how important soil is to creating a suitable ecology for their plants.

“It’s more than just tossing things in a compost bin and expecting great soil to happen,” says Craig. “It’s hard to grow things here, but fixing the soil fixes the land.”