Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Q&A with Cameron Bonsey, Director of Marketing for Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc,

Cameron Bonsey, Director of Marketing
Known for its world class, organically-approved compost blends, Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc was founded in 1996 by Carlos & Jean Quijano. Their focus of distribution is to local independent retailers, providing great customer service and amazing product quality.

What is the state of the organic gardening industry? 
The organic gardening industry is doing extremely well because of education from organizations like NOFA, access to information and the desire for people to understand where products are sourced and how they are made. 

Where do you see the greatest growth and what’s driving it?  
We see the biggest growth with the home gardener because that is our focus. People want to grow their own food with organically approved products. They are truly beginning to understand the impact on their bodies and it is young families with children where we see tremendous growth. 

Jeff checking temperature of compost windrows
What are some of the most common challenges professionals face in caring for the land organically and what approach do you take to solving them?  
Educating the customer in regard to organic options, how they work and the long term impact to their landscape. We do a lot of educational videos to teach these practices and how our products impact soil biology and the ultimately the plants. They work very effectively 

The garden centers we work with will often hire young, inexperienced staff and our product training classes backed up with the video training really helps them to explain our products and benefits to the consumer. 

They also use the videos on all their social media platforms so the customer often comes to them knowing exactly what they want and need. 
Once we explain the benefits of the calcium and chitin that comes from the lobster shells we compost, they never forget it! 

What advice do you have for conventional land care professionals who are considering transitioning to organic?  
Get educated! Learn about soil biology and how the products you use impact that biology .I know that our product development staff relies on books like “True Living Organics” and “Teaming with Microbes” as well as many other sources. From there they do the testing in their own back yards and get to know exactly how and why our compost blends and fertilizers work. 

Lobster shells, a nice addition to compost materials
Your products are made with local ingredients  - from both land and sea – which would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Do you consider your business to be part of the solution to food waste?  
We are pleased to be part of the food waste solution, but we are only a small part. We take lobster shells from processing plants that would otherwise go to a landfill. We have never charged a tipping fee and we also help to offset the transportation costs.  

Our success in focusing solely on composting and distribution to local retailers has allowed other companies to realize they can compost food waste and make a living selling the finish compost. That is where we have had the biggest impact. 

Carlos and Jean Quijano, the happy founders of C.O.M!
Are your products appropriate for any geographic location and application (turf vs. gardens vs. trees/shrubs/woodlands)? 
We have products for all of these applications that vary in the marine and land-based residuals which we use to benefit turf, gardens, trees and shrubs. This is where our videos become very useful! 
Right now we are broadening our turf care line with marine-based liquid fertilizers. We are in the process of testing those so any lawn care professionals who would like to help with the testing should give us a call!