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Got them nowhere-to-dump-your-compost blues? 

Photos by Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Shelby Brimmer collects compost from customers in Vernon and puts it in the back of her van on April 12.

Don’t worry about it. Circle of Life chucks the bucket for you and can even bring back some soil

By Bob Audette
Vermont Country

BROOKLINE — It all started with pigs that needed to be fed.

“When mandatory composting went into law in Vermont in July 2020, I, like many others, began my journey of discovering what compost is, its uses, and the role it plays in our future as a community that supports a greener, healthier earth,” she said.

In the summer of 2020, Shelby Brimmer and her boyfriend had pigs on their Brookline property, and they were feeding them food scraps.

After they harvested the pigs, they still had food scraps.

“So, I had to figure out really quick what to do with the scraps,” said Brimmer, founder of Circle of Life Compost, which collects residential compost and delivers it to the composting facility at Windham Solid Waste on Ferry Road in Brattleboro. “We didn’t have anywhere to put our compost, and I’m not a gardener and not interested in home composting. I figured I could try to meet a need and see if anyone else is having the same issues I was.”

Brimmer learned all about the business on her own, getting much of the information she needed to start her own composting business from the state website page about the mandatory composting law.

“I bought a van, and I bought 10 buckets,” she said. “It’s not really a new business model. It’s no different than trash or recycling, essentially. But it is new, and everyone’s like, ‘What is this? What am I supposed to do?'”

Photos by Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country
Shelby Brimmer, owner of Circle of Life Compost, fills her van with compostables on April 12.

Fifty-five customers later, she’s got daily routes around the county, picking up five-gallon buckets of food scraps and leaving empty ones behind.

You might spot Brimmer in Brookline, Newfane or Dummerston. She can also be seen in Vernon, a couple of spots in Brattleboro and on a route in Bellows Falls.

So far, it’s just her. But sometimes her boyfriend or a sister might help out.

“They all will just jump in,” she said. “And honestly, my sister sometimes just comes to have fun.”

Circle of Life has three subscription levels available — weekly, biweekly and monthly.

“Everything’s based off of how often you would need a five-gallon bucket empty,” she said.

She drives a used service van but has her eye on a pickup truck, to make loading and unloading a little easier.

“And then I can also deliver the soil to my customers if they want to order it from me,” said Brimmer, who grew up in Halifax and graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 2009.

Before settling down in Brookline, she attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she majored in legal studies.

When not running her routes, she’s working on a Master of Science in applied nutrition.

For questions or to subscribe with Circle of Life, call 802-579-3539 or email circleoflifecompost@gmail.com.

Bob Audette has been writing for the Brattleboro Reformer for close to 15 years. When he’s not working or hanging out with his 6-year-old son, he can often be found on one of the many trails leading to the summit of Mount Monadnock, in southern New Hampshire.

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