“It started with an epiphany and a dream to effect a change,” said Stephen Storch, a biologist, farmer, and researcher, who reminisced about picking up shipments of fresh manure at the local post office when he first started his organic agriculture and landscaping business in 2004. “After about the third time, [postal workers] began to wonder what was really in those packages.”
Mr. Storch now has the Halsey family’s 90-acre Green Thumb Farm at his disposal. And through his company, Natural Science Organics, he is on a mission to “heal the earth” by combating mainstream notions of what constitutes good lawn care. “Most people value instant gratification over sustainability, and as a result, they don’t create a natural, healthy situation for plants,” Mr. Storch said. “Plants don’t reach their full potential when surrounded by artificial nitrogen, fungicides, and pesticides that attack their space.”
“These practices kill the environment, and us,” he said, adding that many local wetlands like Hook Pond and Georgica Pond in East Hampton, for example, are impaired in part because of the use of those artificial chemicals.
The solution, Mr. Storch believes, is as simple as re-educating the public about the inauspicious consequences of the “seemingly innocuous products they use.” In his work, he creates all-natural composts that “complement the earth’s biology,” by, for example, allowing the presence of microbial and fungal processes, as well as earthworms, to endure. He blends manure from cows, goats, donkeys, and horses with mineral water, ground-up eggshells, oyster shells, and seaweeds.
According to Mr. Storch, it’s the way he mixes the elements that makes his compost fertilizer so effective — 35 gallons at a quarter of a cup per acre treats approximately 2,240 acres. In Water Mill he built a 90-gallon copper tank outfitted with hydraulics to swirl the mixture into a vortex, infusing it with peak amounts of oxygen. The mixture is then placed into cow horns, which he buries in soil during fall to “subject it to crystallization and cosmic energy” during winter. In spring, the horns are excavated and their contents are emptied and then stored in a root cellar until they are to be used on a farm or lawn.
Mr. Storch said his compost improves overall plant health, resulting in prolific flowering, increased disease resistance, and stronger root zone development. And, “because the nitrogen isn’t loose, no odor emanates from the compost.”
Natural Science Organics offers three products — a biodynamically-enhanced sea mineral supplement sold by the half pint up to a 275-gallon tote or more, a biodynamic compost sold in 1.5, 2.5, or 6.5-pound bags, and a compound made from cow manure mixed with finely ground egg and oyster shells, all available on his Web site, naturalscienceorganics.com.
When asked what people should do about weeds and insects, Mr. Storch asked, “What’s a weed? You mean a weed like a dandelion, a plant that has several medicinal and culinary uses?” He said using his products attracts butterflies, bees, and other beneficial organisms. “We need ticks and mosquitoes; they are indicators of a harmonious environment and shouldn’t be assaulted.”
His science isn’t new; it’s rooted in permaculture, or agricultural methods that integrate human activity with natural surroundings in order to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems. Mr. Storch is influenced by related works from Wilhelm Reich, Nikola Tesla, and Marcel Vogel, as well as the book “Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet.”
He is doing some shipping of his own these days — he has customers throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and is looking to branch out to Africa.
“We need to think about what we’re doing to the planet,” Mr. Storch said, pointing out that Thomas Vilsack, former lead attorney for Monsanto, makers of Roundup and genetically engineered seed products, is the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. “How are people supposed to get it when our leaders aren’t even looking out for us?”