WARREN Plan to further sale of fertilizer

A garden grown in Nature's Blend will yield food for local shelters and churches.
WARREN -- Warren's Water Pollution Control Center is looking to sell or swap unused land to further the sale of its organic fertilizer and potting soil.
City council is considering legislation to sell or exchange 2.8 and 3.2 acres next to the water pollution control center and its biosolids facility on South Main Street, where Nature's Blend is produced.
The organic fertilizer, made from sanitary sewer sludge, has been manufactured since October 1997 at the biosolids plant, using a heat pasteurization process.
Larry Stadwick, the center's acting director, said the sale of Nature's Blend isn't as profitable as it could be because the center is closed weekends and after 3:30 p.m. weekdays.
Landowner's offer: A Niles man who owns property near the center has expressed interest in the land, saying he's willing to use some of his land and the unused city land to dry, store and sell the material, making it available to farmers and others who need it after hours.
Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, said "it's a plus for [Nature's Blend] to be made available for people who need it on the weekends."
An added benefit, he said, is that the city will not have a financial obligation and won't have to worry about additional staffing.
The city still will have to advertise for bids, Stadwick said, and it will wait to see if other property owners submit better bids with a more advantageous plan for the land use.
The city produces about 40 tons of the material a day, about 200 tons per year. The fertilizer and potting soil are sold at Giant Eagle stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and at more than 230 smaller stores in the tri-state area.
The Rev. Irvin Williams is the salesman for Nature's Blend and promotes it in part by offering free samples to local vendors.
This generates a lot of interest in the products, Stadwick said, admitting, "It's not the easiest thing to sell" because it's made from sanitary sewer sludge.
Denies rumors: He also said rumors fly that the facility is losing money, resulting in an increase in residential water rates.
That's not true, Stadwick said, explaining that the center operates on a smaller budget than in past years, has saved the city money and generates revenue.
The center is preparing to plant a garden on its property for the third year.
Corn, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and other items will be grown in Nature's Blend and donated to shelters, churches and other organizations that can use them.
The gardening project is a way for the center to give back to the community, Stadwick said.
Any organization needing food or willing to help with the garden should call Mike Welke at (330) 841-2591, Ext. 331.

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