Vivian Companion used to garden for fun. But three years after discovering her green thumb, she wanted to try to feed her family organically without depending on the grocery store. This summer she tripled the size of her garden, spent $300 on compost and crossed her fingers she would succeed.
"The tops were looking weird and I just thought it was due to the heat," Companion said.
Turns out her tomato plants were growing in contaminated compost she purchased from the Chittenden Solid Waste District. And she's not alone.
"My home garden had 24 tomato plants that just aren't doing anything. They're stunted and demented and they're not growing," Tom Moreau said.
Moreau is CSWD's general manager, but he's also a gardener and understands firsthand how frustrating this problem is.
"We're saddened about the gardeners who bought our product and had poor performance. That's not what we're here for," Moreau said.
CSWD has figured out that horse manure and bedding, as well as grass clippings laced with herbicides are the sources of the contamination. So even though composting continues at the plant, none of it is for sale.
But customers who purchased their compost from the solid waste district before June 27 may now be eligible for compensation. CSWD estimates half of its compost has been contaminated. More than 450 customers have filed complaints so far. The solid waste district voted Wednesday to shell out up to $1 million to pay people back their purchase price, as well as make restitutions for lost crops. CWSD also wants to buy back any unused compost that was bought before July 13.
"There's no doubt in our minds that there's been damage done," Moreau said.
To get the refund customers must have their receipt and prove their plants were damaged. Once they file a complaint, field technicians will visit their gardens to check that the contaminated compost is the culprit. In the meantime, the Vt. Health Department says the veggies are safe to eat. But for organic gardeners like Companion--she's not taking any chances on the chemicals.
"It crushes me because it is such a waste," she said.
So as she waits for her refund she watches her food rot, not willing to donate anything she wouldn't eat herself.
Applications for refunds must be made by the end of September. If customers are not satisfied with their compensation package they can appeal it.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
It's graduation day for the class of 20-13 at Castleton State College. And just for the occasion, the college invited back an alumnus with a strong connection to the school.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>