MiVT: Alpaca Grow

QUECHEE, Vt. (WCAX) A Vermont couple that lost touch for more than 30 years is now profiting off the poop of alpacas. Their made in Vermont freeze-dried fertilizer can be found in 70 stores across the Twin States.

It's feeding time for the 10 alpacas at this farm in Quechee.

"They're native to the Indies Mountains of Peru," said Lisa Briggs, who along with Brian Mattei, run Alpaca Grow.

But it's what happens after they eat that has fueled this breakthrough business. "The 10 that we have here produces quite a bit," Briggs said. She's talking about poop. "This is more recent poop that's been added as you can see where that section of more over time composted."

It's the foundation for Alpaca Grow. An organic freeze-dried fertilizer.

"They have one stomach with three chambers and they pass a lot of minerals and that's what we're harvesting," Mattei said.

"This is just a fine powder. Now, we grind it and bag it," Mattei explained. "Instead of dry with heat, we dry with cold. In doing that, we maintain all the nutrients."

Briggs and Mattei were high school sweethearts. She was a cheerleader. He was on the football team. They lost touch after high school, but found each other 34 years later. "In my senior class yearbook it said that we would own a farm together," Mattei said.

After visiting a friend's alpaca farm in Maine, they were hooked. "This is why we named our farm Living the Dream, because that's the dream that we had," Briggs said.

They opened the Vermont Alpaca Store a couple of years ago, selling clothing from Alpaca fibers. But now they have found a way to take alpaca fertilizer and make it convenient to ship to any and all green thumbs. "We did that with our packaging," Mattei said.

A $12, 5 oz. bag makes five gallons. Compare that to the liquid version which sells for $34 a gallon.

"If you look out front here, we've got vibrant flowers in, and it's from the Alpaca Grow," Mattei said.

Cute creatures making functional fertilizer, and a couple not just growing flowers, but growing a stronger relationship.