We started selling compost tea last year, and soon enough the name Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott came up. Dr. Chalker-Scott is a professor at WSU (Washington State University) who has written about compost tea before. She feels the science is far from proven, and has emerged as the most visible counter point to the compost tea hysteria going on in northern California. Yesterday in "The Garden Professors" Dr. Chalker-Scott posted "Compost tea-now a part of landscape design?", as an answer to the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) recently published "Guide to sustainable soils".
Dr. Chalker-Scott say's, "Imagine my frustation, then, when I was sent the national APLD 'Guide to Sustainable Soils.' Most of this document is very good - lots of information and graphics from the USDA and other reliable resources. But scroll down to page 5, under the section 'Soil Additives.' And yes, there it is, compost tea. Acccording to the APLD member who sent me this (not a Washington state member, by the way), the advisory committees that write these guidelines include people who make money from selling compost tea. Surprised, no. Disappointed yes."
Dr. Chalker-Scott makes valid points, just as proponents of compost tea do. At the end of her post Dr. Chalker-Scott says, "Compost tea is marketed, very effectively, through targeting emotional response. We've already got science on our side, so here's my suggestion to those of you who fight the compost tea battle:start a little emotional targeting yourself:" You can read the suggestions for "fighting the battle", but the part that caught my attention was where the she suggests to, "point out that using compost is a natural, environmentally friendly approach to caring for the soil, rather than the big business, energy- and resource-consuming compost tea industrial complex that's exploded in that last decade."
As a seller of compost tea that puts me in the “big business, energy-and resource-consuming compost tea industrial complex”. It seems that beyond the science there is a bit anger that people are making money selling tea. Dr. Chalker-Scott say’s “In this economy, there aren’t many people who can afford to live on principle rather than a paycheck.”
Why is it so important to “fight the compost tea battle”? Wouldn’t it be better that we sell compost tea that my customers like rather than some synthetic fertilizer produced by a real "industrial complex"? I don’t mind talking about, and discussing all aspects of compost tea. What I want to point out is that most tea brewers in my area are small business, not the ” big business, energy-and resource-consuming compost tea industrial complex” described.