Paul Lorrain is a busy man. He runs three businesses in the Kennebunkport, ME area under his “Sunset Farm Organics”
business name, each featuring organic plant care. A recently Accredited Organic Landcare Professional, Paul is enthusiastically embracing the concept and use of compost tea
for both his turf operations and greenhouse applications. “I ran a traditional lawncare company for 21 years,” said Paul, “and for the last 15 I thought we were organic because we spread granular organic fertilizer – little did I know!” According to Paul, 95% of his clients transitioned immediately. He noted that 21 of his clients have estates on the ocean and the marshes, with fragile ecosystems that are particularly important to maintain organically.
Paul also runs a popular organic salad mix business, selling to stores, restaurants and farmers markets. He runs the business from April to October, and is getting ready to spray the prepared seed beds with actively aerated compost tea before the start of the growing season. He’s looking forward to another successful year with the greens, in part because of the compost tea applications.
His latest business specializes in spraying compost tea on estates with marshes, ponds, lakes, estuaries and oceanfront land. “I’ve picked up a 100 thousand square feet of turf,” said Paul, “folks are very happy with the results, and I can say I’ve had a 100 percent success rate with the compost tea.” Paul has a manager for both the organic greens
business and the landscaping business, and hopes to have a manager in place soon for the compost tea business.
As to the inherent cost differential between going organic and going conventional, Paul says he likes to tell his customers, “you can buy Folgers, or Green Mountain coffee, it’s your choice. Is it cheaper to pick up a spreader and a bag of cheap fertilizer from Home Depot? Probably. Do you get safe, long lasting, beautiful results? I sure don’t think so. If you go the organic route in your lawncare business, you’ll get your investment back, for sure. People recognize the value of it, and will pay more. It costs more to take care of your children, pets, and your family the right way, but it’s a premium more and more people are ready to pay. There’s definately a buzz about it now.”
His competitors aren’t very happy with him, he says, and as far as he’s concerned, that means something’s working. Paul likens some of the success of his growing businesses to the popularity of the “eat local
and buy organic” campaigns of late. “It’s like I’m riding a horse, I’ve been in business most of my life, and now it’s like I am having to hold the reins back. I am very cautious about bringing in too many clients and not being able to offer them exceptional customer service. We are only going to take on a few clients this year, I don’t need to conquer the world”.