Out the Backdoor: Fish Fertilizer

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August 14, 2010, 3:52 pm
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(NECN) - We visited a Gloucester, MA company that is turning non-edible parts of fish into fertilizer for your garden.

You can tell by the smell you've arrived at Neptune's Harvest. The Gloucester, Massachusetts company is making great fertilizer out of what's usually considered garbage.

Owner Ann Molloy explains that "after the filet is removed, 60-70% of the fish is left over and that's what we use to turn into fertilizer." About 10 boats a day arrive at their dock, and after the fish is unloaded, the boat heads back out for another run.

Back on land, skilled workers fillet the fish. They used to throw out the non-edible parts left over, which are called gurry. "We were actually paying fishermen to bring the gurry back out to sea and dump it in the ocean," said Molloy. "It was very expensive and wasteful."

They knew Native Americans used fish as fertilizer, so they worked out the formula with a U-Mass marine station. Ann says the fertilizer works because fish are full of nutrients and minerals naturally found in the ocean. "All these different things that are in there are exactly what plants and soil need to thrive and stay healthy so it's a perfect source," she said.

The gurry is sent up a conveyor to the grinder. Next, they hydrolize the gurry. The grinding plus the natural enzymes in the fish turns it into a liquid, which is then mixed and put into bottles. The fertilizer looks like chocolate milk when it's done. "You use one ounce per gallon of water and you just spray it right on the plants, soil," said Molloy. "It's a beautiful thing because it works on absolutely everything."

Bottles of fertilizer start at about $10. Ann says since the fish is processed when it's fresh, Neptune's Harvest won't stink up your garden. "Especially once you dilute it, you hardly notice it," she said. "If anything, it might smell like the beach when you're pouring it on and stuff but it's not disgusting by any stretch."

So even though it may not be the best-smelling place to work, Ann is proud of what Neptune's Harvest does. "You can really get behind a job like this," she said. "You feel good about what you're doing everyday. You're helping the environment in a really great way and instead of toxic chemicals being put on farmland across the country, we've got beautiful organic fertilizer on the fields instead."

To find out more about all the Neptune's Harvest call 800-259-GROW or go to the web site www.neptunesharvest.com.

Tags: Gloucester , New England Dream House , fish fertilizer, Neptune's Harvest
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