Big Lake Organics to Collect Compost, Capture Carbon

Entrepreneurs Todd Rothe and Jamie Tucker have formed a start-up venture, Big Lake Organics, LLC, to provide compost collection services to individual households, businesses, the City of Ashland and other regional customers. 

Big Lake Organics aims to be the region’s foremost organic waste handler by creating products that protect water resources and invigorate the health of the land. “We’re turning organic waste into soil, and we can use that finished compost to regenerate the land, keep our water clean and grow better food,” said Rothe, who has managed the Hulings Rice Food Center at Northland College for the last three years.

The Northland composting program was initiated by students in 1993. Due in part to the pandemic, the program outgrew Northland’s current capacity to serve its campus and community clients.  

Rothe approached Tucker, a fourth-generation shareholder of IDEAL Industries, Inc., a 105-year-old family-owned business, about the idea of a compost business. Tucker saw it as an opportunity to benefit the community, the environment and to provide a model for rural development.  

“This is an opportunity to take the values that Northland has given us and make something of it, make a business out of it, to help our community,” Tucker said.

 Northland has signed on as Big Lake Organics first client. 

"Although the compost will no longer be processed on site, the College remains committed to keeping our organic waste out of the landfill and will continue to foster student involvement and waste diversion," said President Karl Solibakke.