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Gwynne Ann Unruh is a former award winning reporter at the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.

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Among the countless famous quotes of Mark Twain was this nugget: “During the gold rush, it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.” Get ready for “green gold” to have the same effect. New Mexico has many “halo” businesses affected by the recent legalization of cannabis—companies that will see a significant increase in demand for what they produce, even though it is not from the sales of consumable cannabis. A local compost and soil company, Soilutions, is scaling up its soil menu. And as it prepares to serve both the Land of Enchantment’s cannabis companies and connoisseurs, business is booming. 

Soilutions has been providing premium compost and living soil to New Mexico’s home gardeners, plant nurseries, organic farms and landscape contractors for 25 years. In preparation for legalization, the company has added cannabis cultivators to their client list. 

The Dewey Family

Native New Mexican couple Justin and Dawn Dewey bought Soilutions in January 2021, when its founders retired. Since then, the Deweys’ team has been gearing up to service the soon-to-be booming recreational cannabis industry by implementing initiatives to serve the cannabis market—including the launch of a residential delivery service and online store in late February.

The potential of an adult-use recreational cannabis bill passing was one of their key considerations when the Deweys purchased the business. They knew that legalization could create a big opportunity for a “halo” company like Soilutions. 

“We love Soilutions’ mission of sustainability and replenishing our state’s soils, and we knew there was a lot of growth opportunity for the company within its core customer base. But the potential for New Mexico to pass recreational cannabis amplified our interest. We felt pretty confident the bill would finally pass this year, and the prospect of that was really the final impetus for us to take the leap to pursue our dream,” says co-owner Justin Dewey. 

Soilutions is developing new soil blend recipes designed specifically for cannabis with a growing menu of cannabis-catered soil amendments like worm castings, kelp meal, fish bone meal and alfalfa meal. Dawn Dewey said one of those recipes, which they’ve internally dubbed their “super soil,” rivals the performance of national cannabis soil brand Fox Farm’s “Ocean Forest” in side-by-side grow tests.

Soilutions also anticipates investing around $35,000 in a new commercial bagging machine, so they can provide bags of their cannabis specialty soils to local nurseries and garden stores. This is another group of “halo” businesses who are busy preparing for the significant cannabis home grower demand on the horizon.

Soilutions has been the best-kept secret of many of New Mexico’s home growers for years, and the company is now attracting some high profile, well-known local medical dispensaries for clients as well. Dawn Dewey said last month Soilutions provided 650 yards of their living soil for Everest Apothecary’s outdoor grow in the North Valley. 

“Potential legalization wasn’t our sole motivation, but it was really a key determining factor, because we knew it has the potential to create terrific growth opportunities for Soilutions being kind of the only premium soil company in the state. We just knew that we could serve the market for both large commercial growers and small residential home growers who just need a bag of soil because they want to grow at home, which they are now allowed to do,” Dawn Dewey explained. 

Soilutions sells compost, soil and lots of mulch, which they also manufacture. They are expanding their line to offer specialty amendments that are geared toward cannabis but also to specialty gardeners. The amendments aid in moisture retention and in building a healthy living soil.

“We are excited to show more of our state’s cultivators and growers that they can source high-performing living soil locally, without the freight costs of bringing it in from Colorado or California,” says Ben Dickerson, the company’s business development manager and resident cannabis soil expert.

A key differentiator for Soilutions is the advantage of being local, which gives them the ability to offer a level of service that the out-of-state companies can’t, and they believe it will give their clients an edge. For Everest’s recent outdoor grow, for example, the company conducted an onsite assessment and lab analyses of the native soil. They then prepared a custom soil blend designed to optimize productivity for that specific situation.

Soilutions has already added two new full-time employees to their team to prepare for the demand they anticipate from the cannabis industry, one of whom has six-plus years experience as a commercial grow-tech for some of New Mexico’s biggest dispensaries. 

Founded in 1996 Soilutions is New Mexico’s largest private compost, soil and mulch company. “We specialize in premium-crafted composts and soil blends—created for optimal performance with New Mexico native soils and are rich in nutrients, water retention properties with billions of living microbes in each handful,” Dawn Dewey said.  

As of 2021 Soilutions has diverted more than 42 million pounds of waste away from the landfill and back into the state’s soils. The company is New Mexico’s leading food waste recycling company, and they produce all their own compost. They have partnered with 50 local businesses to pick up food waste and use it as a tool to create compost. They divert green waste from businesses, grocers, restaurants, florists, hotels and more. “We couldn’t do it without the amazing businesses who participate in our program. We’ve diverted 42,769,981 pouds of food waste from the landfill, and we aren’t stopping now,” Dawn Dewey said.

“We produce a great local product, as we know how to make soil that’s going to perform optimally in our climate and our environment with the native soil. This gives us an edge over the ‘big box’ bag. The kelp, fish, alfalfa and fish bone meals provide different nutrients that supercharge the plant’s growth, and so we’re developing a full-soil cannabis and gardening menu and continuing to add to it,” Dawn Dewey said.

Soilutions.net offers more information on the web, and Dawn Dewy can be contacted at (505) 459-6620 or dawn@soilutions.net

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