Betsy Gruy and daughter Kate Gruy Jaceldo started Compost Queens to keep food waste out of the landfills and within the food cycle. The Compost Queens make their rounds every week in a Chevrolet truck equipped with a special lift mechanism, collecting 5-gallon buckets of food waste and replacing them with clean ones for individuals who pay about $20 per month for the service.
They also work with commercial properties and restaurants, though those sites get 35-gallon bins. It’s a business that restaurants and apartment complex residents like because they don’t qualify for the city’s green compost bins, and it’s timely given the increased awareness of how food waste — and the enormous amounts of heat-trapping methane it produces — contributes to climate change.
On a regular Tuesday-though-Friday schedule, the mother and daughter split up the routes and do pickups for roughly 60 clients throughout Bexar County. Their collections then are transported to area farmers, free of charge, as part of a composting process that creates nutrient-rich soil ideal for crops. All the farmers use organic growing practices. The duo seem to have the only composting business like this in the area, though they’re hardly getting rich from it. “We’re not in this to make a ton of money,” said Jaceldo, who estimates they bring in $1,200 a month. “We are in this to educate, raise awareness and provide a service to an issue that needs it.”
Jaceldo, 39, is a self-professed foodie who left her North East ISD job to help start the company. Gruy, 64, was the spark plug, coming up with the idea and pushing Jaceldo to join her. Composting long has been viewed as something only for hardcore enviro-hippies and vegan farmers. The duo want to change that. “I’ve loved to garden all my life and never had a problem with getting dirty,” Gruy said. “I … followed this old PBS series about how different cities handle food waste. I discovered that this was something we could do (as a business) that filled a void in the community.”